Rain, the ABC, and the heresy of mentioning prayer

The ABC has been caught out in the rain and subjected to a torrent of tweets demanding a retraction. They ran a story about the rain that is falling in NSW with the blasphemous headline, “Prayers answered as NSW rainfall extinguishes 74-day Currowan bushfire”.

Thousands of comments have poured down over Twitter and Facebook, expressing anger at the ABC for daring to use the word, prayer. 

“Prayers have no place in journalism. #ThisisNotJournalism”

ABC news… prayers had nothing to do with it. Please delete this offensive tweet. #FreedomFromReligion

“Prayers answered” ???

Seriously  @abcnews get this religious propaganda out of your lexicon. The rain came because science. Nothing more nothing less.  Sure as shootin’ not because someone asked nicely for it.”

I suspect the choice of wording had nothing to do with actual belief in God, as though the editor was personally thanking God or encouraging readers to do so. Like millions of Australians every day, we borrow words and ideas from Christianity to express our own thoughts. In this case, someone at the ABC probably thought they were being cute.  It’s a rather innocuous and generic way of noting thankfulness that the bushfires have been extinguished.

But in Australia today, this cannot be tolerated. References to God cannot be permitted unless it is in the pursuit of mocking religion. Religion (and specifically, Christianity) is to be ridiculed by the media in the most celebratory and obnoxious ways, but no one is to dilute the purity of worship to secularism. Introducing the word prayer is sacrilege. It might encourage someone to, you know, actually pray to God. Worse still, maybe there’s a religious person working for the ABC and they’re trying to brainwash the country with subtle suggestions of Divine power.

Our friendly neighbourhood secularists have reminded us, even an irreligious use of a religious word must be opposed. I couldn’t help but turn a little smile as I noted that some of the people yelling at the ABC today were, only weeks earlier, defending the ABC for its evenhandedness and balanced reporting.  But now, they are demanding to know the name of the editor who approved the headline; no doubt to shame them and call for their immediate dismissal.

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Wait till the outrage mob realise that there are Christians working at the Bureau of Meteorology and that some of our country’s Climate Change scientists are also Christian! Yes, that’s right, scientists who also pray. Scientists who believe in God and in the Bible!

The ABC has now repented of their grievous sin. The headline has been replaced, but our moral judges are not yet satisfied. What guarantees will be put in place so that this never happens again?

In contrast to this irrational and over the top reaction to the ABC, I think prayer is great.  We should thank God for the rain, for the rain has put out dreadful fires. We should also ask God for safety for those who may experience flooding, just as we have done so with the recent fires.

 

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 4.58.14 pmA friend of mine who lives in the Blue Mountains faced the threat of bushfire only a month ago. This weekend he called the SES for sandbags to help protect his home from floodwaters. Fire and flood remind us that the world, as wonderful as it is, is not the safe and secure environment that we long for. As we have been reminded in recent weeks, humanity has done much to harm the world; it is, to use a biblical word, cursed. It is both a place of extraordinary beauty and terror. In the current cultural climate, we mostly focus on the things we don’t like. Australian society is filled with perennial complaining and whinging, and in that, we often forget the tremendous blessings that we enjoy and the good that we can see and hold.

Many Australian have been praying for rain, both to put out a terrible season of bushfire and also to break the drought has gripped so much of the country. Has God answered those prayers?

Sometimes our words carry more truth in them than we realise. The angry mob who have bullied the ABC this afternoon will probably not thank God for the rain. They may well be grateful, but to whom?  Thankful for the meaningless weather patterns that have combined to create the splashes of water on our gardens and in our rivers? Without God, surely the weather is just nature’s mechanics at work without reason and meaning? The clouds did not form for our benefit, to help us in any way. There is no ethic or design; it’s just water. That’s all it is. The very notion of thankfulness for rain is an illusion, an evolutionary mistake in the human consciousness that causes us to pray and thank a God who does not exist.

Or maybe, as the Apostle Paul once told a crowd in the city of Iconium,

“In the past, God let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:16-17).

19 thoughts on “Rain, the ABC, and the heresy of mentioning prayer

  1. Culture dictated to by a minority of atheistic bullies who want only their way.
    What about the majority who are happy with the idea of being thankful to the Creator for the systems that provide all the needs for life?

    Do we now all have to write in to demand that the headlines be returned to reflect the sentiments of the majority?

    These bullies need to give it a break and let others read words that express their feelings and sentiments. The atheistic minority have it their way most of the time…… so they should not get triggered just because the ABC provide a rare moment of recognition for those who did pray.

    If the dry weather continued, the atheists would be blaming God, no doubt.

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    • What a great last line – “if the dry weather continued, the atheists would be blaming God, no doubt.” Hilarious! You do realize that atheists would be the last folks to “blame God,” since, to us, that entity DOESN’T EXIST!

      You believin’ prayer-warriors are good for so much unintentional comedy and reality-denying butthurt, which is so much fun to read.

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      • I fail to understand why it bothers you so much. I don’t give a rats if you believe or not, I do but I’m not constantly mocking you for your beliefs. Bully? Pretender? Or just plain rude and obnoxious? Go do smething useful with your life.

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      • You watch and see they do blame God in whom they deny exists for all manner of strife.
        They also use his sons name as a swear word all the time. They do believe in God they just do not want live by his rules and reject him. Because they are self centred and self serving nasty individuals, that have mummy and daddy issues and look at life through there rose coloured glasses.

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      • What? You have never heard Stephen Fry talk of the capricious, mean minded, stupid God he doesn’t believe in? Or of Ricky Gervais saying much the same? And you haven’t heard Richard Dawkins say “On the origin of the species with….. God, um…..” when being challenged for mocking Christians for their lack of knowledge but invoking God’s name when he can’t remember the full name of Darwin’s famous book. Or are you aware (according to a Muggeridge interview) of Svetlana Stalin saying her father clenched his fists towards the heavens before his death. I think the generalisation that atheists blame, curse and otherwise invoke God’s name while asserting there is no God is quite easily established.
        Anyway you are right to say that God doesn’t “exist” because when you use that word you are entering into states of being. To exist means to come into being, from non-being. God always was, so He has no beginning and always will be, therefore He has no end. That’s what eternal implies. So states of being, that is non-being, being and becoming are not relevant to Him, they are only relevant to His creation.
        I must say I am intrigued. Do you really identify as an atheist? Surely you understand that to assert that there is no God (the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, triune, spirit being who brought the time, space and matter that is the universe into being and maintains it by His laws) requires, for starters, an infinite knowledge of the universe. Rather an untenable position don’t you think? Now if I were to say there was no greenstone in New Zealand I’d have to have much more than a fleeting knowledge of that country’s geology, culture, gemstone trade etc. otherwise I’d be laughed to scorn when someone pointed out that the native peoples of that land had been manufacturing implements and ornaments from that material for generations.

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      • The ridicule that our favorite atheist comedians direct towards this ridiculous Stone Age “god” trope is a way of having fun at your believer expense, as is the habitual use of the nonsensical term to signify delay or frustration. Don’t worry, nobody with a working mind takes the term or the concept literally in any fashion.
        Humans have been trying to assert their connection to some fantastical overarching presence since our cave days, without single piece of evidence to show for it. Others have seen the light and given up on the nonsense – how about you? Why not stop wallowing about in unverifiable, undocumented, anti-rational god-bothering and direct your brain towards, I don’t know, cricket?

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      • You incoherent response shows that you are simply cutting and pasting from the misrepresentations of Christianity others have attempted to portray as reality. I suspect you are a child trying to enter into what you consider is serious debate. But I have corrected you on all of the points you have tried to make. Your answer is to continue to mock yet you have no grounds to do so. Atheism is illogical, it’s very premise is impossible to prove so being an atheist is untenable. It is the religion of the closed minded therefore the only arguments it can offer are straw man logical fallacies. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most verifiable fact of ancient history and you would do well in searching out that truth. That is if your current god will allow you.

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  2. Someone ought to tell the ABC to stop capitulating to twitter sentiment. Why does the ABC need to react in such an obsequious way to those apparently panicked by a journalistic turn of phrase? The ABC would do better by commissioning its journalists to interview Sir John Houghton about his autobiography, In the Eye of the Storm (Lion Hudson 2013). This book reveals how a praying Christian – who presumably sees his praying directed from Matthew 6: 9-13 – has been a prominent front runner in setting forth the agenda for the scientific analysis of climate patterns. He has confronted powerful commercial interests that persistently misrepresent the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For Houghton all scientific disciplines, climate science included, give us decisive data that remind us of our ongoing God-given stewardship responsibility for the future of our planet. And the ABC should be glad to publish such a story which gives hope to those working out their vocation on the land while suffering the effects of drought. Houghton tells how he became a founding member of the IPCC. He has been a leading expert in the scientific analysis of weather and climate. Formerly an Oxford professor of atmospheric physics before his appointment as the Chief Executive of the UK Meteorological Office, he was in the hot seat when the “Great Storm” of 1987 hit. From 1988 until 2002 he was chair or co-chair of the IPCC Science Working Group.

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  3. many’s the time I have heard an atheist mutter “Oh my god” – especially in times of personal crisis. and the vehemence of their reaction when I ‘call’ them on it 🙂 good times 🙂 😀

    the atheist credo:
    1 – there is no god
    2 – and I hate him

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  4. Why do we presume that those praying are only Christian? Those praying could also be Muslim, for example. Or is that okay to pray if you are Muslim but not if you are Christian?

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    • You watch and see they do blame God in whom they deny exists for all manner of strife.
      They also use his sons name as a swear word all the time. They do believe in God they just do not want live by his rules and reject him. Because they are self centred and self serving nasty individuals, that have mummy and daddy issues and look at life through there rose coloured glasses.

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  5. Thank you God for answering prayers. How sad to think so many do not believe. Do not believe in you, faith, answered prayers plus all other blessings. Bring on the day when the trumpets sound, the clouds open up and you come to rescue those of us who not only believe in you, but love you too. How sad to think far too many will be left behind, but that will be their choice. Bring on the new world without the scoffers and scorers. God bless those if us who do believe.
    ABC….. don’t let the minority bully you. You are in charge of your reporting, not the bullies.!

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  6. It’s a beautiful thing to say. “Our prayers have been answered”. Especially to have rain after the bushfires and soon the trees will be growing again.
    As for the ABC they should be defunded completely.

    Like

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