“Would it be Wrong to Pray for Rain?”

A couple of years ago, someone posed a question to my friend Reg Braithwaite that began with “Would it be unethical if…?”

“Hold it right there,” said Reg before the guy could finish asking his question. “In my experience, if you have to ask a question that starts with ‘Would it be unethical’, chances are, it probably is unethical.”

I was reminded of Reg’s words a couple of days ago when I saw the video below. It features Stuart Shepherd of Focus on the Family suggesting that people pray for non-lethal but convention-ruining rain at the Democratic National Convention. As one would expect, he didn’t suggest it directly; he instead took the weasel route and posed it as a question: “Would it be wrong to ask people to pray for rain?” “Not flood-people-out-of-their-houses-rain,” of course — that would be wrong — but “network cameras can’t see the podium rain.”

Here’s the video featuring Shepherd’s weaselly suggestion:

You won’t find this video on Focus on the Family’s site anymore, as a number of people who actually follow Jesus’ teachings protested the video, and rightly so. Luckily for us, the video lives on as an example of how not to behave, thanks to YouTube.

Asking God to harm or even inconvenience your fellow human being — and doing so with advance schadenfeude? That’s not Christianity — that’s voodoo.

In response, they said “it was a joke”. It’s a strange defense for people who throw major conniption fits whenever someone pokes fun at their religion or makes a mockery of prayer.

And what of the apparent response to these prayers? Perfect weather for the Democratic National Convention and storms on the Gulf Coast coinciding with the start of the Republican National Convention, forcing them to change plans, rearrange schedules and do whatever they could to not remind people of all the Hurricane Katrina missteps.

There’s an opportunity for Shepherd to make a new video about how God deals with inappropriate uses of prayer, but somehow I doubt they’ll take advantage of it.

One reply on ““Would it be Wrong to Pray for Rain?””

I first heard that principle during a radio call-in show offering Ann Landers-style personal advice. The caller asked “I was at an office party and after having a few drinks, I ended up smooching with a coleague under the mistletoe. Was I cheating?”

The response? “Ask your wife.” There was a short silence. “Exactly!” continued the host.

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