Oklahoma governor forced to make ‘Oilfield Prayer Day’ all-faith

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. © Carlo Allegri
Oklahoma’s governor is gearing up for ‘Oilfield Prayer Day’ on Thursday, amid a decline in the oil and gas industry. The leader has widened the call to include people of “all faiths,” following outrage that initially the event was only open to Christians.

In a proclamation issued last month, two-term Republican Governor Mary Fallin invited Christians to pray for the industry on October 13.

“Christians are invited to thank God for the blessings” created by the industry and to “seek His wisdom and ask for protection,” the proclamation states. It also indicates that Christians believe oil and natural gas are “created by God.”

This year’s call for Oilfield Prayer Day is being sponsored by the Oilfield Christian Fellowship, which holds prayer meetings and publishes a newsletter for Christian employees in the industry.

Calls to pray for the oil industry have been made each year since Fallin took office in 2011, but last year they were changed to address Christians only.

Pressure from local journalists, officials and religious figures has forced Fallin to backtrack on the Christian-only call.

“There was some question about whether it was one particular faith or another, so we just amended it to say all faiths,” Fallin said on Monday, as quoted by AP. “There are many people suffering right now who have lost their jobs in the energy sector… there are a lot of families who have been hurt, and I think prayer is always a good thing, for anyone.”

Still, many are upset that Oilfield Prayer Day is taking place at all, with some taking to social media to call it unconstitutional, given the separation of church and state.

Others implied that the state’s leader should be concerning herself with more important matters.

The Thursday event comes after thousands of Oklahomans lost their jobs in the sector – despite the $400 million tax breaks the state has given to oil companies.

Oklahoma ranks fifth among American states in oil production, and third in natural gas, a recent study by The State Chamber, an association of state businesses and industries, shows. Around 27 percent of Oklahoma’s total household earnings come from the energy sector.