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Today’s post is by SASHA guest contributor, Tara Schlotzhauer.
While I may be an atheist, I have many real life friends and acquaintances whom are religious; given that I live in middle of the Bible Belt of Missouri, the religion of choice is Christianity. Thus, it is not surprising that on a daily basis that I see at least one status on Facebook invoking some sort of help from God or thanks to God. At times, they are actually what I would consider legitimate concerns to pray for such as when a loved one is very sick or even dying. While I don’t agree with pray, I understand their need to let people know and the need to invoke good thinking towards them in this time of need.
However, more often than not, I come across a Facebook status where the person is praying for something that I would think is totally inappropriate to ask of God. For example, in the last couple of months, I have seen the following prays: asking for their football team to win the Superbowl/playoffs, asking for a big enough tax return to be able to buy a new Xbox 360/TV, asking for someone to be motivated to take their work shift so they don’t have to work, asking for God to send them someone to love and whom will love them, asking for their parents to buy them a new computer for their birthday, asking for the Supreme Court to overturn a court case where separation of church and state was upheld, etc.
As superficial and silly as I find all of these, I read a status from last night and a follow up this morning by a young high school girl that finally motivated me to write this post and share:
That’s right. A young high school girl spent all weekend not doing her homework (I know from reading other statuses regarding her weekend plans) and prayed for snow (that had already been predicted for days) to cancel classes. Then, when said predicted snow happens and classes are cancelled, she thanks God for the snow day and says this is why she is a Christian. This is also the same girl who, on Friday, posted about how many times she has dropped her phone over the course of the day (twice being in a toilet) but that God must be looking out for her because her phone still works…
I also do not know what is worse: the trivial prayer request or the number of people who liked the statuses (which I take to be agreement or approval).
While I cannot articulately express my frustration over the lack of thought by some Christians regarding the power of prayer, I can relate a great story I heard from another skeptic this past weekend at Reasonfest in Lawrence, KS.
While discussing the power of prayer with a friend who happen to be a preacher, the gentlemen gave the example of how prayer works in our lives by telling of how, a few weeks back, his wife lost her keys and was running late so she prayed for God to help her find her keys and, after a moment, peace surrounded her, she found them. My friend replied to this “touching story of prayer in action” by asking the question: So in order for prayer to work, you have to really mean it and pray really hard? Does that mean that all the families who pray for their family members of cancer did not pray hard enough? Does that mean all the starving children all over the world who prayed to God or had others praying for them did not really mean it? Or was it that God was too busy helping your wife find her car keys to help someone else who really needed his help for something more serious?
Take a moment to re-read that story to let it all sink in.
Scary enough on its own is how often, when I ask Christians why God will answer silly prayers or help people in trivial ways but does nothing about suffering the world, I get to hear these words: “God works in mysterious ways. As mere mortals, we can’t understand his reasoning or his plan but we have to trust in the Lord.”
I’m going to call BS on this. If there is a God and part of his plan includes pain, suffering, starving children, and people dying from horrible diseases, you can count me out. However, the more logical answer is that is either God is not real or, if he is real, is not all powerful or does not take an active hand in the world.
Tara Schlotzhauer is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Photography and her Master of Science in Technology. She is the Secretary of Central Skeptics at the University of Central Missouri and works with her boyfriend and fellow SASHA guest blogger Brandon Christen running the Warrensburg, MO chapter of Recovering from Religion.
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