Pharyngula

Democrats may lose in the next election

The Republicans have a secret weapon, one that is going to be unstoppable, and probably means they are going to dominate both houses of Congress. Phil has discovered (via Randi, who also has another useful item) the most potent electoral tool in the Republican arsenal—better than fear and hate, even more powerful than Diebold—I’m telling you, this thing exceeds the awe-inspiring awesome awesomeness of magnetic “support the troops” ribbons for your car. It’s the Presidential Prayer Team. Sign up, and you will get specific instructions on exactly what to tell God. After all, if we can get a million Americans to tell Him that He needs to protect the sacred institution of marriage from the NJ Supreme Court, He’ll know to ignore the uncoordinated pleas for mercy from those backward primitives in Darfur (where, obviously, God has been doing a bang-up job.)

The Presidential Prayer Team harnesses the power of the Internet and popularity of e-mail to communicate with our members. You will receive up-to-the-minute prayer requests and information. PPT is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and effective users of electronic communication in Christian ministry today. The prayers of PPT members have had an untold impact on America for good and for God.

Oh, yes…untold impact. I quite agree with that. I’m also impressed that sending email to Christians is considered innovative and effective—do keep it up, keep those prayer wheels turning. This is a great way to actually accomplish something.

I have to confess, though, that as an atheist I didn’t really understand why this service was necessary. Don’t Christians pray all the time? Well, was I ever surprised to learn this:

Many have wanted to pray for our President and our country, but haven’t known how to pray or what to pray. The Presidential Prayer Team provides you the most accurate and up-to-date information so that you can pray with intelligence, conviction and power.

Oh. So this web page is for the many millions of Christians who know that they are devout and religious, but don’t know how or what to pray for—they are harnessing the power of the imbeciles of America.

Now I’m really afraid.

Comments

  1. #1 Bruce
    October 28, 2006

    they are harnessing the power of the imbeciles of America.

    Wasn’t this the same “brain trust” that got is into Iraq?

  2. #2 Bobryuu
    October 28, 2006

    Can we infiltrate it? Can we ask for prayers for Darfur and the rights for gays to marry and that everyone wind up in the same state of rotting oblivion when they die? Is this a possibly co-opted service?

  3. #3 pablo
    October 28, 2006

    I have to say that I don’t see the party in power yielding simply because of mere election results. While I don’t think the prayer teams will make a whit of difference (aside from mobilizing the troops), I fully expect some sort of interference should things turn to the left. I understand there are already teams of lawyers working to be ready to contest elections in some areas so that this mess will drag on like the 2000 election. I just can’t see them letting voters get in their way.

  4. #4 ckerst
    October 28, 2006

    If you just use a generic prayer like “please god help the president” god might not be smart enough to know exactly what should be done. It is important that you pray with intelligence, it’s not like going to war where second rate intelligence is o.k.

  5. #5 MartinDH
    October 28, 2006

    By golly! On November 7th the prayer team members should stay on their knees praying hard for Republican victories. They should forget material and naturalistic methods such as voting and leave the results in the hands of Gunderscored and Diebold.

  6. #6 taj
    October 28, 2006

    Every time something like this comes up, I am amused by the implicit assumption that unless these devout people intervene with their skyward petitions, their god may be too stupid to do the right thing.

  7. #7 The Ridger
    October 28, 2006

    Oh, no, Taj. You’ve misunderstood – and quite badly. He’s not too stupid: he’s too petty. Just read the book (any of ’em). If you don’t beg him in exactly the right way in exactly the right words at exactly the right time, he’ll kill you dead, and be smug about it.

  8. #8 Cathy in Seattle
    October 28, 2006

    That’s right! I’m praying right now that Chimpy McFlightsuit never figures out the “on” button to his computer, and accidentally navigates to this site. ‘Cause if he did, he’d unleash the Mighty Awesome Powers of Prayer on our asses.

  9. #9 Cathy in Seattle
    October 28, 2006

    oh yes! THEN we’d be sorry!

  10. #10 khan
    October 28, 2006

    I have a vague memory:
    The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer contained a prayer for the President.

  11. #11 tim gueguen
    October 28, 2006

    Failure of course won’t dissuade the prayers if the Republicans come up short. They’ll just claim its God’s will.

  12. #12 Keanus
    October 28, 2006

    If god were truly intellgent, when the PPT pleads its case, he’d see to it that the Bush team lost as many races as possible. Only by that can the country be rescued from the disaster that has been the Republican dominance of both Congress and the executive.

  13. #13 khan
    October 28, 2006

    I have a vague memory:
    The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer contained a prayer for the President.

  14. #14 minimalist
    October 28, 2006

    Pablo basically has it right, this is solely to keep the ground troops whipped up into a frenzy so they’ll be certain to head to the polls.

    The constant e-mailed “prayer reminders” will no doubt be larded with numerous exhortations to Get Thee to the Pollhouse of the Lord.

  15. #15 Dianne
    October 28, 2006

    Given the results when the efficacy of prayer was tested, I’d say Democrats should encourage the Reps to pray…especially if it keeps them from spending their time in more effective interventions.

  16. #16 writerdd
    October 28, 2006

    ahhahahahhahahha!HAHHAHAHHHAH!

  17. #17 llewelly
    October 28, 2006

    I have a vague memory:
    The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer contained a prayer for the President.

    See THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER: Prayers and Thanksgivings and scroll down to item 19:

    19. For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority
    O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
    page 821

    (from here)

  18. #18 Zeno
    October 28, 2006

    I am an enthusiastic proponent of prayer. I firmly believe that devout religionists of all stripes should spent as much time as possible on their knees or prostrate or whatever other posture their gods prefer. Constant prayer will thereby lead to domestic tranquility, world peace, and unmolested management of businesses, schools, and government by more sensible people.

    May I suggest a 24-hour nonstop prayer marathon on Election Day?

  19. #19 Arun
    October 28, 2006

    As usual, in your god-hatred, you miss the point of this being part of the Republican organization, that will be asked to help with its get-out-the-vote effort. At a minimum, here they have a mailing list of committed supporters of the President. If someone can organize a similar atheist network of the opposition, then one might be entitled to sneer at it. If one has no equivalent organizing principle, one can just hope this one falls flat.

    Remember that typically 60% of the electorate does not vote. Find a few percent of your supporters among these, and get them to vote, and you win elections, doesn’t matter what the opinion polls are saying. This kind of network will not only provide prayers but the feet and hands and dialling fingers to get out the Repub. vote.

  20. #20 Bardiac
    October 28, 2006

    This is one of those times when a little etymology can be lots of fun (as opposed to entymology, which is fun at other times).

    The “tell” in “untold” relates not so much to the modern usage (to inform), but to the older usage, to count or reckon (also the source of tellers in banks).

    So really, it’s an uncounted impact, perhaps because uncountable? hmmmm?

  21. #21 Russell
    October 28, 2006

    Worry not, Arun. We understand quite well that this kind of devotion is indeed an effective tool for the retention of political power. Religion has served that purpose back to the mist of prehistory.

    And no, those of us who favor reason have no similar weapon in our arsenal. Even if we were to try to create such a thing, I suspect it would defeat the purpose for which we fight. You cannot weaken mysticism by creating a new form of mysticism.

  22. #22 raindogzilla
    October 28, 2006

    I have joined the team and prayed for the nekkid Emperor’s happiness clearing brush in Crawford as soon as possible. I have also prayed for a new set of travelling clothes, in the finest creosote and Hühnerdown, for his Highness, along with a rail pass.

    For the Emperor Regent, I have beseeched Gawd for such an intense pressure in his mighty chest as to turn his bituminous heart into priceless diamond- and a top of the line, Mr.Potter-model wheelchair.

    And the Secretary of State shall receive an extra-strength retainer/headset as well as a pair of cement Ferragamos.

    No, folks, don’t thank me, thank Gawd.

  23. #23 sawtooth
    October 28, 2006

    If Democrats win the praying Republicans can make up something like the Devil had control and they just didn’t pray hard enough. It’s really a no win situation as they will need some sort of fictional reason why prayer failed. Of course, if they win they’ll find evidence that prayer worked. If the Republicans do keep control they can likely thank the lack of Hurricanes affecting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico this fall helping to keep oil prices down. Which, of course, has nothing to do with praying right now for Republicans to win.

  24. #24 Zeno
    October 28, 2006

    Oh, Geez, Arun. We know the Presidential Prayer Team is just a front for yet another right-wing political group. The people who are mocking it here are mostly making fun of the idea that “prayer” is the secret weapon. Do you think we nonbelievers who share your opposition to the president’s extremist policies are spending all of our time just jeering at the opposition? I, for one, have been putting my money where my mouth is and sending contributions across the country. In my spare time, though, I like to make fun of thinly veiled Republican operations like the Presidential Prayer Team. Time to write a few more letters, too.

    Haven’t done much praying, though.

  25. #25 Derick Ovenall
    October 28, 2006

    As far as praying for royalty is concerned, and after all, our beloved leader IS royalty, this was tested in the 19th century by Francis Galton, an English statistician and a half-cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton pointed out that every Sunday, in all the Anglican churches across the nation, the king and the royal family were prayed for by an appreciable fraction of the population. Galton did the math and found that the life expectancies of British Royals were no higher that those of the general population. In other words, he got the same result as in the recent study on prayer and heart patients, and Galton wasn’t even funded by the Templeton Foundation!

  26. #26 Hal
    October 28, 2006

    Ahhh, an opportunity for controlled determination of which, if any, g_d exists. The outcome of the elections no doubt will be the will of an actual, existing g_d, which can be identified by the cluster of persons praying to him/her/it/them. Those persons, should they condescend to do so, can impart the identity of that g_d, and all the superfluous trash g_ds can then be humanely disposed of.

  27. #27 AlanW
    October 28, 2006

    I like how their little map is all blue….hmmmm?

  28. #28 George
    October 28, 2006

    Hey kids, you can get involved too!

    http://www.pptkids.org/index.php

    Visit the Presidential Prayer Team for Kids, and be prepared to throw up.

    “Here are some key points to keep in mind as you pray:

    Remembering that God is completely sovereign, pray for His will to be done!

    Pray for people to long for godly leaders and to vote for those who will honor God and His Word.

    Pray that Americans will be stirred in their hearts to pray and seek God’s will before they vote.

    Pray for the safety of everyone as they make their way to polling places.

    Pray that our country will be protected from anyone or anything that would try to hurt us in a big way in order to affect the outcome of the elections.

    Pray for good weather across the country so that people can make it to their polling places without difficulty.

    Pray that people will have generous spirits on Election Day, offering rides and other kinds of assistance to those who need help getting out to vote.

    Pray that Christians will remember their responsibility and privilege and will enthusiastically get out and vote, thanking God for their freedom!”

  29. #29 llewelly
    October 28, 2006

    Pray that Americans will be stirred in their hearts to pray and seek God’s will before they vote.

    Did you hear that, Democrats? That’s your chance to get to the polls early, and vote while the republicans are still on their knees.

  30. #30 G. Tingey
    October 28, 2006

    For “Arun” and others….

    I thought that “Praying” had been shown to have advesre effects?
    – Even worse that my own proposition: “Prayer as no effect on third parties”

    Erm.

  31. #31 Zuckerfrosch
    October 28, 2006

    I remember in 2004, I was canvassing in Pennsylvania for Kerry, and I went up to a house with giant Bush-Cheney signs on the lawn and “I vote pro-life” bumper stickers on the car. But I had a list with that address on it, so I rang the doorbell, and the woman who answered asked who I was for. So when I told her “Kerry,” she looked disappointed and said, “well I’m just praying that He [pointing upwards] does something to make sure Bush wins.” So I said “okay, God bless,” and walked away, thinking, you pray, I’ll knock on doors and turn out the vote. I realize the story loses some of its punch since Kerry lost, but hey, at least we carried Pennsylvania.

  32. #32 llewelly
    October 28, 2006

    And no, those of us who favor reason have no similar weapon in our arsenal. Even if we were to try to create such a thing, I suspect it would defeat the purpose for which we fight. You cannot weaken mysticism by creating a new form of mysticism.

    A ‘similar weapon’ need not involve mysticism. Among atheists, the ‘similar weapon’ would be people like PZ using their blogs to build opt-in address lists for recruiting get-out-the-vote and campaign workers.

  33. #33 talapus
    October 28, 2006

    My thought on reading PZ’s post was that this is a remarkably clever (==diabolical) religion-based viral GOTV campaign that circumvents the barriers to political campaigning by churches.

  34. #34 Don
    October 28, 2006

    That site also has an ‘Adopt Our Troops’ side bar. With 165,565 troops, 557,200 adopters and 1,031,970 total adoptions. Which means some troops have been adopted eight or nine times – but four are still waiting.

    What are these? The ones with the hare-lips? My heart goes out to them,. While their chums are getting eight or nine prayers a day, these four wake up every morning, their little eyes shining with hope that today, oh today, I will be adopted. But no, it’s the cute ones they want.

  35. #35 Greg
    October 28, 2006

    Not only can we join the Presidential Prayer Team, but we can try to influence our clergy as well . . .

    “Be sure to send your pastor or other clergy person your heartfelt appreciation with this free PPT eCard. “

  36. #36 Maureen Lycaon
    October 28, 2006

    This is a lot more disturbing.

  37. #37 artur
    October 28, 2006

    The Presidential Prayer Team provides you the most accurate and up-to-date information so that you can pray with intelligence, conviction and power.

    Precision-guided prayer?

  38. #38 jay denari
    October 28, 2006

    As soon as I saw the following article, I had the unpleasantly (not-so) paranoid thought they know the machines are going to be corrupted (note the bold text):

    Early voting strong in Maricopa County

    Robbie Sherwood
    The Arizona Republic
    Oct. 28, 2006 12:00 AM

    Voter turnout for the Nov. 7 general election could be high if early-ballot requests are any indication.

    Early voting is strong in Maricopa County, with approximately 470,000 requests received by Friday’s deadline, said Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne. There are 1.5 million registered voters in the county.

    She cautioned that Election Day turnout might not be very brisk because of a long ballot.

    Osborne did note one “anomaly”: Nearly 90,000 more Republicans than Democrats have early ballots but have not yet mailed them back. The gap is usually only half that large at this time, she said.

    Republicans typically vote by mail in larger percentages than Democrats, but the numbers could be a sign of an extra effort by state and federal candidates to get out Republican voters in the GOP stronghold of Maricopa County, said Doug Cole, a campaign strategist.

    Of the early-ballot requests in Maricopa County, 52 percent came from Republicans, 32 percent from Democrats and 16 percent from independents and unaffiliated voters.

    More than 125,000 mail-in ballots have been cast.

    Statewide, early-ballot requests were nearing 700,000 late this week.

  39. #39 Tiax
    October 29, 2006

    We have only one option to counter. We must form an atheist non-prayer team! We shall sit around and say to ourselves, “While I see nothing to be gained from making wishes to non-existent and thus powerless entities, I really would like it if the Dems would do well.”

    It’ll be at least as effective as the PPT.

  40. #40 Barry Leiba
    October 29, 2006

    Since I can’t get trackbacks to work here, this is a trackback to my comments on this.

  41. #41 CJ
    October 29, 2006

    Now if the faithful would just depend on their little prayer ring and stay home on election day, that’s freedom of religion I could get behind.

  42. #42 jessica
    November 1, 2006

    I think the Republicans secret weapon is Kerry (and all the other nutcases the Democrats keep picking as a leader!) Kerry’s recent comments are a disgrace, especially with Vetran’s Day only a few weeks ago.

    Sheesh…if this is who the Democrats want to run the country, no wonder they lost the last election! The democrats need to quite waffling, and pick a position on the issues. Instead, they are trying to please everyone (except the non-relativists, of course) by changing their stance on the issues every week.

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