The Council for Secular Humanism is attacking the Obama administration for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack saying he prays for rain to end the nationwide draught.
“I get on my knees every day,” Vilsack said at the White House press briefing on Wednesday. “And I’m saying an extra prayer now. If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it.”
In a statement, Tom Flynn, the executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, said Vilsack's mention of prayer "sends the wrong message to distraught farmers."
“[Praying] for rain? That’s not just government entangling itself with religion, that’s government publicly practicing it, and wallowing in superstition,” he said.
The full release is below:
Agriculture Secretary Out of Line to Pray for Rain, Says Council for Secular Humanism
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters at the White House that he is praying for rain to end the drought parching 61 percent of the United States. “I get on my knees every day,” he said on July 18. “And I’m saying an extra prayer now. If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it.”
“The Obama Administration has been criticized by secular humanists for backpedaling on then-candidate Obama’s campaign pledge to reverse Bush-era policies that provide federal funding to religious charities that discriminate in hiring,” said Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and editor of its journal Free Inquiry. “But praying for rain? That’s not just government entangling itself with religion, that’s government publicly practicing it, and wallowing in superstition.”
This summer’s prolonged drought, the worst in a quarter-century, is devastating crops and parching livestock. It may bring sharply higher food prices later this year.
“It sends the wrong message to distraught farmers when the Agriculture Secretary suggests that the best response is to pray,” said Flynn. “For a Cabinet official to recommend prayer as a solution or call attention to his own devotions may violate the Constitution’s prohibition against establishment of religion. Most important, though, is that prayer doesn’t work. But if you want to test the power of prayer yourself, consider this. Apparently Secretary Vilsack’s been praying for rain every day; how’s that working out?”