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Sonny's prayer wasn't violation of Constitution

Lord they are all over Sonny now.

I am talking about the crazies, the lunatic fringe that are convinced that when you take an oath of office as a government official you must abandon all personal beliefs - and common sense - until your term of office is over.

In case you missed it, although I don't know how you could have, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue - who, by the way, has been fighting mightily on our behalf against the governors of Alabama and Florida in a tag-team barbed wire deathmatch over our state's water supply, decided to ask for divine intervention in ending the current drought. He held a prayer meeting on the steps of the capitol and urged all Georgians to ask the Almighty to send us a little rain. Or a lot of rain. Something.

It's kind of ironic, actually, that the man from Bonair would be on the capitol steps praying for rain because, after all, he did promise us lots and lots on "Sonny" days if elected governor. It looks like that's one campaign promise that was kept.

I, for one, approve of the governor's efforts. It couldn't hurt and who knows? Maybe if enough of us ask often enough, the Lord will have mercy on our dry lawns and rapidly disappearing lakes and streams. Shoot, I've been urging people to pray for rain for weeks now, and Perdue was very open about his efforts. He said, among other things, "God can make it rain tomorrow" and "We come here reverently and respectfully to pray up a storm."

What's wrong with that? Nobody had to come. Nobody had to listen. Nobody had to pray. It was an invitation - not a command. And it was an invitation to people of all faiths - as well as to people of none.

Gil Watson was there, and he is one of my favorite preachers - and story tellers - of all time. Gil chastised the crowd because they didn't bring umbrellas with them. Sort of a "Ye of little faith" moment, I suppose. Gil came as himself, by the way, but maybe next time he will appear as Joel Chandler Harris, which he frequently does, and tell the Uncle Remus story about the deluge.

And the governor invited Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Gentiles, Hindus and Muslims and anybody else who might have an inside track to show up and have a go at calling down much needed water from the heavens.

It reminded me of the scene in the great World War II movie, Patton. You might remember it. The Allied Forces needed to move a great distance to attack the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge, but were snowed in. Patton commanded his company chaplain to write a prayer for good weather. The chaplain balked but Patton made him do it and told him, "If you write a good prayer, we'll get good weather."

He did and they did and the rest, as they say, is history.

Asking for common prayer has been done before, many times before, on a state and national level. It is nothing new, but Sonny caught a lot of flak from some attention-seekers who beat their chests - as soon as the reporters and cameras arrived, of course - and scream "separation of church and state."

A group called the Atlanta Freethought Society showed up to protest. Their turnout was as pathetic as their cause, however. According to published reports, there were 22 of them and they carried signs reading "Religious Freedom for All," "No Tax Dollars for Religion" and "Pray on the Church Steps, not the Capitol Steps."

According to their Web site, their purpose is to "educate the public on the benefits and realities of living life without religion" and to "defend the complete separation of church and state."

Lord, with an agenda like that, some of us need to start praying for the freethinkers. I bet that would really tick them off. They claim that Tuesday's prayer service was a violation of the Constitution's guarantee of separation of church and state. They should have had better history teachers when they were in school.

The Constitution says that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That's it, y'all.

I don't think that in acknowledging that there is a God who has it in his power to send rain and asking him to do so is making a law establishing a religion. The first amendment was not intended to negate the acknowledgement of the Almighty - it was to protect the people from government intrusion. Sonny didn't intrude, he offered. There's a big difference.

And when the rains come and the drought ends, the freethinkers will be washing their cars and watering their lawns just like the rest of us, because God brings rain on the just and the unjust. It says so in the Bible - which the governor did not read from, by the way.

Anyway, the prayer vigil has come and gone and the protestors have had their say and when I went outside to get the paper Wednesday there were a few scattered clouds around, so who knows?

But from now on, I'm listening to Gil Watson. I am going to keep praying for rain - and I'm going to carry my umbrella everywhere I go.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.