August 20, 2007

Politicians on theology

Melissa Rogers points to one of the few parts of the Democratic debate that I caught yesterday where the candidates were asked (by someone in Iowa) about their belief in prayer and how it works.

Here was the question:
"My question is to understand each candidates' view of a personal God. Do they believe that, through the power of prayer, disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the Minnesota bridge collapse could have been prevented or lessened?"
Personally, I thought it was a stupid question, but there it was. It implies that those disasters were acts of God, which really bugs me. Certainly, the hurricane was a force of nature and no one had any control over that. But the "disaster" portion of it was almost purely man made. And the Minnesota bridge collapse? Come on. How about blaming a no-taxes for anything approach? That bridge didn't collapse from some cosmic cough. It went down because it failed and human beings failed to catch that it was failing.

Obama had one of the better answers:
OBAMA: Most of the issues that we're debating here today are ones that we have the power to change.

We don't have the power to prevent illness in all cases, but we do have the power to make sure that every child gets a regular checkup and isn't going to the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma.

We may not have the power to prevent a hurricane, but we do have the power to make sure that the levees are properly reinforced and we've got a sound emergency plan.

And so, part of what I pray for is the strength and the wisdom to be able to act on those things that I can control. And that's what I think has been lacking sometimes in our government.

OBAMA: We've got to express those values through our government, not just through our religious institutions.
I am not bashing prayer, but praying for the poor and then voting against them seems problematic to me.


Bootleg Blogger said...

I wonder what they'd answer if someone asked them whether or not God would act on prayers to make their enemies' children orphans and wives widows? Questions like this make me wonder if some christians don't see god being alot like some of the spirits in the religious practices of people most westerners would call "animists". If not appeased by prayers of enough people, disasters will happen. If enough people pray in the right way and with enough "faith" the disaster is avoided. Sounds like a petty, arbitrary, almost human kind of being to me. Not really one that would be associated much with love. Later- BB

Streak said...

Absolutely, BB. I could not agree more. I honestly think that many Christians have not ever thought through the logic of what they profess, nor ever considered how close it is to the cosmology of people they detest.

steve s said...

As much as I am not a fan of Obama, he did a brilliant job of answering one of the dumbest questions ever asked at a debate. I find that question somewhat insulting.

I honestly don't know any Christians that believe if you pray hard enough or in the right way, God will do what you want, like some kind of genie.

Tony said...


Google "Word of Faith" and you will be surprised how many pop up. There is a whole denomination devoted to that teaching. Paula White, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Ken Hagin, etc.

Those churches "make" several million dollars a year. Joel Osteen's church, Lakewood, is the old Compaq building in Houston TX and seats 16,000. Not to mention that he tours every year and you actually have to pay to hear him preach. Something wrong there.