STOP IN THE NAME OF JESUS: Kentucky Governor To Launch Roaming Prayer Groups To Battle Urban Crime

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:

Gov. Matt Bevin said in a jam-packed meeting Thursday that his plan to confront Louisville’s growing violence is to have roaming prayer groups in the West End. Bevin urged faith leaders, public officials and residents to take a 10-block span, walk corner to corner, and pray with the community two to three times a week during the next year.

He said later Thursday that the walks are meant to be organic and won’t necessarily be led by his office. He didn’t specify a start date but suggested that local churches should get involved with the effort. “I’m going to ask you to walk that block, do it at the same time every single week,” Bevin said. “I’m going to ask you to stick with your block all year.”

Thirty minutes before the meeting, the West Louisville Ministers Coalition held a pre-press conference rebuking Bevin’s approach to solving the violence. The ministers suggested 10 ways for Bevin to curb the killings. “If you are serious about fixing violence in west Louisville, then you must have the courage to address its root causes of injustice and racism,” the Rev. Clay Calloway said.

Over at the Friendly Atheist, David McAfee ticks off some of the reasons why this is an astoundingly stupid idea. He writes:

It’s dangerous. While this isn’t a government-run program, Bevin presumably hopes to save taxpayer funds by proposing this no-cost solution to Louisville’s crime wave. But he’s actually putting his own constituents’ lives at risk by asking them to walk around at night in areas where the most homicides occur. That’s the sort of thing a police force would do… but that would cost money.

Prayer doesn’t help. It may make the community watchdogs feel better, but it isn’t the solution to rising murder rates. God’s Word doesn’t stop bullets. If Bevin’s goal is simply to make people feel like they are doing something, he might be making the right move, but he’s lying to himself if he thinks this will actually solve the problem. In fact, it might make things worse if everyone feels like this is a legitimate substitute for police officers.

This is like community “faith healing.” Kids die all the time because their parents think prayer is an acceptable replacement for medical treatment, and Kentucky’s governor wants to do something similar with the citizens of his state. People are suffering. They need help. But instead of letting professionals handle it, he’s hoping group prayer will do the trick.

It ignores the root problems. These communities aren’t struggling because of a lack of prayer. There’s poverty, homelessness, health care needs, systemic racism, and more. Those require serious investments, which Bevin doesn’t seem to want to make.

(Tipped by JMG reader Drew)