Failing at educating their kids, Floridians turn to prayer.

The state of Florida has a reputation among some people as being full of brain-dead morons. News stories like this Orlando Sentinel article do nothing to change that impression:

When Evans High School students bend their heads to take the 2008 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, dozens of community members will bow their heads, too—in prayer.

A group of about 40 churchgoers hopes that God’s power will do what studying has not for the struggling Pine Hills school: raise its state-issued letter grade above the F it received the past two years.

“Once you’ve done all you can do, you put it in the Lord’s hands,” said the Rev. Michael Kimbrough, pastor of Rising Sun Baptist Church in Pine Hills, who is organizing the prayer chain.

Florida has been in the news recently as the state Board of Education debated over new science standards that would require teaching the Theory of Evolution for the first time (it wasn’t a requirement previously). Around a half-dozen local school boards had folks pushing to have Evolution banned and/or ID/Creationism inserted into the science curriculum. Is it any wonder then that when faced with schools not making the grade the solution some folks come up with isn’t to improve the quality of the education, but to throw up their hands and declare they’ve done everything they can do and it’ll take a miracle from God to keep their kids from being total idiots?

Every now and then someone asks me, “What’s the harm in letting people believe what they want to believe?” I’d say the above is at least one very good example of the harm.

Judge them by their actions: CO state Rep. kicks news photograher.

Colorado Republican Douglas Bruce is a friggin’ dick. First he gets all pissy about the swearing in ceremony he’s supposed to have to fill a vacant seat in the Colorado House of Representatives and then, during the actual ceremony, he hauls off and kicks a news photographer taking pics of the event:

Carrying a family Bible, Bruce went to the House floor Monday morning as a guest of Rep. Kent Lambert, a fellow Colorado Springs Republican.

When Rocky Mountain News photographer Javier Manzano took his photo during the traditional morning prayer, Bruce, who was standing, brought the sole of his shoe down hard on the photographer’s bent knee. A CBS4 News videographer saw Bruce make a kicking motion, but didn’t see the actual contact.

“Don’t do that again,” Bruce told Manzano.

Naturally being such an upstanding Christian sort who follows Jesus’ teaching to “turn the other cheek” Rep. Bruce later apologized for being a dick to the news photographer personally, right?

Ha ha! Don’t be so clueless.

Later, Bruce refused to apologize.

“I think that’s the most offensive thing I’ve seen a photographer do in 21 years,” he said. “If people are going to cause a disruption during a public prayer, they should be called for it. He owes an apology to the House and the public.”

“I’m glad that he maybe, finally, I hoped learned a lesson,” Bruce continued. “That he should not disrupt a public prayer of the House.”

I’m sure Jesus would consider such public displays of piety just as important and would have soundly thrashed that newsman for having the audacity of taking pictures during such an auspicious event. ‘Cause Jesus was all about laying the smack down ya know!

Don’t be a dick, Bruce!

Pope’s solution for the pedophile priest problem? Lots and lots of prayer!

There’s nothing like taking decisive action to correct a major problem. Too bad the Pope doesn’t seem to understand that. His idea of decisive action in dealing with the problem of pedophile priests is to wait five years after the church’s foundation has been rocked by the scandal and then command the churches to pray continuously for God to solve the problem:

Pope Benedict XVI has instructed Roman Catholics to pray “in perpetuity” to cleanse the Church of paedophile clergy. All dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries will be expected to organise continuous daily prayers to express penitence and to purify the clergy.

Vatican officials said that every parish or institution should designate a person or group each day to conduct continuous prayers for the Church to rid itself of the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Alternatively, churches in the same diocese could share the duty. Prayer would take place in one parish for 24 hours, then move to another.

The instruction was sent to bishops by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of Brazil, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. He told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that he was acting in the Pope’s name. The Pope wanted Catholics to pray for the “mercy of God for the victims of the grave situations caused by the moral and sexual conduct of a very small part of the clergy”, he said.

Cause prayer works so well for sick people and sports teams. Thanks, Pope, for nothing. Which is about all your plan will add up to.

Link via Pharyngula.

Governor Asks for Prayer for Rain

What do you do in times of drought? According to the Governor of Georgia, you pray.

He joined lawmakers and ministers on the steps of the state Capitol to pray for rain.

While public prayer vigils might raise eyebrows in other parts of the nation, they are mostly shrugged off in the Bible Belt, where turning to the heavens for help is common and sometimes even politically expedient.

“Christianity has more of a place in the culture here than in some other region,” said Ray Van Neste, a professor of Christian studies at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. “And it’s only natural, in a way, for the public to pray for rain.”

But it doesn’t end there…

Perdue isn’t the first governor to hold a call for public prayer during the epic drought gripping the Southeast. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley issued a proclamation declaring a week in July as “Days of Prayer for Rain” to “humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty.”

This begs the question of what the fuck the is the Governor doing? Why is he leading prayer? Or better yet, asking for people to pray?

“We need to try a different approach,” said Rocky Twyman, who organized the concert. “We need to call on God, because what we’re doing isn’t working. We think that instead of all this fussing and fighting, Gov. Perdue and all these others would come together and pray.”

“What we are doing isn’t working.” Is there really all that much can be done besides conservation? My Meteorology isn’t all that great but I thought the processes required for rain don’t shift much from human interaction. I know that global warming shifts weather patterns, and more places will have drought and more places will have flooding from Global Warming and these two scenarios will be less spread out. So in that sense humans have an impact. But in the immediate short term, there really isn’t much human interaction is going to do.

And why the fuck is the Governor leading this prayer. He has every right to pray himself, but what is he doing on the capitol lawns asking for and leading prayer. Is it too much to ask for high level government official that understands the constitution?

In this case, it just seems that prayer is a way to shift responsibility from people to God. I know no one is claiming that, but I have always seen religion as a way to shift responsibility for ones actions. Besides that, I don’t really care if people pray. I have never found it useful, no matter how much I used to believe, or how bad my life was. I never got anything out of prayer, no one answered my calls, and no one fixed my life but myself. So I guess my path in life has lead me to to different answers.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley tells his constituents to pray to God for rain.

Faced with an ongoing drought Governor Bob Riley decided his best course of action would be to encourage his fellow Alabamians to engage in a pointless ritual:

With the state’s weather forecasters not delivering much-needed rain, Gov. Bob Riley on Thursday turned to a higher power. The governor issued a proclamation calling for a week of prayer for rain, beginning Saturday.

Riley encouraged Alabamians to pray “individually and in their houses of worship.”

“Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for his blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty,” Riley said. “This drought is without question a time of great difficulty.”

Ah yes, the old “pray to God in hopes he’ll stop being such a bastard and gives us a little relief” tactic that has worked so well in the past. Oh wait, it hasn’t worked at all.

Just the same the folks in Alabama may want to think twice before beseeching God to quench their thirst. Back on July 24 of 2006 the town of Lubbock Texas was in a serious drought and they decided to pray for rain as well:

“Nobody is going to tell God what to do and what not to do, but we are in a serious drought in West Texas and since he is the man who controls the rain clouds, we’re asking him for his mercy and his help,” Mayor David Miller told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

The City Council and the Lubbock County commissioners are expected to adopt resolutions this week asking local residents to both pray and fast for rain this Sunday.

God didn’t get around to answering that prayer until just recently and the resulting floods have already killed 11 people:

It’s the wettest year on record in Austin, with more than 30 inches of rain since January, and Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco and Wichita Falls have received near-record amounts. The rainfall has more than compensated for a drought that gripped much of Texas in 2005-06, the National Weather Service said.

So perhaps the good people of Alabama might want to think twice before getting down on their knees. This God fellow has a well developed sense of irony it seems.