A Note to Speaker Ryan: Prayer Won’t Turn Flint’s Poisoned Water into Wine

Speaker Paul Ryan claimed at the National Prayer Breakfast that ‘Prayer Should Always Come First.’ First before what? The Constitution? The First Amendment specifically? Freedom of Religion? The freedom from religion the First Amendment demands?

“I want to welcome all of you to Washington. You could not have come for a better reason. This breakfast is a national tradition because prayer is a part of our national heritage. It all goes back to the Declaration of Independence. We believe our rights come from God, and our job, as officeholders, is to protect those rights. So it is only natural we should ask for His guidance as we seek to do His will.”

This is an interesting choice of words, since the oath sworn is to uphold the Constitution, not to do his god’s will.

Watch the speech courtesy of Speaker Paul Ryan:

According to Ryan:

“But I have noticed a growing impatience with prayer in our culture. You see it in the papers or on Twitter. When people say they’re praying for someone or something, the attitude in some quarters seems to be, ‘Don’t just pray; do something about it.’ But the thing is, when you are praying, you are doing something about it. You are revealing the presence of God. Whenever people are in grief or even when they’re about to start a great undertaking, they feel the worst pain of all: They feel alone. How am I going to get through this? Why is this happening to me? ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

Words are meaningless if not backed up by action. It does the people of Flint no good at all to be told somebody is praying for them. What they need is water that will not kill them or their families. Supposedly pro-life Republicans have a difficult time understanding this concept.

Ryan went on to claim:

“That is why there is nothing more comforting—or more humbling, really—than to hear someone say, ‘I’m praying for you.’ Because when hear you that, you realize, you’re not alone. God is there. And hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people are all speaking to Him on your behalf. They’re not praying for some abstract notion. They’re praying for you the person. It says a lot about our country that people of both parties—and all faiths—will drop everything and pray for their fellow Americans. What it says is, we believe in the dignity of the individual. And that is why prayer should always come first.”

No, what it says is that you believe in your god. Prayer is fine, but prayer is not action. When people pray, you do not see God come down and heal them. Or turn poisoned water into wine. It just doesn’t happen. It takes action. It takes money Ryan and his hypocrites are not willing to supply.

“All Americans believe this. But as Christians, we especially can appreciate this truth. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe God came down from heaven and became a man—with a name and a body—so we could know him. We could begin to understand. He walked among the poor and lowly of this world so he could raise us to new heights in the next. It is a miracle. It inspires us every day. And that is why we should ‘rejoice always’; ‘pray without ceasing’; and ‘in all circumstances, give thanks.’ Thank you.”

All Americans? Ryan seems clueless to the fact that only some two-thirds of Americans remain Christians. There are Muslims Hindus, atheists, and people of all religions in this country who do not believe in Jesus Christ, to whom the invoking of that name means nothing, or that prayer should come first.

It’s telling that when disaster strikes their home districts, it’s money that comes first. It is only when troubles afflict others that prayer becomes the answer. Often, the only answer.

The Republican Party is an exclusive party, a party that represents only a segment of the American people, only a portion of the electorate. They do not represent most Americans, and they have no interest in doing so. And Paul Ryan, speaking at the prayer breakfast, offered ample proof of that.

Ryan speaks often of uniting conservatives. Well, that is one subject on which conservatives stand united, and that is the idea of a country by and for whatever passes for Christians on the Religious Right. The Founding Fathers called that religious tyranny. And the Constitution Ryan swore to uphold forbids it.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.

Copyright PoliticusUSA LLC 2008-2023