Faced with an ongoing drought that has brought severe water shortages to many regions of the state, Georgia's Gov. Sonny Perdue settled on an unusual solution in November: a state-sponsored religious service to pray for rain.
On Nov. 13, Perdue presided over a gathering of three Protestant ministers, a gospel choir and a crowd of nearly 250 citizens on the steps of the state capitol building to pray for rain.
As the Los Angeles Times put it, Gov. Perdue first led the group in prayer, begging for forgiveness for being wasteful with water.
"Oh Father, we acknowledge our wastefulness," Perdue prayed. "But we're doing better. And I thought it was time to acknowledge that to the creator, the provider of water and land, and to tell him that we will do better."
He also stated, "We have come together, very simply, for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm."
The three ministers followed Perdue, and a choir led the crowd in "Amazing Grace" and "What a Mighty God We Serve."
Perdue's critics scored the governor for failing to take the water shortage seriously and not establishing stricter conservation measures. At the height of the drought, many Georgians were infuriated to read about an Atlanta millionaire whose mansion used 60 times more water than the average home.
"We shouldn't look at it as 'Once the rains come we'll be fine,'" Gil Rogers, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, told the Times. "We'd all like to see rain, but this doesn't get us any closer to sustaining water management in Georgia."
Days before the event took place, Americans United for Separation of Church and State urged Perdue not to go through with the religious service.