Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed an official government proclamation declaring Sunday, April 7, as a “Statewide Day of Prayer” for Nebraskans hurt by recent flooding throughout the state.
Of course, it’s a compassionate, even governorly, thing to do. But there are two problems with the decree: (1) it officially encourages a religious act that ignores those Nebraskans who neither believe in God, nor pray, or both, and (2) we can be almost certain it will have zero effect on whether and when it will rain again or how fast the flood waters will recede and how fully, or if, those affected will recover.
In the end, it’s just a public relations and rally-round-the-faith ploy but one with a good heart.
Yet, it still brings religion directly into government, which Thomas Jefferson and the others clearly intended not to happen in the Enlightenment-bathed secular republic they envisioned for America in its beginning.
And Ricketts is not the first. Governors Rick Perry (Texas) and Sonny Perdue (Georgia) have issued similar proclamations in the past. Governors in my own very-Christian state of South Dakota have likely done the same, but I haven’t checked. I do know that our current Gov. Kristi Noem is a fervent evangelical Christian and has recited prayers at the Capitol on National Prayer Day.
So, it’s clear that true-believing Americans also believe that government-sponsored religious prayer should be appropriate virtually anywhere, being, like the revised national motto — “In God We Trust” — virtually secular after being profligately used these lo so many years.
Although an image of the official proclamation is embedded in this post above, here’s the text below, which is more readable:
Whereas, Nebraska is suffering an unprecedented disaster caused by blizzard conditions, widespread flooding, and high winds, which has profoundly affected the living conditions and the livelihoods of our fellow citizens; and
Whereas, throughout our history Nebraskans have united in prayer to God to humbly ask for strength and steadfastness during times of difficulty; and
Whereas, prayer provides peace and guidance in times of crisis and conflict, and reminds us of the comforting assurance of God’s love for us all; and
Whereas, it seems right and fitting that the citizens of Nebraska are urged to pray for the well-being of our fellow citizens and our state, to pray for all those in other states who are hurt by this disaster, to pray for those who are working to respond to this crisis, and to pray for all recovery efforts.Now, therefore, I, Pete Ricketts, Governor of the state of Nebraska, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM the 7th day of April, 2019 as
STATEWIDE DAY OF PRAYER
In Nebraska, and I do hereby encourage individuals to pray on their own or with others, according to their own faith, in an expression of faith and hope.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the citizens of the great state of Nebraska are also encouraged to give personal thanks to God for the blessings they have received and to donate their times, skills and resources to serve their neighbors within and alongside the many organizations providing disaster relief.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I hereunder set my hand and cause the
Great Geal of the state of Nebraska to be affixed this Twenty-ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen.
When I was working in Saudi Arabia during the 2000s, the king occasionally proclaimed a day or week of prayer for rain, and we American expatriates found it a quaint practice of an ancient Islamic culture.
At the time, I had no idea we still did it here in America, too.
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