Harrisburg, PA Mayor turns to prayer to solve city’s financial problems.

Up next in our ongoing series of incompetent politicians turning to public displays of religiosity in place of actually doing something useful is Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s mayor Linda Thompson. It seems the city is facing a looming deficit of $3.5 million dollars which is expected to grow to $10.4 million by 2015. A good portion of the problem stems from an incinerator project started in 2003 that was supposed to be a revenue generator, but has instead has been a money hole.

So, of course, there’s only one possible solution:

“Things that are above and beyond my control, I need God,” Thompson told WHTM TV, the region’s ABC news affiliate. “I depend on Him for guidance. Spiritual guidance. That’s why it’s really no struggle for me to join this fast and prayer.”

The mayor is going to not eat for three days and pray like she’s never prayed before. Yeah, that’ll probably work. God responds so well to people who starve themselves and beg him repeatedly to do something. Why I’m sure they’ll wake up on the fourth day to find the city’s coffers suddenly overflowing with money from nowhere.

Personally, I think if the mayor can’t come up with any solutions beyond fasting and prayer then perhaps she should reconsider her career and let someone who isn’t a drooling idiot take over who might have more practical ideas to try.

This is the problem with electing people because they share your religious views and say things you want to hear. Too often they don’t have the skills it takes to actually run things properly and when faced with a crisis they turn to useless displays of piety because they either can’t or won’t consider ideas that would help due to their ideological blinders. This is especially true of anyone who claims to be a TEA Party member who ends up being particularly flustered when their ideological approach doesn’t work thanks to reality getting in the way.

But I suppose the folks in Harrisburg are simply getting the government they wanted, and deserved, for electing an idiot to office.

Hat tip to @HumanityPlague for sending this in.

5 thoughts on “Harrisburg, PA Mayor turns to prayer to solve city’s financial problems.

  1. This is one of few things I disagree with you on, Les. I’m agnostic whereas I believe there is a higher force that sees through me as opposed to looking at me. The human race, and all life, being an appendage of this force and it’s reach into the balance that we call living. In your very next post, “In a moment of self-reflection before carrying on” you have all but invalidated your rant on this post for me. Prayer is a moment of self reflection. Or it should be, to those who believe that ‘god‘ is within. So for me, that post should have been titled ‘An atheist’s prayer’.

    If you break your arm or any appendage, you will certainly give it more attention than normal and care for it more tenderly than your other arm. The pain forces and holds your attention. Fasting, hallucinogenics, vision quests, are just extreme examples of self-reflection or introversion used in seeking guidance and answers. In reference to your Twain quote, it’s a way of invoking the storm of thoughts.

    Certainly there is a stockpile of bullshit when it comes to Christian spirituality when mixed with politics. (Which is probably the case in this Harrisburg example) But She doesn’t say fasting and prayer will bring solutions. She says it in the hope that it would bring ideas. Every politician is unqualified and only there to promote their own purpose. But to call someone a ‘drooling idiot’ for this is just downright nasty and elitist. Especially, when in your very next post, you question your own intellectual validity.

    Would you have been as critical if the mayor was a Pueblo Indian and said that he was going to New Mexico for the week on a peyote excursion in order seek answers for his city’s insurmountable problems? Or have you become so set in your non-beliefs that you’ve become the atheist’s version of a bible thumping christian? My point being, just because religion has romanticized the word ‘faith’ doesn’t mean you should, as an atheist, try to stop having any at all and persecuting anyone who does.

    That being said, I value your opinions as an intelligent, imperfect human being and it’s why I’m still a follower 6+ years later.

  2. Well, I don’t know about Les, but I would certainly be critical if a Native American, from whatever nation were to say s/he is going chew some magic mushrooms in the quest for inspiration. Like hard fasting your body will certainly show you something — the brain tends to do that when it is deprived of nutrition, or fed hallucinogenic substances. I think their fellow Native Americans would not appreciate it either, but then Native Americans have always been more sensible about their rituals than Christians have ever been.

    Humans need a maternal/paternal god to take care of them and help them when things get rough. This magical nurturing-wish granting is seen in pretty much all religions. Unfortunately like your real mom and dad, this mystical being isn’t so quick to jump in to protect…or inspire you. When you are grown you are on your own, something that is hard for many to accept. I question the maturity of Thompson if she really thinks this will help. Adults might whisper a prayer or two while they are getting off their duff and actually doing something about the situation, but they don’t make grandstand plays of piety to garner publicity. She is an attention whore trying to impress a fairly large portion of her constituency. It might even work — her impressing them, that is. I seriously doubt that she will come up with anything useful though.

  3. This will probably be lengthy, so buckle up.

    Chris wrote:

    This is one of few things I disagree with you on, Les. I’m agnostic whereas I believe there is a higher force that sees through me as opposed to looking at me. The human race, and all life, being an appendage of this force and it’s reach into the balance that we call living.

    Given your statement of belief in a Higher Force, I’d argue you are not an Agnostic (who believes it’s impossible to know and thus impossible to declare belief one way or the other) as much as a Pantheist. That doesn’t really have an impact on your larger point, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    In your very next post, “In a moment of self-reflection before carrying on” you have all but invalidated your rant on this post for me. Prayer is a moment of self reflection. Or it should be, to those who believe that ‘god‘ is within. So for me, that post should have been titled ‘An atheist’s prayer’.

    While prayer may be a moment of self-reflection for you and for some Christians, I think the vast majority of Christians see it literally as a means of appealing to God to perform some action that they themselves are unable to bring about on their own. That is what they are taught and that is the approach that many, including the good Mayor, take with it.

    Given that, I think that the differences between my attempt at understanding myself better and the Mayor’s attempt to appeal to God to fix things she concedes are “beyond her power to control” should be obvious. I’m not calling on some outside force to do something I feel that I cannot, which is exactly what the Mayor is doing. In comparison to the traditional definition of a prayer, what I engaged in was anything but that.

    If you break your arm or any appendage, you will certainly give it more attention than normal and care for it more tenderly than your other arm. The pain forces and holds your attention. Fasting, hallucinogenics, vision quests, are just extreme examples of self-reflection or introversion used in seeking guidance and answers. In reference to your Twain quote, it’s a way of invoking the storm of thoughts.

    I suppose that’s one way to look at it, but I find the argument unconvincing. Fasting and hallucinogenics are just two ways of bringing on similar states of mind and while some folks find them deeply spiritual experiences it’s questionable how much practical application they have towards the day to day operation of a city.

    Certainly there is a stockpile of bullshit when it comes to Christian spirituality when mixed with politics. (Which is probably the case in this Harrisburg example) But She doesn’t say fasting and prayer will bring solutions. She says it in the hope that it would bring ideas.

    She specifically said “Things that are above and beyond my control, I need God,”. This implies that she doesn’t think she has the ability to affect change herself. Yes, she does go on to use the phrase “spiritual guidance” but the implication of the previous statement suggests she’s looking for more than just ideas.

    It’s possible I’m reading more into it than what’s there, but that’s what I’m taking away from it based on what is reported in the news item.

    Every politician is unqualified and only there to promote their own purpose. But to call someone a ‘drooling idiot’ for this is just downright nasty and elitist. Especially, when in your very next post, you question your own intellectual validity.

    I also disagree with the idea that every politician is unqualified and only motivated by self-interest. There are plenty that are more than qualified and motivated by a sincere desire to serve their constituents. We generally don’t hear too much about them because they don’t tend to generate the ratings and sales that the bad politicians do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’m cynical, but not so cynical to make a statement like yours.

    Was calling her a drooling idiot nasty? Yeah, I can see where some might think so, but my reason for calling her that was because she’s essentially throwing up her hands and giving up by resorting to Public Displays of Piety (PDP™) rather than making use of her position and knowledge to find real-world solutions. None of the problems she’s complaining about are impossible to resolve. She may not like the solutions they require, but that doesn’t make them unresovable.

    Would you have been as critical if the mayor was a Pueblo Indian and said that he was going to New Mexico for the week on a peyote excursion in order seek answers for his city’s insurmountable problems?

    Yes, I would have. It’s just as useless and pointless as fasting and praying for three days. None of this city’s problems are insurmountable and anyone in a position of power in that city who says they are should look for a different line of work.

    Or have you become so set in your non-beliefs that you’ve become the atheist’s version of a bible thumping christian? My point being, just because religion has romanticized the word ‘faith’ doesn’t mean you should, as an atheist, try to stop having any at all and persecuting anyone who does.

    I have plenty of faith, but most of that faith is based on solid reasoning. I have faith, for example, that the sun will rise tomorrow because it has every day for all of my 43+ years on the planet and there’s nothing to indicate it will do otherwise come the morning. It’s entirely possible it might not for some reason, but I see no reason to suspect that event is likely.

    Or, if you prefer, I have faith in the idea that my wife loves me and is happy in our relationship. This faith is based on statements she’s made and actions she’s taken over the years combined with the fact that there’s been nothing that’s occurred to make me question the faith I have in our relationship. The possibility that my faith may be misplaced is exponentially more likely than my faith in the sun rising tomorrow morning as shown by the divorce statistics we’re all too aware of, but, so far at least, I have seen nothing to provide me with a reason to doubt that faith.

    What I don’t have faith in is supernatural entities capable of violating the laws of physics and causality acting on wishes cast in its direction. I’ve seen or experienced nothing to convince me that faith in such an entity is well founded.

    That being said, I value your opinions as an intelligent, imperfect human being and it’s why I’m still a follower 6+ years later.

    Hopefully I haven’t chased you off with this reply. I hope my tone doesn’t come across as angry or defensive as that’s not my intent. It’s my hope that this will grant you at least somewhat of a better understanding of my stance even if it doesn’t convince you it’s the correct one to take.

  4. Hah, nope I pretty much new your stance before writing. I very much appreciate the detailed reply. For someone who names their blog Stupid Evil Bastard, you’re pretty tame in temperament.

    Pantheism. Love it! quote from Wiki “Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion gave Naturalistic Pantheism increased credibility among atheists by describing it as “sexed-up atheism.” sign me up!

    I’m certainly no traditional christian, but I do call on some outside forces to do things that I feel I cannot. I just call that force ‘luck’, and luck takes faith. I personally believe that kind of faith is a main ingredient in life’s evolutionary process. Just as most great discoveries are a lucky byproduct in the quest for something else entirely.

    I didn’t want to delve into a conversation involving BOTH politics and spirituality as it would get very long and to wordy for text.

    That said, I just felt a bit insulted. Just because someone says, “I’m gonna leave it in gods hands” doesn’t necessarily make them a drooling idiot. We use luck everyday. “Well, my radiator hose is cracked and my gas tank is on E but I still think I can make it 30 miles to work.” It might be stupid, yes, but we all do the best we can with the resources we have. As much control as we think we have, we’ll never have it completely.

    It reminds me of a joke. A preacher prays to God everyday for one year and asks “God, will you please let me win the Powerball lottery?” Everyday and after every sermon, “Please god, show my followers that you listen to me! Let me win the Powerball lottery? at the end of one year GOD finally replies. “MY DEAR SON, WOULD YOU CONSIDER MEETING ME HALFWAY AND AT LEAST BUY A LOTTO TICKET?”

    Best,

    Chris

  5. Hey, I am writing a paper on why religion should be banned from government in every form. Could you please post your sources? I am looking for a significant amount of information, as my teacher seems to be fairly religious. Thanks

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