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As you probably know, I don’t believe in the efficacy of prayer. There’s neither empirical evidence nor logical argument to support the proposition that a supernatural being is listening to our requests and can be persuaded to grant them if asked politely enough. Still, when believers pray for the healing of the sick or the welfare of the needy, there’s at least a benevolent intention that I can respect.

Then there’s the Family Research Council.

This religious-right group regularly issues prayer requests to its followers, but they’re not on behalf of the poor or the sick. They’re straight-up requests for God to support the FRC’s political agenda, including requests for God to block or repeal legislation that the FRC disagrees with. Here are some of the more amusing ones.

The FRC really doesn’t like Obamacare – I mean, they really, really don’t like it. And they’re confident that God feels the same way. But just in case God isn’t aware of all the reasons why Obamacare should be repealed (socialism! rationing! Benghazi!), the FRC is helping out with a list of Fox News talking points that the almighty creator of heaven and earth may not have heard already:

May Americans dazzled by the false promise of lower cost or free healthcare realize that they have bought into a lie that will result in increased, taxpayer-funded abortion, but also substandard healthcare, greater cost, reduced innovation, diminished care for the elderly, fewer doctors to serve more people, longer waits for care and very soon, rationing, etc. (1 Sam 8:7-20; Mt 7:15-20; 16:26; 23:27; Jn 7:24; 2 Th 2:10b-11). (source)

The FRC is particularly exercised about the minimum coverage requirements which include contraception, and they’re asking God to make the Supreme Court see things their way in the ongoing Hobby Lobby suit:

Move Oh Lord, upon each member of the Supreme Court. May they rule this mandate an unconstitutional infringement of religious liberty and conscience against these Christian businesses and their owners (Is 5:20; 10:1; Lk 18:1-8; 1 Tim 1:5; 3:9; 2 Tim 1:3; Tit 1:5; Heb 10:22). (source)

Here’s a little free advice, guys: asking God to influence “each member” of the Supreme Court is unnecessary. You’ve already got four justices in your pocket. Don’t spread your prayer resources too thin! Just ask God to concentrate all his magic mind-control powers on Anthony Kennedy.

The FRC also doesn’t hold with all the reefer cigarettes that the young people are smoking these days. Therefore, they’re praying that God will cause Americans to reject the legalization of marijuana:

Two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized marijuana. Many more have either legalized the drug for medical use, decriminalized recreational use, or both… May the American people come to their senses to reject this trend and reverse it! (Pr 31:4; Is 5:11, 22-24; 29:8-10; Eph 5:18; 2 Tim 1:7)

If you’re curious, one of the Bible verses they’re citing there is Proverbs 31:4, which says: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.” Since we don’t have kings or princes in America, it’s pretty hard to see how this bears on the debate over recreational cannabis in Colorado and Washington. But what makes this even more hilarious is that the FRC apparently didn’t read all the way down the page, because if this chapter is about pot, how do we interpret this passage just two verses later?

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” —Proverbs 31:6-7

You’ll also note that one other biblical verse the FRC doesn’t cite is Genesis 1:29.

Next, the FRC asks God to guarantee adequate staffing levels at the State Department. (By doing what, causing a disembodied hand to appear and add a line into the budget containing an appropriation?)

May God correct an administration that has failed to defend religious liberty. May the State Department agency tasked to be the religious liberty watchdog be staffed, activated, and empowered to do its job. (source)

The FRC asks God to make a federal court rule in favor of a religious monument on public land, but just in case that doesn’t work out, they hedge their bets by also asking God to decree an appellate court review:

May the Dec. 12th U.S. District Court order to remove the Cross at the Veterans Memorial in San Diego, under legal assault for 24 years, be reversed on appeal. If not, may the case be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. (source)

The FRC asks God to intervene in international diplomacy by preventing the U.N. Security Council from weakening sanctions on Iran in exchange for oversight of their nuclear program:

May God, His people, and or elected representatives act to rebuild our faith and commitment to Israel and to stop this irrational appeasement of Iran. (source)

I hope the FRC doesn’t mind me saying so, but it seems like they’re thinking small here. Praying to God to make the Security Council toughen its sanctions? You believe you’ve got an omnipotent being on your side and that’s the harshest penalty you can conceive of? Why don’t they just ask God to turn Iran’s rivers into blood until it agrees to shut down its reactors?

The FRC asks God to intervene in a Senate battle over parliamentary tactics:

Pray that conservatives in the House and Senate will not succumb to a godless compromise and that the Senate will not try the “nuclear option” (change senate rules to require just 51 not 60 votes to end a filibuster and force a vote). (source)

I also recommend reading that link for a detailed explanation of why Herbert Hoover was one of the greatest U.S. presidents, especially by comparison to that godless commie who succeeded him, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

But this last story raises an important question: what happens when a prayer request fails? That last request was made on October 10, 2013. But it seems that God wasn’t in a prayer-granting mood that month, because the Senate did indeed change the rules to forbid filibusters for presidential nominees. In a story published November 21 of that year, the FRC was furious:

Like most liberals, Sen. Reid is still seething that Republicans shot down three radical nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court using one of the only tools at the minority’s disposal: the filibuster.

Today, Democrats used a parliamentary trick to change the Senate rules and strip the minority of the little power they had. In doing so, they blew up a 225-year-old process and cleared the way for a simple majority to rubber stamp the President’s outrageous nominees. Instead of requiring 60 votes to end debate on a nomination, liberals lowered the threshold to 51 — virtually guaranteeing the majority party a blank check to confirm anyone they want, regardless of how extreme or unqualified.

Outrageous! Despicable! Un-American! The FRC has always opposed such shocking power grabs – or at least they have since 2005, when President George W. Bush was the one appointing judges. Here’s from a position paper still available on their website:

Q – Is it constitutional to require a super-majority of 60 votes in the Senate to approve a judicial nominee?
A – We believe it is not.

Given the FRC’s penchant for prayer requests based on the talking points of the day, you’d think they’d be worried that God would get exasperated with them for their contradictory desires (not to mention the shameless way they presume to dictate a political agenda through prayer). Then again, they could just be following his lead – given the number of times God changes his mind, it’s hard to fault his followers for being similarly inconsistent.

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DAYLIGHT ATHEISM Adam Lee is an atheist author and speaker from New York City. His previously published books include "Daylight Atheism," "Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City," and most...