“Pray the Plague Away” is not the answer

Hannah Teifke, Memorial Staff Writer

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt made an announcement to declare Dec. 3 as a statewide day of prayer and fasting to pray for Oklahomans affected by COVID-19. Stitt made this decision based on the popular aspect of Oklahomans turning to prayer in times of crisis, but is praying really the answer to curbing the spread of the virus? 

As of right now, Oklahoma has reported over 240,000 cumulative cases, gaining anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 new cases each day. 

In the past several months, Oklahoma County alone has had more than 41,000 cases, and these numbers have spiked significantly after Thanksgiving, due to over 50 million Americans having traveled out of town during the holiday. 

Stitt is a member of the Republican party with experience in business, rather than politics, who is, as he says, driven by faith and family. As a governor, he aims to serve his people, yet certain events lead some to believe that he is using his position to promote his religious beliefs, and that he is not upholding the constitutional separation between the church and the state. For instance, he has set up events in the past in which he would speak to groups, regardless of religious background, about the importance of serving God, which is not related to the matter of a deadly pandemic. 

The governor’s proposal of a statewide day of prayer has elicited many mixed responses from Oklahomans. Some citizens have happily made plans to pray for those impacted by COVID-19, while others are questioning the decision. 

According to Tulsa World, the Freedom for Religion Foundation (FRF) had sent a letter to the governor, asking that Stitt would reconsider his decision. The letter informs him that, “using the power of his office to ask citizens to pray and fast is a misuse of his civil and secular authority,” and that instead, he could be utilizing his platform to emphasize the importance of taking necessary precautions, wearing masks and engaging in social distancing. 

Although Stitt mentioned how citizens should wash their hands and practice social distancing, the FRF reports that he has failed to actually issue mandates on these crucial safety measures. 

As someone who was raised as a Catholic, I can definitely say that it is great to believe in prayer and to have faith in the world around us, but simply praying without actual safety precautions in place will not provide much help to curb the spread of Covid going forward. 

The governor may be trying to have Oklahomans’ interests in mind, but designating days to pray will not make the virus dissipate any faster. 

 

Contact Hannah Teifke at [email protected]