A few years ago then Governor Rick Perry of Texas was leading a state suffering through one of the worst droughts of its history, the precise opposite challenge they face today. Perry issued a proclamation for three days of prayer, where citizens could appeal to Heaven for God’s blessing and provision. Unsurprisingly, anti-God leftist groups went berserk, in both condemnation and mockery of the Governor.
Fast-forward just six years and another Governor, this time Matt Bevin of Kentucky, has asked his citizens to pray albeit for a different cause, and is getting the same treatment. Bevin asked that faith-based volunteers participate in community outreach in an effort to stem the rising tide of crime in Kentucky’s biggest city of Louisville.
In a community meeting, Bevin encouraged volunteers of faith,
“You know, you walk to a corner, pray for the people, talk to the people along the way. No songs, no singing, no bullhorn, no T-shirts, no chanting. Be pleasant, talk to the people, that’s it.”
From nearly every angle conceivable, this is a good deed. You can even believe the prayer part is meaningless and recognize that having loving people walking the streets of Louisville talking politely, encouraging, and being pleasant to others is positive. So naturally, the sour grinches of Wisconsin, the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” decided to attack it.
This surprises precisely no one, of course. It’s who FFRF is, who they want to be for some reason, and that isn’t going to change. But what is particularly shocking is to see supposed ministers of the gospel of Jesus oppose this idea.
Yet that is exactly what Pastor Joe Phelps, an outspoken activist for left-wing politics, is doing. In a statement that boggles any mind remotely connected to the heart of Jesus, Phelps found his way behind a microphone and intoned,
“I believe in prayer…[but] that’s not the answer here, and for him to reduce the problems of violence to getting people to go pray for a block is an embarrassment to Christianity.”
Actually, no pastor, it’s not. Having supposed ministers suggest that prayer isn’t at least a large part of the solution to mankind’s biggest problems is the embarrassment to Christianity. I understand that Phelps fills his offering plates by sensationalizing political stands that separate him from mainstream Christianity. I get that his livelihood is built around maintaining a self-imposed black sheep persona – the James Dean of Kentucky Christianity.
But when you are incapable of applauding a public official for his call to pray in and for our cities, it should serve as a frightening indication to you that you have allowed your politics to assume a place of prominence in your heart that is spiritually unhealthy.
Other Christians will dismiss Phelps’ criticism as there mere antics of a guy who relishes being a contrarian within Christendom. That’s unfortunate. God has given Phelps a platform and an outreach to a great number of people who turn to him for spiritual guidance. To use that platform to attack the value and power of prayer, for no reason other than taking a cheap political shot at a Governor you don’t like, is the manifestation of astoundingly regrettable human pride.
Phelps deserves, and must receive, the sternest of rebukes from all believers.