Sometime around the middle of August, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family released a video urging Christians to pray for rain. Not rain to end the drought in the Southeast and other places, but rain to drown out a political message. The video encouraged Christians to pray for rain during Barak Obama’s acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver on the last night of the Democratic National Convention.
The video was produced by Stuart Shepard, a communications expert for Focus, who elaborated on the call for God to use weather to interfere with the Democrats. “We want abundant rain, torrential rain–flood advisory rain. I’m talking about umbrella-ain’t-gonna-help-you rain.”
Why would Shepard and others at Focus want God to rain on Obama’s speech? The answer is simple. Focus on the Family, and others on the Religious Right, oppose Obama’s stand on civil unions for homosexuals and his position on abortion. The presence of a torrential rain at the very moment of Sen. Obama’s acceptance speech would have been seen as corresponding divine disapproval.
Interestingly, almost as soon as the video began to run, Focus on the Family pulled the video. A spokesperson for the ministry claimed they were afraid someone would take them seriously. As it turns out, someone did.
Even as Focus was dropping the call for rain, California pastor Wiley Drake picked up the idea. Using his church’s radio ministry, Pastor Drake began urging Christians everywhere to call on God to shut down the Democratic Convention with rain. He said, “Prayer warriors are welcome to pray for rain but for repentance in America as well.”
Can you imagine the howl of righteous vindication that would have erupted from every corner of this country had rain fallen on Denver during the big speech.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Gustav slammed into the Gulf Coast this week. With the embarrassment of Katrina still visible in many places, government officials wasted no time mobilizing resources to address the impact of the storm.
And since many of those people were in St. Paul, Minn., for the Republican National Convention, John McCain quickly made the decision to cancel the first night of the convention so elected officials could be in place if and when they were needed.
Even though Gustav did not greatly affect the remainder of the convention, we must pause to reflect on weather, politics and religion. It is ironic that praying for God to rain out the DNC didn’t seem to work, however, weather did disrupt the Republican convention. Although in the interest of full disclosure I am not aware of any organized effort to pray for rain on the RNC.
And if we are to believe that God uses weather to smite sinners, well, what’s going on among Republicans that has God so unhappy?
At the end of the day, all of this was a waste of good prayer time. God is not going to respond to partisan prayers and send a storm to vindicate our politics. How arrogant are we to even think such a thing.
Of course, if we follow Jesus on this matter, we’ve got our weather theology upside down anyway. Jesus said God is so caring and loving that rain falls on the just and the unjust–rain is a blessing, not a curse.
If it happens to rain out our party, we were probably just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.
James L. Evans is a retired Baptist preacher living in Alabama. Over 35 years, he served churches in Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia. In support of his pastoral work, Evans published 5 books including “First and Second Corinthians: Immersion Bible Studies” (Abingdon Press (2011).