Claim: C of E claims 4 out of 5 in the UK believe in prayer … er, no that is a complete lie.

Prayer_motivationalThe claim is presented to us today in the UK version of the HuffPo

Four out of five British adults believe in the power of prayer, according to a new survey in the run-up to Easter.

While some said they would pray for world peace, others had more everyday concerns – turning to God for relationship troubles or stressful jobs.

Women were more likely to pray than men, with 85% citing something they would pray for, according to the ICM poll commissioned by the Church of England.

One tiny ever so subtle flaw here … it is complete bollocks.

The problem is that nobody was asked if they believed in prayer at all, instead what they were actually asked within the ICM survey was …

Irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, What would it be for?

In response to that question 1 out of 5 either specified nothing, or did not know (you can check that here). So the CofE takes this data and applies a considerable degree of spin, or to be more blunt, they manufactured a completely fraudulent claim.

To ensure you get it, try this … suppose someone from the Church of England asked you, “What would you like Santa to bring you this Christmas?” and you replied “a new car,“, then we can, using the above example, conclude that the CoE would not only assume that you believe in Santa, but that Santa actually brings people new cars.

As for the claim that prayer works, Martin Robbins puts it like this

if it were really true that four in five people believed in the power of prayer, then I’d nail myself to a cross now and be done with it. It’s not the stupidity that bothers me so much as the self-entitled arrogance required to believe that there’s an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent deity who looks like you and will do whatever you ask him to do, like some sort of celestial concierge service.

31% of respondents said they would pray for peace in the world. Given the noticeable absence of world peace, there are only a few ways this plays out. Either nobody has got around to praying yet, in which case people are callous bastards; or God has ignored them all, in which case God is a callous bastard; or prayer doesn’t work, in which case the Christian movement is the equivalent of a town full of people still trying to call the number of their local Papa John’s 2,000 years after it closed down and the phone was disconnected, speaking at the error tone even though nobody has picked up, then spotting a pizza in the supermarket two days later and insisting that it must have arrived by the grace of Papa John’s.

Does any of this really matter, what possible harm could it do? The core issue is that when some turn to a supernatural entity for help, they turn their back on the help they really need. Some people stop taking real medicine as a result. Pastors in London have been persuading vulnerable people with HIV to stop taking their anti-retroviral drugs; and an investigation by Sky News found churches in major cities across Britain claiming to cure HIV through prayer, with medical staff telling reporters of at least six cases where people had died as a result.

They can carry on promoting this stuff if they wish and create the illusion of doing something that does in fact do nothing at all, but they will not do so without facing criticism, because real harm can indeed result. As for manufacturing fictious claims, that’s all a tad hypocritical when you consider that it comes from those that also claim to operate as a moral authority.

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