U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has been mocked by liberals after the White House released a photo of him in his White House office leading a prayer before commencing a meeting with his coronavirus task force.
The White House's official Flickr account released the photo showing Pence and 15 others in his West Wing office, all with their heads bowed in prayer.
Pence has been asked by President Donald Trump to lead the federal government's response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
The author of the "Friendly Atheist" on the Patheos website, Hemant Mehta, responded to the photo by mocking: "It's not a joke when people say these Republicans are trying to stop a virus with prayer."
He continued, "What else did anyone expect? Science? Reason? Something sensible? Of course not.
"If this virus truly becomes a pandemic, we're at the mercy of people delusional enough to think their pleas to God will fix the problem."
Mehta even went on to mock God, saying: "The same God who presumably created the virus, at least in their minds, will somehow make sure it hurts only a handful of Americans … and a ton of Chinese people."
New York Times Magazine contributor, Thomas Chatterton Williams, responded to the photo saying, "We are so screwed."
In a Twitter post, he said: "They're treating this disease with the seriousness and urgency they bring to gun violence. While some are taking solace in the thought that this administration — which disbanded the CDC pandemic team in 2018 — performatively prays for the camera, this is a chilling window into their actual epidemiological unpreparedness and incompetence."
The Trump administration is not the first U.S. administration to turn to prayer in times of crisis, however. Many will remember that in the 1990s Democrat President Bill Clinton insisted that his speechwriter amend one of his speeches from "No president makes decisions like this one without deep thought" to "No president makes decisions like this one without thoughts and prayers."
President John F. Kennedy was a devout Roman Catholic, and is it well documented how he often prayed in St Matthew's Cathedral next to the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
President Jimmy Carter is probably the most famous Sunday School Teacher in the world, and he has often spoken about turning to prayer for wisdom and guidance in his life.
Responding to those criticizing Pence for his prayers, contributing religion writer for The Atlantic, Jonathan Merritt, wrote: "Criticize Mike Pence all you want for being inept in his strategy to dealing with this. But mocking him for praying — like 79 [percent] of Americans have done in the past 3 months — is why so many regular Americans despise wine-and-cheese liberals."
Meanwhile, Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, called the photo "touching" and "powerful."
He tweeted: "Let's join them in asking God for His wisdom, direction, & help in the response to this virus."