BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) With the state’s weather forecasters not delivering much-needed rain, Gov. Bob Riley has turned to a higher power, issuing a proclamation calling for a week of prayer for rain.
Riley encouraged Alabamians to pray, starting Saturday (June 30), “individually and in their houses of worship.”
“Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for his blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty,” Riley said. “This drought is without question a time of great difficulty.”
On Sunday, a series of strong thunderstorms brought torrential rain, flash floods and lightning to the area, but apparently not enough to bring much relief to the drought-stricken area.
“I don’t think it made a big dent,” said Patrick Gatlin with the National Weather Service’s Huntsville office. “… This is the most rain we’ve seen in quite some time but it definitely won’t get us back to normal.”
State proclamations for the national day of prayer and other broad, nondenominational religious observances are fairly common, said the Rev.
Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. But government calls for intercessory-type prayer are rare, he said.
“He shouldn’t do these things that raise the specter of government promoting a particular religion,” Lynn said. “It’s just a bad idea.”
By Stan Diel and Budd McLaughlin
Religion News Service