Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Herb Gartner — Prayer: The ultimate cop-out

Vol. 35 No. 8 October 2018
Herb Gartner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

By Herb Gartner

Every time there is a catastrophe, you hear the families, friends, sheriffs and priests say they are praying for the victims. I want to yell out, “Idiots!”

Insensitive? No. Just the opposite.

How can anyone forget about the Holocaust, where 6 million people, some of whom prayed daily, were murdered? We’ve all seen pictures of the starving, emaciated, desperate people standing at fences in concentration camps with tormented, hollow eyes. Did God miss that? Can you imagine an all-powerful, loving, merciful god ignoring that pain and their prayers?

A young woman with cancer who was featured on the news said she knew God would cure her. Well, the doctors might, but God won’t!

It is these religious people who seem unaffected by the pain and suffering of others. They focus on their own reality, not that of the millions who prayed while suffering through wars, famines, disease, slavery and more. Their needs and egos are blind to history and the facts. And their blindness does harm. 

The more religion is promoted as a solution to anything, the more power it’s given to start wars, thwart scientific and medical research, and make communities feel so alienated that they radicalize into violence.

Prayer is a cop-out that trains the brain to be weak and dependent on something that does not exist. It’s futile. People look to prayer for solutions while often opposing human and technological efforts that can actually solve problems.

Starts in the home

We were taught to believe in an all-powerful, loving, merciful God the same time we’re taught to believe in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy . . . by our parents. Religion starts in the home and is perpetuated by peer pressure and by religious opportunists, priests, rabbis, propagandists and unscrupulous profiteers who feed off people’s fears, anxieties and naiveté.

Popes continually pray for peace in the Middle East and the world. How’s that working out? If God won’t answer the pope’s prayers, why would he answer yours?

God is not deaf, dumb and blind . . . just nonexistent.

Point out the inefficacy of prayer to believers and minds go blank; brains turn to mush. People don’t like being questioned about their belief in God. They become angry, frustrated and hostile because they are impotent to give a good answer, including the “free will” argument.

Ah, yes, that old standby, free will. A concept taught by priests so their flocks can hold fast to their beliefs, keep going to church and keep paying the priests’ salaries.

How far will people go to apologize for God? If a boy is setting fire to the cat and stabbing his sister with a knife, does his mother just sit there allowing the child to express his free will? Of course not. She yanks the knife away and douses the cat. Otherwise, what kind of mother would she be? Well, she’d be the kind of mother that God seemingly is now, ignoring pain and suffering and doing nothing. 

The god they pray to has ignored wars, famine and diseases for millennia. Their god allows the worst, most evil of people to torture the best, most innocent people. He allows women to be abducted into slavery and children to be raped by priests. He just sits back and does nothing.

Free will? Last year, over $500 billion in property damage was caused by hurricanes alone. Millions of lives were affected, and families, homes and towns destroyed by natural disasters, all seemingly under God’s control and not free will.

The prayerful demean the lives of millions who suffered unspeakably horrible fates by suggesting their loved one is more worthy of saving than all those innocent men, women and children who came before them. And they pray to their God, who never did a damn thing to help those suffering, and now expect a response to those prayers.

Frankly, and unapologetically, this call to prayer annoys the hell out of me. Their god, by definition, could prevent any tragedy, but doesn’t, but apparently would for them. That is an intolerable degree of perceived self-worth, egomania, arrogance, delusion, ignorance or some combination.     

Despite the pain and suffering endured by millions for eons, religious believers pray. They say, “You can’t question God.” Sorry. You can and must, unless you want to choose fear, naiveté and blissful ignorance over courage, intellect and sanity. And if you choose prayer, then at least stop imposing your ridiculous beliefs and superstitions on everyone else. Keep them to yourself.   

FFRF Member Herb Gartner owns an advertising agency and lives in Jacksonville, Fla.