With a severe drought devastating the state, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has called on all the state's citizens to unite in prayer for rain.
Last Thursday, he proclaimed the dates from June 30 to July 7 as "Days of Prayer for Rain," and feels that the response will make a significant positive impact for the area.
"Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty," explained Riley in a statement. "This drought is without question a time of great difficulty for our farmers and for communities across our state."
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a majority of north Alabama is experiencing "exceptional drought," the worst dry classification. Much of central and southeast Alabama has been labeled as the next worst case, "extreme drought."
Southwest Alabama has the third ranking of "severe drought" while the coast has been the least effected but is still classified as a "moderate drought."
Alabama now has the most area affected by an "exceptional drought" around the nation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. A burn ban restricting all outdoor flames is now under effect which will also impact fireworks during the Fourth of July celebration.
Though Riley's call for prayer may come as a surprise to some, the Alabama governor is not the only governor in the past who has called for a divine intervention with rain. Fellow Alabamians George C. Wallace and Guy Hunt joined the list in the late 80s, and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds have been asking citizens this summer for help in prayer.
While many have applauded Riley's efforts, some people have objected to the recent declaration based on separation needs.
"[Prayer] is just a waste of time," said Anne Gaylor, former president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis., according to the Associated Press. "A governor should have respect for the separation of church and state."
In his proclamation, Riley cited four reasons to delve into prayer. He mentions that the livelihood and quality of life is decreasing for local citizens; the state's largest industry is agriculture and is dependent on rain; low stream flows and lake levels have influenced recreation use, navigation, and power generation; and Alabamians have turned to God in times of need in the past and should do so again.
"NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama, do hereby encourage citizens of Alabama to pray daily for rain and proclaim June 30 – July 7, 2007 as Days of Prayer for Rain," reads the proclamation. "During this time, I encourage all Alabamians to pray individually and within their houses of worship for sufficient rain."
The final day of the prayer will also end on 7/7/07 - a significant day for many Christians around the nation.