Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin last month called on state residents to pray for the oil industry.
Fallin issued a proclamation declaring Oct. 13 “Oilfield Prayer Day.” The proclamation notes that “Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of oil and natural gas” and “Christians acknowledge such natural resources are created by God.” It concludes by asking residents to “thank God for the blessings created by the oil and natural gas industry and to seek His wisdom and ask for protection.” The proclamation was later altered to remove specific Christian references.
The oil industry in Oklahoma has fallen on hard times as of late. Oil prices worldwide have plummeted, leading to job layoffs. It’s estimated that about one-quarter of all jobs in the state can be tied to the oil industry.
The Rev. Tom Beddow of Ada, coordinator of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Oil Patch Chaplains ministry, told the Oklahoma City Oklahoman that the prayers are needed.
“The oil field is hurting right now,” Beddow said. “We’re asking churches all over Oklahoma to open their doors, put on a pot of coffee and pray for the oil field, and not only for the oil field but the state, because the economy of our state is so connected to the oil field.”
But Americans United was not convinced. Barry W. Lynn, AU executive director, wrote a letter to Fallin urging her to drop the prayer crusade. Government officials, Lynn said, have no right to sponsor religious events or try to direct the prayers of citizens.