One of the image problems religion has is that a lot of its biggest fans have a rather juvenile conception of God as a capricious and cruel being who needs to be begged to stop being so mean to us -- but can be persuaded to do so if we ask in the right way. After all, if we're praying to God to stop the oil spill, doesn't that mean God caused the oil spill in the first place? Or at least if he wanted to stop it, why didn't he do it right away, instead of befouling so much of his creation and ruining the livelihoods of so many people? And if this is all His Plan, who are we to ask him to change His Plan in the middle of things? Is he going to say, "It was my divine plan for this spill to continue for another month, but since you prayed ... oh, all right."
These are questions one would hope a child would begin to ask in Sunday school. But throwing up our hands because "man's efforts have been futile," then asking God to step in and solve our problems is probably not the best approach for government to take. Am I crazy to think that no matter how conservative you are, and no matter how religious you are, you might still agree with that?
-- Paul Waldman