Oklahoma governor to revise ‘Oilfield Prayer Day’ decree

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A proclamation by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin inviting Christians to pray for the oil and natural gas industry will be amended to be more inclusive of other faiths, the governor said Monday.

The two-term Republican said the proclamation declaring Thursday “Oilfield Prayer Day” will be revised to invite people of all faiths to pray for the industry, which has seen a recent decline.

“There was some question about whether it was one particular faith or another, so we just amended it to say all faiths,” Fallin said. “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.”

Fallin has issued similar proclamations since she took office in 2011, but beginning last year the proclamation was changed to apply only to Christians. It was requested on behalf of a group called the Oilfield Christian Fellowship.

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

A recent study by The State Chamber, an association of Oklahoma businesses and industries, shows the state ranks fifth among states in oil and third in natural gas production and that about 27 percent of total state household earnings in the state are supported by the energy sector.

Despite the industry’s impact on Oklahoma’s economy, not everyone was pleased with Fallin’s proclamation. Bruce Prescott, a retired Norman minister who successfully sued to have a Ten Commandments monument removed from the Capitol grounds, said it’s not the governor’s responsibility to call anyone to prayer.

“That’s a minister’s responsibility,” Prescott said. “Another thing that’s an irritant on that one — there are a lot of things that could be prayed about in this state, and the oil field is not at the top of that list.”