A couple of prayer requests for the President came across my desk a few weeks ago. At first I just deleted them because they came from my religious friends and I didn’t want to offend them even though they probably never considered that the people on their mailing list may be of different religions or no religion at all. It also sought “Prayer Warriors” to combat the forces of Satan.

To me prayer is the absolute least anyone could do because it is does nothing. It is no better than wishing. And, when it comes to practicality, it is the equivalent of being unarmed. Donating blood, feeding the homeless or even volunteering as a teacher are just a few things that  can be done that actually help as well as give personal satisfaction.

Nevertheless, the request for what are termed “Prayer Warriors” continues. What is a prayer warrior? Although there is no official definition, a prayer warrior is a person that offers their prayers to God in order to help combat evil forces in the world, most notably Satan. That may be an over simplification, but when dealing with the unseen impossibly unknown it is sufficient.

For me, that the number of Americans who disbelieve Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is nearly the same as the number of U.S. citizens that believe Satan is an actual entity is frightening and embarrassing. During a recent television program a Christian evangelist interpolated, interpreted, and extrapolated biblical parables to claim that an invisible holy war is taking place daily.

According to the evangelist, Satan is leading a multitude of demonical troops with plans to take over the world putting the souls of religious folks everywhere in danger. The idea that anyone would take such claims seriously would be laughable if not for the number of people that believe such pronouncements to be true. According to 2006 Barna Research, 55% of born-again Christians believed in the literal existence of Satan.[1] A 2007 Gallup poll, showed that seven in 10 Americans said they believe in “the Devil.”[2] Finally, a 2009 Harris poll revealed that less than 45% of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, while a whopping 60% said they believed in the devil.[3]

Belief in the existence of Satan presents logistical problems of Christianity’s own making. First, even if “spiritual warfare” is taking place at this moment, the idea that the forces of “good” and “evil” war at all, automatically places the opposing forces on equal footing; otherwise the war would be over with “good” overcoming evil, but the war continues. Second, seeing that the fight still rages certainly suggests that evil has a chance of winning; or, as stated before, the war would be done. Third and most important, why does an-all powerful God allow Satan to exist? Surely an omnipotent God could make a lesser opponent disappear. Or, is does Satan stand on equal footing making him a God in his own right?. If God cannot vanquish Satan, then he is not all powerful. If God is all-powerful and allows the continued existence of Satan, what does that imply about God’s care for his beloved humans?

It is past time for Americans to grow up. It is the 21st century, the world is not flat nor does the sun revolve around it. It should not be necessary to say, but there is no Satan and to believe there is ranks with the childishness of Halloween scares and haunted houses. Biblical literalists would have us believe that the evils of today's world are due to the rise of Satan and the fall of religious influence. There is probably more reason to fear these pious people than Satan as there doesn't seem to be much need for the devil today as he has plenty of folks doing the job for him. Asides from Harvey, there is little call for imaginary friends today and it is past time that we admit it.

[1] Poll finds more Americans believe in devil than Darwin, Reuters, November 29, 2007, http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/11/29/us-usa-religion-beliefs-i...

[2] Americans More Likely to Believe in God Than the Devil, Heaven More Than Hell, has increased since 2000, Frank Newport, Gallup News Service, June 13, 2007, http://www.gallup.com/poll/27877/Americans-More-Likely-Believe-God-...

[3]  What People Do and Do Not Believe in, The Harris Poll, December 15, 2009

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on December 20, 2012 at 5:59am
Bianka--To me it is the same as hiding from monsters under the bed or in the closet. I guess it is difficult to accept that people do all they do and for a variety of reasons. Yes, some are sick, but the majority aren't. Newt "Ignoramous" Gingrich came out and said the shootings were a result of God being taken out of school. As an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent being it means he was sleeping on the job. Those three reason are enough for a proactive God that operate before the fact. No operating in strange ways excuses.



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