Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Prayer Non-Controversy

Much was made yesterday of David Perdue, a Republican Senator from Georgia, joking about praying for President Obama's death:

“We should pray for him like Psalms 109:8 says: Let his days be few, and let another have his office.”
He said those words at some get together of religious/political zealots, many of whom laughed and applauded his comments. Several media outlets ran with the story and there were the predictable responses from Democrats and others complaining that Perdue was way out of bounds.

Here's what absolutely no one said, but I will: this doesn't matter one bit because prayer doesn't work anyway. Even if every single person in that convention hall prayed for Obama to die, it would not have any impact on Obama's health at all.

Not one iota.

Many of them have been praying for exactly that since he became Commander In Chief -- see this Christian Science Monitor story from November, 2009 -- and nothing has happened. They prayed their brains out outside the Supreme Court that the justices wouldn't make gay marriage legal. No effect. Plenty of Ted Cruz supporters prayed he'd be the GOP presidential nominee. He lost to a con man. I could pick dozens of other issues their prayers haven't impacted at all.

That's because prayer has never been proven to work.

I'm not just talking about praying for something negative, like the death of your political opponent. I'm talking about praying for something positive, too.

Tens of millions of people have prayed that their lottery numbers would come up for a big Powerball jackpot, but 99.999% of them never received a big cardboard check. They've prayed that their favorite sports team would win the big game but walked away dejected. They've prayed for their loved ones on their deathbeds, then cried over the corpses.

Of course, some of those teams win (exactly half of those participating heads-up in any game will come out on top). So do some of those lottery players. Some of the patients don't die. In each case, the winners will believe that their prayers have been answered, but you should chalk up the result to the strength of one team over another, or the randomness of falling ping pong balls, or doctors using science and medicine to help repair the human body -- not to the specific cause and effect of praying.

So, go ahead and denounce Senator David Perdue as an idiot who believes in magical thinking, but don't worry that he and his fellow believers can get their invisible friend to reach down from the sky and take the life of President Obama -- or anyone else.

On the other hand, don't bother praying that Perdue will change his mind about any of this, either. You'd just be wasting your time -- like him.