Alabama House Republicans Launch Completely Unnecessary Petition Against Fictional ‘War on Prayer’

Last month, we learned that Cullman County Schools (Alabama) Superintendent Billy Coleman was planning his third annual “Prayer Caravan” in which he visited the schools in his district and prayed for them.

Superintendent Billy Coleman

There’s only one important question for us here: Was the Prayer Caravan illegal? If a bunch of private citizens wanted to pray, they have every right to do that. However, the moment Coleman used school resources and his official title to promote the event, he crossed the line.

An announcement of the Caravan was posted on the school’s website:

It will be a time to lift out schools up to God and ask His blessings for the upcoming school year. We hope to see you on August 10th.

In Christ, Billy Coleman

It was posted on the district’s Facebook page, too.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation objected specifically to those postings, sending Coleman a letter telling him to stop the proselytizing as a district official (though he was welcome to do it on his own). After that, the district removed all references to the Caravan from their website and social media outlets.

Just to be clear: FFRF’s only objection to this event was that it gave off the impression of being supported by the district.

But Alabama House Republicans — the bright bunch at they are — don’t care about the facts. They’ve launched a petition they intend to send to FFRF headquarters in Wisconsin in which they voice their opposition to the group’s non-existent “War on Prayer.”

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard writes in the petition:

Organizers of the event were immediately met with threats of legal action from the radically liberal, out-of-state “Freedom from Religion Foundation”, who are attempting to draw attention to their agenda by demanding the end of public prayer in Alabama.

This has not been the only attack of its kind Alabama has seen in recent months. That’s why, in the face of oncoming waves of attacks on our religious liberty, we dare defend against the leftist War on Prayer coming to our state.

If you stand with us, I’m asking you to join our efforts by signing the petition stating that Alabamians believe in the freedom to express our values publicly in prayer, and we will dare to defend that right.

You know, the first rule of writing a petition, I imagine, is that the people you’re fighting against shouldn’t be so eager to sign it. Because I’m pretty sure FFRF staffers won’t even flinch when reading it. The Alabama GOP just doesn’t get it: FFRF supports everyone’s freedom to express their religious beliefs — even in public.

All they oppose, in this regard, are government officials promoting those religious beliefs. That’s what Coleman was doing in his capacity as Superintendent. That’s what FFRF was against. That’s all that FFRF was against.

As I write this, the petition has nearly 1,500 signers.

After FFRF gets ahold of it, they might even have a few more.

(Thanks to Brian for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • baal

    “we dare defend against the leftist War on Prayer coming to our state.”

    Nothing like imaginary persecution. Wouldn’t they use real evidence of persecution if they had it?

  • Bitter Lizard

    White, heterosexual, male Christians: if you belong to the least persecuted group in American history in every single category, you can evidently convince yourself that almost anything is persecution.

  • allein

    What’s with the scare quotes on “Freedom from Religion Foundation” in Hubbard’s petition?

  • Charles Raymond Miller

    They aren’t *that* stupid but they know how to stir up their supporters. If you come to AL Hemant, you can ride along with me to Montgomery and talk to these fine gentlemen and ladies.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Unfortunately, they wouldn’t even recognize real persecution if they saw it.

  • Steven Vickers

    It never fails to amaze me how stupid the people from my state can be. Unfortunately, the idea that there’s a War on Prayer is not unique. I hear about it all the time. All I can do is smile, because the ones complaining loudest are those who have little right to complain (Upper-middle class, white, heterosexual, Christian males).

  • Miss_Beara

    These people must think the actual persecution of Christians in Egypt is the same thing as the made up persecution of Christians in the US. War on Prayer, War on Christmas, having to cover contraception, gays marrying vs. burning of churches and killings. One of these things is not like the other.

  • Brian Westley

    Ha! I like your idea of having FFRF staff signing it, too bad the petition doesn’t have an ‘occupation’ field.

  • The Other Weirdo

    They are exactly the same, if one is a self-obsessed loony living with the unrequited desire for martyrdom.

  • VCP

    I signed it.

    First Name: Alabama House Republicans
    Last Name: Lying for Jesus

  • Bitter Lizard

    One of the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory is that everything will be perceived as evidence supporting it to the conspiracy theorist, even things that are contradictory. Atheists don’t want to celebrate Christmas? War on Christmas! Atheists do want to celebrate Christmas? War on Christmas!

  • Mitch

    Good for them, turning this into a political confict. Using the term “leftist” to lump FFRF into a single party, like everyone at the organization holds exactly the same viewpoints, comes across as very presumptuous and more than a little ignorant.

  • Michaela Samuels

    “Attempting to draw attention to their agenda by demanding an end of public prayer in Alabama.”

    How dare they attempt to spread awareness of the cause of their activism! Who does that?!

    What is better is that the statement isn’t even correct. Completely useless.

  • Carpinions

    I think one thing we have to stop giving these people is the benefit of the doubt. I frankly have seen zero signs from anyone in the GOP that they intend to “get” anything. The concept that the FFRF is defending is not so complex that the average person can’t understand it. The much more clear picture I see most often from the GOP is that they don’t care. As long as there is a group of people they can bend with cheap 1950s HUAC rhetoric and buzzwords, and as long as GOP officials can remain elected simply by voicing those words loudly, it will never matter. It’s a well their members can keep dipping into over and over and over and over. They don’t feel any compunction about intentionally remaining ignorant on an issue because they apparently view the process of informing one’s self as a form of compromise (because their view might change, and endanger them of turning away from Jesus for listening to Satan’s lies), and that’s the last thing they’ll ever allow.

    Conservative rhetoric, for decades now, has increasingly hit the drums for uniformity of purpose, singularity of cause, and purity of membership, with the Christian cherry on top. Never has that been more put into practice than the present. That’s what the national party puts out there, and that’s what I see. For our part, we can state our intentions and goals loudly, and make them happen. Legal precedent is on our side. If they don’t like that, then they can watch a judge smack them down.

  • Paul Reed

    Would it be wrong for your president to call a press conference to advertise his favourite fast-food restaurant? Yes?
    But why are you against people’s freedom to eat whatever they want? Why the War on Burgers? Sign my petition.

  • busterggi

    Sure they would, its what they want to do to everyone who isn’t one of them.

  • Carpinions

    They willingly fling themselves into the belief in obsolete old political frames that dictate that anyone that opposes them is on the left, and anyone with them is on the right. It’s their reliance on the false dichotomy that steers them down the wrong path so many times. A complementary example is when they insist atheism is just another religion, or that Islam is a “leftist” religion. There is no neutral or 3rd position, there are only good forces and bad forces; good things and bad things.

  • The Other Weirdo

    So, umm, “Only the Sith speak in absolutes.” Which are they, then?

  • tubi11

    It’s not persecution if it’s for your own good.

  • xtotec

    There’s a special Alabamanian resonance here. The state motto is Audemus jura nostra defendere — We dare to defend our rights. I have a picture of a nice little graven stone image outside a tourist welcome station from the last time I dared enter Alabama.

  • Matt Bowyer

    Highly debatable.

  • Buckley

    “Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.”

  • the moother

    On a positive not, seeing as these motherfuckers are generally doing nothing at all, at least this fictional persecution has given them something to do.

  • Holytape

    Unfortunately, they wouldn’t even recognize real persecution reality, if they saw it.

  • Rev. Ouabache

    I can’t even imagine what they think this petition will actually accomplish. Do they think that if they get enough signatures that FFRF will just give in and let the state of Alabama to ignore the First Amendment whenever they want to?

  • The Other Weirdo

    From a certain point of view, tubi11 is not wrong.

  • Godlesspanther

    They don’t even know what real evidence is. They live in an entirely make-believe world in which they can make up bullshit and call it “evidence.”

  • Robin

    It will be fun to watch however, I think they just want to work people up into a frenzy of “you can’t do that to us christians”. Probably nothing will come out of it but it will be fun to watch them flounder when the roar settles down.

  • Frank Key

    Well, if they insist on praying for God’s blessings, at the end of the school year, I want to see a list of independently verified blessings that happened that could have occurred only via prayer. If they are going to go through the time and expense of putting on this caravan, prove that prayer works or it’s a complete waste of resources.

  • Sweetredtele

    So did I. Matthewsix Fiveandsix

  • Rain

    But Alabama House Republicans — the bright bunch at they are — don’t care about the facts.

    They probably were reading the “scare mail” that fundy hucksters send out to the flocks. It’s not really meant to be facts. (It’s meant to scare people into sending in lots of cash.)

  • Alan Bloor

    And me. WellThis IsStupid.

  • UWIR

    What it will accomplish is reinforce Christians’ image as being persecuted. The audience isn’t FFRF, it’s the petition signers themselves.

  • Bdole

    So true. Typical conversation:
    “Obama supports the Islamists because he’s a Muslim”
    Me: Then why was it left to him to kill Osama Bin Laden and not our Christian president?
    “The Muslims want him to look good so they cooperated with Obama to let him kill Osama.”

  • SeekerLancer

    Good job Mr. Coleman. You show those windmills who’s boss.

  • Mick

    “The Alabama GOP just doesn’t get it: FFRF supports everyone’s freedom to express their religious beliefs — even in public.”

    Oh they get it all right. They know exactly what is going on.

    They know their supporters just love the idea of being brave little soldiers in the army of the Lord so they invent these battles to keep their spirits up. They know they can win votes by telling right-wingers what they want to hear (truth is of no consequence in these situations).

  • Intelligent Donkey

    He signed it “In Christ, Billy Coleman”.

    That just reminds me of this:

  • ShoeUnited

    StuckInASignatureFactory PleaseSendHelp

  • Randay

    Or the War on Mithrasmas and also War on Sol Invictusmas.

  • Jason Valentine

    Only a thousand four hundred signatures so far. Probably all 1K marchers and their alts.

  • Lauryn

    You may be right. FFRF staffers probably won’t flinch at it!

  • Ann Onymous

    Today, we continued the Holocaust unit in school. We learned about laws stripping Jews of citizenship, restricting their marriage rights, allowing property to be confiscated from Jews (including houses), and eventually defining Jews as nonhuman.
    Also, a letter came to our house labeled “How YOUR tax dollars are being used to silence and punish Christians on campus…”, and I read this article.
    Guess which one regards actual persecution.