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“Dear God, Please Bless Mr. Bush...”


How 2.8 million Americans may be influencing U.S.
politics through prayer.
by Maura R. O'Connor
 

If some of you are still trying to figure out how George Bush, Jr., won the election in 2004, there may have been a force at work that the political pundits didn't take notice of and the polls couldn't measure—prayer. It turns out that no less than 2.8 million Americans were praying for George Bush in November '04—all of them organized by a nonprofit called the Presidential Prayer Team. PPT's website, presidentialprayerteam.com, was launched on September 18, 2001, when founder Bill Hunter realized that President Bush and his cabinet members badly needed moral and spiritual support at the onset of the “war on terrorism.” In just two months, according to PPT, it became the world's number one religious website, and within six hundred days, it had solicited one percent of the American population to pray on a weekly basis for the President.

PPT believes that the prayers of its members open “a window for God to work in our country as never before” and are therefore capable of radically altering the future of the United States. They claim to be cross-denominational, with no affiliation to any political or religious organizations, and insist they will “never be used for political purposes.” Nevertheless, the organization is quite obviously informed by the values and beliefs of what is commonly referred to as the Christian Right. The president and CEO of PPT, John Lind, previously worked with Youth for Christ and the Promise Keepers; the Presidential Prayer Team's Statement of Faith begins, “We believe in the Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.” As for their claims to be nonpolitical, let's just say that after browsing the website, it's a little difficult to believe that PPT's fervent enthusiasm would have persisted had John Kerry carried Ohio.

Every week, the website posts a prayer for President Bush, the First Lady, and a selected cabinet member or congressional leader. During the week of June 6–13, for example, members were asked to, “Pray for the President as he meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on June 7, asking God to guide both men with wisdom and grace as they discuss a variety of concerns including Africa, climate change in preparation for the G-8 summit in July, and concerns about Iraq and the Middle East peace process.”

Whether or not the PPT is aiding in the well-being or successful presidency (which is a rather subjective issue) of George Bush cannot be easily determined because previous attempts to validate the powers of prayer through scientific methods have often been contentious. Many researchers and scientists argue that there are simply too many unknown variables to accurately test the efficacy of prayer. However, polls show that the majority of Americans believe that prayer works in myriad ways, such as relieving physical pain and curing disease, and can even result in miracles. And if irrefutable proof were found that prayer works, there is no doubt that it would be one of the most significant discoveries in history—proof for the first time of the supernatural.

PPT has no intention of waiting around for science, however. They've already launched multiple new projects, including “PPT for Kids” (“President and Mrs. Bush are going to their ranch for the weekend, so it's a great time to pray that God will protect them and give them terrific times of refreshment and encouragement while they are there”), and an initiative called “Adopt Our Troops,” where members receive the name of a soldier in the U.S. military to pray for each day. As of this writing, 545,000 “adopters” are praying for over 160,000 troops. Indeed, the future of the Presidential Prayer Team is, as they themselves say, “bright and exciting. As the cutting-edge leader in stimulating national prayer for our elected officials, and with the ever-growing marvels and capabilities of the Internet, there is no limit to what we can envision for the years to come.” Indeed, if PPT's numbers continue to grow, 2008 could be a very interesting election—especially when you consider that in 2004, Bush's margin of victory was right around three million votes.



 

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December 2005–February 2006