No Governor Northam, It Does Matter Who We Pray To

No Governor Northam, It Does Matter Who We Pray To by Michael L. Brown for Ask Dr Brown

I understand what Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia was trying to say. After all, he is the governor of all Virginians and cannot cater to one faith group above another. But his tweet could easily be misunderstood, and it does call for a response.

On Monday night Gov. Northam tweeted, “Tonight, I held a call with faith leaders across Virginia. I’m grateful for their leadership in bringing people together spiritually, while remaining physically apart.

“This virus does not care who we pray to or how we worship––we must all work together in fighting against it.”

Mr. Governor, with all respect, it certainly does matter who we pray to. (I beg forgiveness of grammatically sensitive readers who will be distracted by the sentence-ending preposition. Please overlook this fault.)

Again, I understand what Gov. Northam was saying and doing. And I appreciate him reaching out to a wide coalition of faith leaders which would have included Christians, Jews, Muslims and others.

This is in harmony with the words of President Trump’s National Day of Prayer Proclamation, which said, “In our times of greatest need, Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty.  As we continue to face the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans are unable to gather in their churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship.”

So, yes, I agree that these faith leaders have a responsibility to their respective communities. And I agree that they should be encouraged in serving those communities during the present crisis.

I also agree that “we must all work together in fighting against” COVID-19, regardless of our particular religious beliefs or practices.

And, while the wording is odd, I understand the governor’s point about the virus: “it” doesn’t care whether we are Muslims who worship Allah, Hindus who worship Krishna, or atheists who do not worship a creator. It infects and kills indiscriminately.

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