Prayer plea for ‘dark spiritual areas’ of Kansas draws criticism

A Christian group that ministers to Kansas lawmakers has called for prayers for “dark spiritual areas” in the state — drawing complaints from some Democrats who saw the message as a slap at their constituents.

In a Feb. 7 letter addressing a variety of issues and people in need of prayer, the Capitol Commission asked followers to pray for much of the Kansas City area and other parts of the state.

“Target prayer for dark spiritual areas of SE Kansas, Lawrence, KCKS, North Johnson County — ask God to restore the land,” the group wrote.

It also sought prayers for the governor, his staff, legislative leaders and the media. A leader of the group said the identified areas were noted for economic troubles, not for their partisan leanings.

But House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, posted a copy of the statement to his Facebook page Tuesday. His post called the statement “truly offensive” as he defended Lawrence as a community with deep spiritual roots.

“Do you think it a coincidence that all of these areas are represented by Democrats in the Kansas Legislature?” Davis asked.

The Capitol Commission is a nonprofit group based in Raleigh, N.C., with a mission of reaching the “capitol community for Christ, one person at a time.”

It has ministries in 21 states, including Missouri and Kansas. State directors teach weekly Bible studies for legislators, lobbyists and staff members, according to the group’s website.

Dave DePue, the Capitol Commission’s Kansas director, said in an interview that he hopes collective prayer can help those so-called dark spiritual areas, which he said aren’t prospering. He did, however, acknowledge some positive economic developments.

“We’re just praying for the economy,” he said.

DePue denied the plea for prayer was focused on Democratic strongholds.

“If it was, we’d have to be praying for northeast Kansas and Topeka,” he said. “It has nothing to do with politics.”

He said he didn’t intend to offend anyone and apologized.

“It’s just unfortunate wording on my part,” he said.

Rep. Kathy Wolf Moore, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat, called the comments about Kansas City, Kan., “unfortunate” and “unbelievable.”

“Obviously, he hasn’t been to Wyandotte County lately,” she said. “It is one of the brightest (economic) spots in the state.”