A prayer is often needed and let’s not be so hasty to judge

Published: August 1, 2006 | 4535th good news item since 2003

While I fully support the separation of church and state that has long granted all Americans the freedom to honor and observe their own religious traditions, I also believe strongly in the power of prayer. And I am not afraid to admit that or to ask my God for help.

My less than stellar choices and the twists and turns of life have often landed me in a prayerful mode with my higher power, and I continue to be blessed in ways too countless to list.

When I heard this week that our governor was asking for prayer for rain and an end to the heat and drought gripping the state, I was first surprised and maybe taken aback a bit and then pleased to join in what I hope has been a collective chorus to the heavens seeking divine intervention in breaking this spell of horrific heat and dryness.

Gov. Mike Rounds did not order citizens to pray nor did he impose any penalties on those who choose not to pray. Therefore, I don’t really think it such a big deal to ask for some prayer and reflection.

It seems that we have become very defensive and quick to offend on religious issues and other moral topics, and anything that smacks of something to which we do not ascribe is immediately to be fought.

I fear that some of this stems from the abortion debate still raging in our state and nation. There has been some blurring of the lines between church and state in many situations, and some people have been unfairly labeled and condemned on both sides of this highly charged issue. Some have felt God was on their side in this argument and in others.

Look at the conflict in the Middle East. Which god is right in that ancient battle? To whom should an Israeli child pray? And the Palestinian or Lebanese mother? Whose prayers will be answered?

Surely one child’s life is as precious as the next. Each has a right to life, do they not?

But is that really the same philosophical mystery we face when we hear our governor ask for prayer? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it’s a bit different.

My colleague argues that the governor should worry less about prayer and worry more about getting some aid for drought stricken farmers and ranchers. Not a bad idea, but the two courses of action are not mutually exclusive, nor did I hear anywhere that Gov. Rounds would simply pray for rain.

It’s easy to make a target out of a governor or any other official who speaks from the heart. I believe Rounds spoke from the heart when he asked for some healing rain from the heavens.

Is asking for prayer really so bad? And did Rounds cross the line when he proclaimed a special week for prayer?

Some of the same people who are objecting to this call for prayer are supporting a buffer zone around the state park at Bear Butte largely because of its sacred status to Native Americans. The butte is a sacred site for prayer. Should we forbid that prayer on state maintained property?

I don’t know how one can hold a view supporting that sort of public protection of religious tradition and then chastise Rounds for his low-key call for prayer. Just who does it hurt?

When I first learned much about Gov. Rounds he was simply an alternative candidate in a Republican primary that had become quite nasty between the frontrunner and the most financially well backed opponent. Rounds was far behind in the polls.

But South Dakota voters rejected the negativity and the aggression that marked the communications between those candidates and chose Rounds. That was a loud message.

We want our governor to reflect the best that we are. And with his call for some prayer, I think this governor was attempting to honor just one avenue for hope and for intervention.

Let’s not beat up on him for this. In fact, how about if we say a prayer for him every now and then?

I will hope the governor spends a few moments every day seeking heavenly guidance for the challenges he faces daily. That would be reassuring to me.

I see the proclamation for prayer as a huge step up for the Rounds administration from a previous summer’s proclamation of a G. Gordon Liddy Day (of Watergate fame) in South Dakota. That proclamation was apparently signed in error and ultimately withdrawn. I see no need for any similar course this time.

It’s no mistake to seek help from the heavens where ultimately the healing balm of rain will come. Money from Washington will not solve every drought-related hurt.

Published in Community, Faith, Politics
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