Also known by the longer title: "A Prayer to Afflict the Comfortable with as Many Afflictions as Possible." From Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men (published in 2001 by ReganBooks/HarperCollins, ISBN: 0-06-039245-2).

In Chapter 11 (entitled "The People's Prayer"), Moore points out that broad social change, when it comes to scientific discovery (or, specifically, the federal funding of said scientific discoveries), often comes only at the expense of someone in power. For example: George W. Bush and the Republican Party had consistently claimed that a fetus was an unborn human being and that, therefore, scientific studies involving stem cell research were immoral and unethical. Republicans stuck to this claim until a high-visibility politician from within their own ranks (Ronald Regan) came down with Alzheimer's, a disease that many believe could be eventually eliminated by stem cell research.

As all of this was happening, Congress and the White House were publicly planning to ban the federal funding of all stem cell research, due to the aforementioned perceived moral and ethical problems. According to Moore, however, Nancy Reagan (whose political views regarding fetal tissue research had evolved since her husband was diagnosed) pleaded with Dubya to keep funding the research that might one day save the life of her husband (or the millions like him).

While nobody knows for sure what was going through the President's mind, he and several other ranking Republicans soon had a change of heart (read: dramatic 180 degree turnaround) on the issue. Long-time pro-lifers such as Tommy Thompson and Connie Mack began coming out for stem cell research, claiming that it did not result in the "taking of a human life." As a result, the federal government backed off from its plans to ban all stem cell research and instead opted to limit the research to "existing cell lines," a decision that greatly angered pro-life advocates.

So, long story short, everyone was gung-ho about banning a new technology with (what was argued to be) the potential to save millions of lives until someone in power actually needed that technology, after which it suddenly became okay. Says Moore:

In that one moment, the entire playing field shifted. The call from the front office had been made: SCREW THE UNBORN! SAVE THE GIPPER! ... Word came from the White House that now there was nothing wrong with "certain" stem cell research. Bush went on TV and would not say that a human embryo was a "human being." After decades of [arguing] that "human life begins at conception," we were now being told by the same individuals...that these "unborn babies" were actually nothing more than some dead embryonic tissue--which might just keep some sick rich people alive a few more years!

Moore gives two more examples of this so-called "when it hits home, it's very hard to keep acting like an asshole" policy. He points to Dick Cheney, who stopped most of his anti-gay rhretoric when his daughter came out of the closet a few years ago. And to former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who had opposed the city paying for health care for uninsured children but made a dramatic about-face when he came down with cancer himself. Said Giuliani: "I have to admit...once I got cancer, I began to see a lot of things in a new light."

From this, Moore argues "the only hope we have in this country to bring aid to the sick, protection to the victims of discrimination, and a better life to those who suffer is to pray like crazy that those in power are afflicted with the worst possible diseases, tragedies, and circumstances in life. Because I can guarantee you, as soon as it's their ass on the line, we're all on the way to being saved."

Moore's tongue-in-cheek prayer, encouraging God to afflict the comfortable (thereby preventing them from forgetting those without money or political power), appears below:

Dear Lord (God/Yahweh/Buddha/Bob/Nobody):

We beseech You, O merciful One, to bring comfort to those who suffer today for whatever reason You, Nature, or the World Bank has deemed appropriate. We realize, O heavenly Father, that You cannot cure all the sick at once--that would surely empty out the hospitals the good nuns have established in Your name. And we accept that You, the Omniscient One, cannot eliminate all the evil in the world, for that would surely put Thee out of a job.

Rather, dear Lord, we ask that You inflict every member of the House of Representatives with horrible, incurable cancers of the brain, penis, and hand (though not necessarily in that order). We ask, Our Loving Father, that every senator from the South be rendered addicted to drugs and find himself locked away for life. We beseech You to make the children of every senator in the Mountain Time Zone gay--really gay. Put the children of senators from the East in a wheelchair and the children of senators from the West in a public school. We implore, Most Merciful One, just as You turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt, that You turn the rich--all the rich--into paupers and homeless, wiping from their positions of power, and yea, may they walk through the valley and into the darkness of a welfare office. Condemn them to a life of flipping burgers and dodging bill collectors. Let them hear the wailing of the innocents as they sit in the middle seat of row 43 in coach and let them feel the gnashing of teeth that are abscessed and rotted like the 108 million who have no dental coverage.

Heavenly Father, we pray that all white leaders (especially the alumni of Bob Jones University) who believe black people have it good these days be risen from their sleep tomorrow morning with their skin as black as a stretch limo so that they may enjoy the riches and reap the bountiful fruits of being black in America. We humbly request that Your anointed ones, the bishops of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, be smitten with ovaries and unplanned pregnancies and a pamphlet about the rhythm method.

Finally, dear Lord, we call upon You to have Jack Welch swim the Hudson he has polluted, to force Hollywood's executives to sit and watch their own movies over and over and over, to have Jesse Helms kissed on the lips by a man of his own gender, to make Chris Matthews go mute, to let the air--quickly--out of Bill O'Reilly, and turn to ash all who are responsible for those who smoke in my office. Oh, yes, and unleash with a fury of a plague of locusts to nest in the toupee of the Senate Minority Leader from the great state of Mississippi.

May You hear our prayers and grant them, O King of Kings, Who sits on high and watches over us as best You can, considering what screwups we are. Grant us some relief from our misery and suffering, as we know that the men You shall smite will be swift in their efforts to rid themselves of their misfortune, which in turn may rid us of ours.

With this we pray, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy-Spirit-Who-Used-to-Be-a-Ghost, Amen.

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