Yesterday, Governor Robert Bentley resigned his position, making way for Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey to be sworn in as the 54th Governor of Alabama. I watched the swearing-in ceremony begin with a prayer, an oath sworn on a bible, and an ensuing speech invoking the almighty. Seeing all that pageantry, I realized how futile all that prayer really is.
None of these prayers and oaths seem to be working.
Despite Alabama’s religious social climate, it’s the people invoking the Christian deity which seem to be having the hardest time of things. Gov. Bentley misused public and campaign funds to cover up his religious wrongdoing. Last year, the former Speaker of the House got convicted on ethics charges, and Chief Justice Roy Moore got suspended for defying a federal court order on gay marriage. All these people prayed and thanked their deity on camera, but it didn’t stop them from doing immoral and unethical things.
It’s not for a lack of prayer, either. Alabama is tied for first with Mississippi regarding religious levels. Almost 3/4 of Alabamians claim to pray on a daily basis, and 82% say they believe in God with absolute certainty. Only Utah has a higher rate of people that go to church every Sunday.
Despite this, Alabama doesn’t do well compared to other states. The National Education Association’s 2015 ranking report lists Alabama as 37th in average teacher pay, below the national average (and lower than the previous year’s average pay). Alabama ranks 46th among states for per capita income, ranks 44th among states for high school graduation rates, and generally doesn’t do well among corruption metrics.
Despite this, prayer will still be blamed for anything good happening to the state.
Any improvements Alabamians make for their state will quickly get attributed to a deity smiling upon us, while anything bad gets blamed on the iniquity rampant in today’s society. It leads to a generic fatalism that nothing can change because for all intents and purposes, it’s all according to a divine plan. People have to settle for corrupt politics and bad local government for no other reason than god wills it. The divine narrative can’t be contradicted, otherwise evil will win.
I cannot think of any more obvious example of how prayer and being good with an invisible entity has done nobody in this state any favors. Prayer did not tell any religious person Bentley committed ethical violations and wasted state money on keeping an affair quiet. Not a single prayer helped.
Instead of asking a deity for candy, maybe people should pursue better lawmakers with the same fervor they have for Sunday worship. At least then we’ll stand a better chance of improving life and liberty for people in this state.