"Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for his blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty," Riley said. "This drought is without question a time of great difficulty."
As an atheist, I know a call for pray is futile. The question is, am I offended by Evan's words? The answer - not really.
We hear calls for intercessory prayer any time there is a disaster, kidnapping or a prolonged drought. It is part of the American fabric. When I hear a call for prayer, my mind decodes it as "hope for the best". I don't have any problem processing a call for prayer because I am not told to "pray in Jesus name", I am instead just asked to pray. Evan's call to prayer can be interpreted by Native American's as a call for a rain dance, by Muslims as a prayer to Allah, by Catholics as a prayer to Agricola of Avignon, or for Atheists to hope for the best.
James Evans writes:
But Riley did what other leaders have done during times of crisis. For example, folks forget that our observance of Thanksgiving was a result of the Civil War. Lincoln called for a national day of prayer and thanksgiving as the conflict drew to a close. After 9/11, President Bush also called the nation to prayer.
Calling on the public to pray during times of distress or peril is perfectly understandable. That is, so long as the leader calling for prayer recognizes not everyone prays in the same way.
Not everyone prays in the same way - some do not pray at all, and I am ok with that. I like to hope. It makes me feel good.