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Did Rick Perry's prayers end the Texas drought?
Glenn Beck recently went on record saying he thinks former Texas Gov. Rick Perry deserves a little credit for ending the Texas drought. - photo by JJ Feinauer
Glenn Beck recently went on record saying he thinks former Texas Gov. Rick Perry deserves a little credit for ending the Texas drought.

According to Beck, when Perry declared April 24, 2011, to be "Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas" in order to combat one of the worst droughts in the state's history, the then-governor jump-started a retreat from the dry spell that culminated in record flooding this year.

"He was mocked for it, and he went ahead and did it, and that was the beginning of the end of the drought," Beck said last week while discussing Perry's newly launched presidential campaign. "I mean, we started having rain right after that. And this state was a desert."

Pundits and bloggers on the left were quick to comment on Beck's declaration, particularly because most accounts of the drought do not indicate that it let up after the statewide prayer was announced.

The New York Times' Timothy Egan even wrote about the disappointing results of Perry's invocation a few months after the day of prayer, lamenting that "Alas, a rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the hottest month in recorded Texas history."

At the time, Egan argued that Perry's handling of the drought says a lot about "how he would govern if he became president," stoking fears that he would shirk responsibility in favor of putting problems "in the hands of God."

But with the recent downpour in Texas, Beck seems to be arguing that prayer clearly has an important place in public life. It's important to note that Beck's argument seems to be that a prayer and fast meeting held just a few weeks ago is actually what caused the rain to come, not necessarily Perry's attempts as governor (at least not entirely). In other words, it's the thought that counts.

As I've written previously, prayer has a fascinating and complicated place in public life. In times of stress and uncertainty, politicians tend to rely at least on the language of faith to calm and comfort their constituents. There's a long history that spans much further than just Rick Perry that proves calling for prayer to resolve a national (or statewide) catastrophe isn't exactly unheard of.

Furthermore, Americans are quite fond of prayer. According to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans pray daily, and a Gallup poll from 2010 found that 83 percent of Americans believe that God does indeed answer prayers.

So whether or not prayer is what ended the Texas drought is likely beside the point. The point is, as The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote in 2011, that as a politician, Perry is "religious in a way not seen before in modern-day mainstream presidential candidates." He speaks the language of the faithful, and it's an integral part of who he is as a politician.

And Perry isn't alone. He's now joined by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (who first ran in 2008), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum. All of whom wish to convey that they are spiritually in tune with the God of Christendom, a faith that 77 percent of Americans profess.
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