What do you do if your state is plagued by a crippling drought?

Well, if you're Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, you pray.

On Tuesday, Perdue organized a prayer vigil in Atlanta to pray for his drought-stricken state.

“It's time to appeal to Him, who can and will make a difference,” Perdue said during the vigil. “We've come together here simply for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm.”

Georgia, in case you didn't know, is caught in an epic drought that threatens public water supplies. Perdue has ordered water restrictions, launched a legal battle against the release of water from federal reservoirs and appealed to President Bush for help.

Now, he's appealing to a higher power.

Less than 24 hours after he and other religious leaders bowed their heads and asked for rain, their prayers seemed to be answered when a few drops were squeezed from the clouds.

Coincidence? Maybe. But who knows?

More importantly, who cares?

Remembering what we all felt early last year when Texas was rocked with a serious drought that destroyed crops, dried up river beds and led to a series of wildfires, we can understand the desperation Perdue must feel.

But one group, The Atlanta Freethought Society, doesn't. The secular group was irritated that the governor was violating the principle of separation of church and state by holding a public prayer vigil - so they staged a protest.

(Enter heavy sigh and gigantic eye roll.)

Now, I love a good cause just as much as the next girl. Give me a justifiable injustice and I'm organizing the rally against it. Likewise, I don't believe that religion should be sanctioned by the state in any way. Indeed, everyone should have the right - and in America we do - to worship (or not) the way we see fit. It's the beauty of being an American.

And protesters, lest we not forget, have those same rights. Unfortunately, many of the groups that take to the streets to rally a cause do so for the wrong reasons - and at the wrong time.

Rational-minded people who understand what a shortage of water can mean to an entire state don't care who does what to make the rains come.

I'm not an Indian, but last year I might have been convinced to do a little rain dance if I thought it would help.

Desperate people, after all, do desperate things.

In the case of a governor from Georgia who happens to have a faith not everyone agrees with, he did what came natural in times of trouble. He prayed.

And that's not violating the separation of church and state, it's called practicing free speech and freedom of religion.

Something those “free thinkers” might want to consider before they stage their next protest.

SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at 254-968-2379, ext. 240.