Did Someone Say Pray? Bring on the Atheist Rebuttal!

Why do Big Media feel compelled to turn to atheists every time a Christian mentions the word “pray?”

The latest example of atheist “balance” came from Good Morning America first thing in the morning on November 13.  The story was supposedly about Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue calling on Georgians to pray for rain.  The state has been hard hit by a drought and the Governor, a Baptist, who has passed laws on water restriction, has asked the people of his state to come together to pray. 

Keep in mind Georgia is in the heart of the Bible Belt and praying is something people in that region just do.  It's not considered odd.

But bring Big Media into the picture – in this case the cameras of ABC – and all of a sudden the story becomes just another excuse to paint people of faith as…different.  Reporter Steve Osunsami pulled out all the stops to give the story the “faith is weird” treatment:

OSUNSAMI: (on location in Georgia): At one point there was a minuscule chance it could rain today, but they were never planning to cancel the service. What they were going to do was to move it inside. It's only hoping now that that's necessary.

PERDUE: We found ourselves challenged --

OSUMSAMI: Georgia governor Sonny Perdue has tried a number of ways to ease the crisis caused by this historic drought, from lawsuits to new laws. But the water is running out. And it just won't rain. His office says he'll have no trouble joining local ministers looking to the skies and begging the Almighty for relief.

ED BUCKNER (Atlanta Free Thought Society): We got a real problem. Let's try to do something real about it instead of grandstanding.

OSUNSAMI: Ed is an atheist who is not impressed. He and others plan to demonstrate at today's service.

ED BUCKNER: It's also an absurd, foolish thing to do and makes the state of Georgia and native Georgians like myself look dumb.

Note that the Governor, who the story is presumably about, gets three seconds of air time.  Buckner, the atheist, gets two sound bites and footage of him walking the streets, totaling almost 20 seconds:  six times as much air time as the person around whom the story is supposedly built.

But it was not enough to just give the atheist more time in this story.  No. To make the Governor of Georgia look completely foolish, Osunsami compares Perdue's efforts to the similar and unsuccessful efforts of the governor of Alabama, and then to tribesmen of Africa chanting, and then to  Native Americans beating drums… all of them asking – or praying – for rain.


OSUNSAMI: This summer, the governor of Alabama did something similar, asking residents to pray for rain for an entire week. It didn't rain then and it hasn't rained much since.

GOV.RILEY: One of the worst droughts in the history of both of our states.

OSUNSAMI: Since the dawn of time, people have prayed for rain, from the tribesmen of Africa -- to Native Americans.

But Osunsami wasn't quite done with Governor Perdue.  After ridiculing people of faith for resorting to prayer, he turned to science.  Note the bolded sentences.

OSUNSAMI: And where prayer fails, science sometimes pulls through. In China, they're using big guns to seed the clouds, controlling the weather, forcing the clouds to rain when the government orders, a useful tool for the Beijing Olympics. Here's how it's done. A flare is shot into the sky, filled with silver iodide, or dry ice, or a plane drops the chemicals into the cloud. At high elevations, they attract moisture and freeze and then melt on their way to the ground, producing rain. It actually works.

Osunsami concluded his story with a sound bite from a weather consultant who confirmed that cloud seeding is done in many countries.  Silly Governor Perdue.  He should probably just raise everyone's taxes so he can afford to seed clouds over his state.  Heck, it works in communist China!

There is no doubt that science can help – even solve – many problems.  But if Osunsami wanted to do a story on cloud seeding, he should have just done a story on cloud seeding.  Instead he structured his story to mock a man of faith and promote the views of an atheist. That's a story seeded with bias.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.