(Photo: Reuters/John Sommers II)
As close to three-fifths of the U.S. suffers from an historic drought, said to be the worst in over 50 years, an atheist group has taken issue with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's confession that he prays everyday for it to rain.
"It sends the wrong message to distraught farmers when the agriculture secretary suggests that the best response is to pray," said Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, according to USAToday.com.
"For a Cabinet official to recommend prayer as a solution or call attention to his own devotions may violate the Constitution's prohibition against establishment of religion," Flynn said. "Most important, though, is that prayer doesn't work. But if you want to test the power of prayer yourself, consider this. Apparently Secretary Vilsack's been praying for rain every day; how's that working out?"
The comments come a day after Vilsack expressed to reporters the gravity of the drought and said that he falls on his knees every day to ask God for help.
"I get on my knees every day," Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, said. "If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it."
This year has seen the worst drought since 1956, meteorologists have said. Farmers across the country have been witnessing their crops go to ruin – while consumers have been watching the food prices soar.
"Right now, there are a lot of farmers and ranchers who are struggling," Vilsack noted, while insisting that the Obama administration has been doing all it can to tackle the problem.
With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees in some places in the Midwest, drought conditions are expected to grow worse.
"We're seeing increasing areas of moderate to severe drought across Nebraska and Iowa, and nothing has improved in Illinois. In fact, things have gotten worse," remarked Sterling Smith, an analyst with Citigroup.
"The areas around the Nebraska-Iowa border in particular have been some of the better performing areas where we haven't seen as much damage. There is going to be, over the next eight days or so, intense heat and no rain so I think we'll see further crop losses coming from there," he added.