They are becoming increasingly more frequent. With each passing week more and more pastors across America are receiving requests from their church's members asking them to pray for people in need. While this in and of itself is not unusual, the people for whom the prayers are being requested and the needs they have are because of one simple reason...they are not real.
"Yesterday I got a call from one of my members asking me to pray for Johnston Green" said Milton Lowe, pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship in Denver. "I didn't know who this was so I asked him, and he told me that he was the former mayor of the little town of Jericho, Kansas. He then went on to explain how the guy had been struggling to keep his little town together ever since the nuclear bombs went off. I listened intently while over the next 20 minutes he told me the details of how the people of the town had seen the bomb go off destroying Denver and how they were now having to fight against other towns just to survive."
Lowe listened patiently but nonetheless confused. After the conversation ended he immediately did some internet research only to discover that Jericho, Kansas was not real, and neither was Johnston Green. Everything he had been told was from the fictional television show Jericho which airs on CBS.
"I get at least one call a week asking me to pray for either Jack or Kate or one of those people on Lost" said pastor Dean Harvey of Church of the Creator in Denver. "The most popular request I get is for Sawyer's salvation, but I also get requests to pray that Locke would come back to his senses and rejoin the survivors."
So frequent has the problem become that many pastors are becoming concerned that their members are "losing touch with reality."
"It seems that with the popularity of reality T.V. over the past few years that people are beginning to get fictional shows confused with reality shows" said Lowe. "As a result, they start praying for these people on these shows thinking that they're real. In just the past week alone I've been asked to pray for the President of the United States, but not George W. Bush. They ask me to pray for Wayne Palmer, the president on the television show 24."
In an effort to remedy the problem several pastors have banded together across denominational lines to sponsor "Turn Off The Tube Day" in which they will ask members of their congregations to turn off their televisions for one day, and spend that time doing something "constructive" like reading or spending time with their families. While the idea seems promising it is not being well-received by all members.
"I understand that there are positives to turning off the T.V." said Jeff Hollingsworth, a member of Lowe's congregation. "But those poor people in Jericho need us to know what they're going through. I keep their picture on my refrigerator and pray for them all they time. I sure hope they find out who destroyed all those cities with nuclear bombs."