Political Prayer

October 15, 2008

A pastor praying at a John McCain rally urged God to help McCain win since people of other religions are praying for Barack Obama to win (see video below). The pastor apparently thinks this is a test case for God and that some people's faith might be shaken if McCain loses. Here is part of his prayer:

I also would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god--whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah--that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.
There are many problems with this prayer. The first problem is that there are probably many Christians praying for Obama to win and people of other faiths praying for McCain to win, so the pastor has created a false dichotomy. The second problem is that our faith should not rest upon who wins elections. If someone's faith in God is shaken by McCain losing the election, then are they really believing and trusting in God? The third problem is that such partisan remarks in a public prayer are inappropriate. This attempt to box God into a set partisan mold hurts our democratic process and profanes God. Let us pray that this and other pastors will avoid prayers like this in the future.

Here are a couple of columns I have written that touch on similar problems with politicizing of prayer:
Stop Playing Politics with Prayer
Religious Right Prays for "Good Rain" Over Obama