American Society of Civil Engineers

Prayer in Disaster: Case Study of Christian Clergy

by Jerry T. Mitchell, (Asst. Prof. of Geography, Dept. o fGeography and Geosciences, Bloomsburg Univ. of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg, PA 17815)

Natural Hazards Review, Vol. 4, No. 1, February 2003, pp. 20-26, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Prayer for divine intervention at the time of disaster is well-documented. With a general belief in some sectors of the population that God or some external force drives disaster, to appeal to the same for help or direction should not be unexpected. A number of studies around the world and across cultures have found this to be true. Using a sample of Christian clergy in South Carolina, prayer is investigated for its perceived use as a hazard adjustment. The results indicate that there is broad support for perseverance across denominations, that prayer as protection enjoys support under certain conditions, and that prayer as prevention garners little support except among some more fundamentalist conservative clergy. An important question remaining for hazards researchers is how to recognize and support the positive roles prayer can have in the recovery and relief process of disaster in addition to other protective measures.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Disaster recovery
Human factors
Social factors
South Carolina