Mississippi Mayor Assures Disgruntled Residents He Believes He Can ‘Pray Potholes Away’

When the Founding Fathers stressed the importance of the separation of Church and State, they probably assumed “basic infrastructure” would fall on the “state” side of things. In Mississippi, however, one mayor is placing his city’s roadways in the hands of god, while he shrugs his shoulders.

Residents should have known something was up when their mayor, Tony Yarber, tweeted out this message a few days ago:

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And by “ALL” he means literally everything. As in, even the task of fixing potholes using conventional methods like asphalt and construction crews. In a follow up tweet, Yarber claims that prayer has the power to fix potholes, just like Moses parted the Red Sea. (And yes, admittedly, his analogy doesn’t really work.)

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When several of his residents, presumably concerned about the roads they were driving on, asked him if he was serious, Yarber stressed that he was.

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So he “tried” paying to have the roads fixed, but lacking money, the alternative was praying. So far there have been no reports of immaculate construction in the area. The potholes remain unfilled.

Yarber has not had a great time in his first term as Jackson’s mayor. Like much of Mississippi, the city of Jackson has struggled to find its footing after the economic recession. Facing massive budget shortfalls, Yarber has called on the city council to enact more taxes in order to help provide for basic services (this is probably what he meant when he said he “tried that.”), but it’s fallen on deaf ears. In this light, it’s possible that Yarber’s appeal to prayer is slightly more cynical than he lets on. It certainly means a lot of awareness for the city’s decaying infrastructure. So far, however, Yarber insists he is dead serious.

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He’s also not the first politician to shirk his responsibilities in favor of letting god sort it out (or not). In West Virginia, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said he “tried” to stop drug abuse with conventional means, but it was too difficult. Instead, he appealed to faith leaders in the area to fire the “silver bullet” at addiction: A well-organized mutli-church prayer session. We’ve also previously reported the story of an Indiana sheriff who argued the only way to stop homicides is to allow prayer in school.

“You take God and prayer out of schools and you take discipline away from parents and teachers and you want the Sheriff to solve it? No.”

Well, yes… that’s exactly the kind of thing a sheriff should do, just as fixing potholes without heavenly help should be a goal for the mayor of a town.

When it comes to the challenges – big and small – that face communities in the country, it’s not enough for community leaders to throw up their hands and say it’s up to God. Regardless of one’s religious predilections, the idea that simply standing idly by while waiting for a miracle is woefully irresponsible. Even within the religious community there seems to be an assumption that whether or not God exists, it’s important for people to do all that they can on their own. By all accounts, Mayor Tony Yarber is a deeply religious man. He should be well aware of the expression, “God helps those who help themselves.” Helping the community that elected him might be nice, too.

Feature image via Wikipedia