Invited to Deliver Invocation for Alabama Commission, Christian Rails Against Abortion, Gay Marriage, and More

Alabama Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh (yep) recently introduced her friend and Tea Party member John Jordan at a meeting so he could deliver an invocation prayer:

Twinkle Cavanaugh

You know how some invocations cross the line?

Well, Jordan made sure no one could even see the line after he was done.

First, he asked everyone in the audience to raise their hands if they believed in prayer.

Then he asked them if God answers prayers.

Then he asked them if they needed prayer.

Because that’s how they roll before discussing regulatory issues regarding power.

Jordan went on:

“… God, we’ve taken you out of our schools. We’ve taken you out of our prayers. We’ve murdered your children. We’ve said it’s okay to have same-sex marriage, God. We have sinned and we ask once again that you forgive us for our sins.”

… the hell?! How is that *ever* okay at a government meeting?

Cavanaugh, not surprisingly, defends Jordan, showing all of us why she’s completely unfit for public office:

“My Christian faith guides me in everything that I do, and I’m proud that the Alabama Public Service Commission opens each meeting seeking His divine guidance and thanking God for the blessings He has given us,” she writes. “I make no apologies as a Christian elected into public service by the people of Alabama. Without a doubt, our nation needs more prayer, not less.

Looks like Twinkle is far from enlightened.

Reporter John Archibald was at the meeting and, while he was shocked by the prayer, he figures this is all just a big distraction to take attention away from how the commission is screwing the residents of the state:

And people are looking around [during the prayer], wondering if we might have taken this thing too far, and all I can think as I pray for an “amen” is that the Greatest Show on Earth is not under the big top at all. It is here. In Montgomery. In an ugly David Bronner building.

Cavanaugh knows, and Alabama Power knows, that most Alabamians will raise their hand for prayer every time. Most, when asked, will choose jobs over trees. And most, if they don’t know what to think, will find their answers to the right.

It is strategy, nothing more. A good, time-honored strategy.

Which is the best reason to remember what these hearings are about.

They are about Alabama Power’s rate structure. Period. It is a structure — though debated to near incomprehension at these hearings — that is high for residential customers and low for industry. It allows the company to write off an $8 million salary for CEO Charles McCrary as Operations and Maintenance, at a government-regulated monopoly.

Simon Brown at Americans United for Separation of Church and State adds:

… Americans United doesn’t take a stand on how power companies are regulated. What we can tell you, though, is that Cavanaugh is showing an obvious favoritism toward Christianity, and that is neither appropriate for her position nor is it constitutional.

Americans United will be arguing a case this fall before the U.S. Supreme Court that may decide the limits of prayer before government meetings, but regardless of how that turns out, elected officials like Cavanaugh need to remember that they weren’t put into office to be pastors and that they serve a diverse constituency — even in a place like Alabama.

No one’s telling Cavanaugh she can’t be Christian. All we’re saying is that she should be doing the job she was elected to do instead of using her position as a personal pulpit.

No word yet on whether any lawsuits will be filed against Cavanaugh or the state.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Mick

    How long do you think it will take before American politicians stop pushing religion? Decades? Generations? Centuries?

    • Drew M.

      Two days or two millennia, it’ll be too long.

      • Ryan Hite

        It’ll be the same generation that the millenials are growing up in and voting. No doubt the future will be brighter. We just need a few more decades of this max.

        • baal

          From your lips to god’s ears.

    • Frank

      A person who divorces their faith from their life is not someone that can be trusted.

      • Matt D

        That’s merely your opinion, but you are entitled to it.

        • becauseyoushouldknow

          Seriously? It’s not an opinion, it is a genuine and justified question. This country is supposed to separate religion and government. Therefore, religion should have no part in political discussions. Don’t cover your inability to understand that whole concept with “that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it”, this is what people call a ‘cop out’. Do you have an answer to her question?

      • Monika Jankun-Kelly

        Please explain how Alabama’s power rate structure relates to gay marriage or Christian faith in any way whatsoever. Please explain how a public show of hands to say “I’m part of the ruling Christian majority!” is necessary to make good decisions about power rates. Please explain how Cavanaugh’s public servant position in any way authorizes her to push non-germane private religious views while on the job?

  • LesterBallard

    I’m hypertensive; I’m guessing I shouldn’t listen to this, or pay attention to the shitstain in Arizona.

    • CodeMonkeys

      Probably ideal. No need to go and have a stroke or heart attack over dumb humans being dumb humans.

  • alexjonesisanidiot

    So…question.
    Why did they invite someone named TWINKLE to speak at convocation? I’m
    gonna go out on a limb here and say that no one in the history of
    mankind that’s named TWINKLE has ever or will ever say anything that’s
    worth hearing.

    • allein

      It’s worse than that; Twinkle was elected to her position. She’s the one who invited the speaker.

      • alexjonesisanidiot

        That ought to teach me to refrain from commenting until I read the ENTIRE article. But yes. I have to wonder at the sort of person that would see someone named TWINKLE on the ballot and say, “Yessir. I want someone named TWINKLE to represent me in government!”

        • tennismom

          She’s been involved in politics here in AL for a long time, and is very definitely the norm unfortunately. You should take a field trip with a 4th grade class sometime to the State Capitol and have to listen to the religious basis of the AL state flag and then go in to hear then State Treasure (now Lt. Gov.) Kaye Ivy go on about how the children should start learning how to manage money and she told them to take 10% off the top for their church, then a percentage into a savings account, and a percentage they could spend. Then she went back and emphasized the tithe to their church. I was not a happy camper that day!

    • Edmond

      Ad hominem… let’s be better.

      • jferris

        Yes, Edmond, you are correct. It is difficult to point out these issues, or even remotely hope for understand from those committing these outrageous acts, when we use things like an Ad hominem attack. However, as bad as that is, it is much better than punching them in the face yelling “You have got to be effing kidding me!”

  • A3Kr0n

    She probably was elected to be a sort of pastor, just look how Jesus-y everyone was acting. And admit it, with a name like Twinkle, how could she lose?

  • Helen

    I am from AL. This is par for the course around here. So frustrating.

  • Whitney

    Okay. I can see that not everyone here knows, so let me help, however briefly.

    If it was socially acceptable 50-75 years ago, it’s still considered to be perfectly fine anywhere in Alabama. This goes double or more if Christianity is involved.

    I should know, I used to live there.

    Note: I do NOT, by any means, espouse this. Religious invocations of this nature should never be allowed or condoned at government meetings.

  • Rain

    First, he asked everyone in the audience to raise their hands if they believed in prayer.

    Yeah nothing sure beats “prayer shaming”. Except for prayer shaming a whole board of public service commissioners and everybody else in the room. If you don’t bow your head then they know you are either a witch or you weigh the same as a duck.

  • JET

    Well, fiddle-dee-dee. Thinkin’s hard! I’ll just pray for divine guidance. The lawd will tell me what to do!

  • Robster

    I’m not familiar with the system employed in the Alabama Public Service Commission, but the fact that it appears to be being managed by people that believe in talking snakes, virgin births, life after death, angels and the rest of the absurd, mind numbing nonsense so beloved by the religious is a worry. Do they pray when the power goes off, or do they send repair crews?

  • Brian

    “Send a spiritual rain upon us,” I always wondered what it would be called when God masturbates.

    • Telegram Sam

      In the Old Testament, it was called “manna”.

      • baal

        Well, examples of god actually doing something nice like feeding people are few and far between.

  • Alexis

    First, he asked everyone in the audience to raise their hands if they believed in prayer and everyone yelled “HELL NO” and that was the end of it as sputtering and fuming, he left the room.

  • doug105
  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Did her parents hate her when they named her?


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