I have often wondered, while watching sports movies, particularly the ritual prayer scene before the big game, as to who is god rooting for? I mean, surely the other team is invoking god as well? So how does god decide? And if one team wins does that mean their god is stronger or their faith more deeply held?

I was reminded of all this by reading online that a pastor at a recent McCain rally said the following (see this for a report AND an mp3 version)

I also would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god–whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah–that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.

This just seems silly and mis-conceived at multiple levels.

Well, first of all there are those of use who are not praying – ‘cos they don’t pray – but still hoping for a Obama victory (which I guess means a McCain loss). I have not hidden my opinions about this election and my preference for how I would like this election to end-up, but I don’t pray for it. I wish this person had mentioned that some non-believers are also hoping for McCain’s loss. I am also sure that some non-believers are hoping that he win, as well. The point being that I am bit miffed that, once again, people of no belief have been ignored! Darn it :-)

Second, the pastor makes a huge category mistake — lumping together a religion with the gods of other religions. Buddha is a god (at least for some Buddhists) and Allah is a god, but Hindu is surely NOT a god. A Hindu is a follower of Hinduism. As it turns out a Hindu can believe in everything, from the statement that there is no god to the mind-boggling idea that there are 320 million gods! (In that sense I understand the dear pastor not wanting to list all of them). But his category mistake needs to be pointed out.

Third, and more importantly, I think the pastor makes a huge mistake by asking his god to “guard” his reputation because a McCain loss would mean that “they” (always beware of “them”) are going to make the assumption that “their God is bigger than you.” Now what if McCain does actually lose.. what is this poor pastor to do? Does the Dalai Lama issue a statement that Buddha now rules!

Fourth, and just in case someone thinks that I am blaming just the McCain camp, though I do have differences with some recent events in their campaign, I must point out my similar reactions to the Obama rally I recently visited. Obama’s speech was preceded by a speech by a pastor (whose name I did not record) who made a similar religious argument about how god supports change. I wish I hadn’t been there to listen to that drivel.

Like I said, I wonder who god is rooting for?