It never hurts to have people praying for you, but Lawrence residents may be a little offended to learn they were included in a recent call for prayers for the “dark spiritual areas” of Kansas.
The request came from a group called the Capitol Commission, a Christian group that targets its communications to state legislators, staff members and lobbyists. The group is based in Raleigh, N.C., and has ministries in 21 states, including Missouri and Kansas. A Feb. 7 missive advised Kansas lawmakers, “Target prayer for dark spiritual areas of SE Kansas, Lawrence, KCKS, North Johnson County — ask God to restore the land.”
We didn’t know we were part of a “dark spiritual area.” We certainly could offer significant evidence to the contrary, given Lawrence’s many active faith communities and caring social service agencies, not to mention the charitable efforts of many individual residents.
It didn’t take long for some observers to note that the areas specified in the request represented the parts of the state that most often support Democratic candidates in presidential and legislative elections. It didn’t seem like a coincidence, but Dave Depue, the Capitol Commission’s Kansas director, assures us it was. He said no politics was involved and the group was just hoping collective prayer could help areas that aren’t prospering. “We’re just praying for the economy,” he said.
Really? If you were picking out the most economically troubled areas in Kansas, would you focus on Lawrence or any part of Johnson County? And, as Rep. Kathy Wolf Moore, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat noted, Depue must not have been to Wyandotte County lately and seen the huge developments around the Kansas Speedway and the Legends.
Depue acknowledged that the prayer request might have been “unfortunate wording on my part” and said he meant no offense. Maybe so, but it’s hard to explain his choice of prayer subjects as anything but a political statement.
We certainly welcome anyone’s prayers of support for our community — we may even offer a few of our own — but it’s unfortunate when spiritual leaders choose to use prayer to make a political point.