"At best, a throwback to primitivism -- at worst, unconstitutional political posturing and manipulation..."
An Atheist public policy group denounced Sunday's "Day of Prayer" by Southern governors as a political stunt which is exploiting an environmental tragedy in order to win votes and promote religion and as, incidentally, a clear violation of Christian biblical principles.
"At best, this is a bronze age response to disaster," declared Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists. "This is just another example of how some political leaders use religion to win votes, garner public sympathy, and lead people to believe that superstition trumps the need for good planning and responsible public policy. These governors are plainly hypocrites as defined, allegedly in words from Jesus, in Matthew 6:5-6."
The Governors of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, along with the lieutenant Governor of Florida, all issued proclamations declaring Sunday, June 27, 2010, a Day of Prayer and urged citizens to engage in religious ritual in hopes of finding a solution to the growing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
"This is about as deep as you can get when it comes to promoting irrationality and faith-based superstition," added Dr. Buckner. "We have another example of public officials telling citizens when and how to pray, whether to pray, and what to pray for."
Dave Silverman, Vice President and Communications Director for American Atheists, said that prayer is never a suitable substitute for sound public policy, environmental safeguards, and sensible planning for catastrophic emergencies.
"I doubt that Jesus or some angel is suddenly going to descend from the sky with millions of feet of boom, or more barges to suck up the leaking oil," said Mr. Silverman. "If prayer really worked, why is it that so far, anyway, God seems to be ignoring the suffering all along the gulf?"
Dr. Buckner added, "Perhaps the politicians need to get up off their knees and spend more time mobilizing the resources to deal with this catastrophe. That should not include offering false hope or ridiculous suggestions for the people being affected by this event.”