(RNS) Question: Where would Jesus drill?
Answer: Apparently in Oklahoma, where Republican Gov. Mary Fallin has declared Thursday (Oct. 13) “Oilfield Prayer Day.”
“Whereas Christians are invited to thank God for the blessing created by the oil and natural gas industry and to seek His wisdom and ask for protection; now, therefore, I, Mary Fallin, Governor, do hereby proclaim October 13, 2016, as ‘Oilfield Prayer Day’ in the state of Oklahoma,” the original proclamation stated.
That version, issued last week, was intended as a boon to the state’s oil industry, which has suffered multiple downturns recently.
Instead it ended up dividing people along religious and secular lines for its Christian-specific language.
Many people pointed out that not all Oklahomans are Christians, while others took issue with an elected official calling for prayer.
“That’s a minister’s responsibility,” Bruce Prescott told The Associated Press. “Another thing that’s an irritant on that one — there are a lot of things that could be prayed about in this state, and the oil field is not at the top of that list.”
Fallin rephrased the proclamation on Monday, removing the word “Christian” and inserting “people of all faiths.”
“There was some question about whether it was one particular faith or another, so we just amended it to say all faiths,” Fallin told AP. “There are many people suffering right now who have lost their jobs in the energy sector … there are a lot of families who have been hurt, and I think prayer is always a good thing, for anyone.”
But the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the governor protesting the entire proclamation, saying it was a violation of the separation of church and state and the edited version still excluded people of no faith.
“Gov. Fallin, we live in a pluralistic nation,” the letter states.
“Oilfield Prayer Day” was promoted by a group called the Oilfield Christian Fellowship.