According to BuzzFeed
, the Council for Secular Humanism
, which bills itself as "North America's leading organization for non-religious people," has slammed the Obama administration for Vilsack's prayers for an end to the nationwide drought.
"I get on my knees every day," Vilsack told reporters
at the White House on Wednesday. "And I'm saying an extra prayer now. If I had a rain prayer or a rain dance I could do, I would do it," he added.
The majority of the country-- 61 percent-- is experiencing the worst drought in 25 years, and the dry conditions could persist
well into fall. As much as 80 percent of the nation's corn and soy bean crops have been affected, and livestock is also in danger.
Nearly 1,300 counties
in 29 states have been designated disaster areas.
"Our hearts go out to the producers, the farm families who are struggling through something that they obviously have no control over," Vilsack said after his meeting with President Obama.
It was the prayer part of his statement that irked many atheists, including Council for Secular Humanism executive director Tom Flynn.
"That's not just government entangling itself with religion, that's government publicly practicing it, and wallowing in superstition," Flynn said of Vilsack's rain prayer.
"It sends the wrong message to distraught farmers when the Agriculture Secretary suggests that the best response is to pray," he told BuzzFeed. "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. 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?"
Hours after Vilsack's White House prayer, severe thunderstorms and heavy rains inundated much of the northeast.