After Obama reelection, Murray Energy CEO reads prayer, announces layoffs


In this 2007 file photo, Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray waits to be interviewed by a television news program in Utah. On Nov. 7,2012, the day after the presidential election, Murray laid off 156 employees. (Paul Fraughton/AP)
November 9, 2012

For the chairman and chief executive of Murray Energy, an Ohio-based coal company, the reelection of President Obama was no cause for celebration. It was a time for prayer — and layoffs.

Robert E. Murray read a prayer to a group of company staff members on the day after the election, lamenting the direction of the country and asking: “Lord, please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp. for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build.”

On Wednesday, Murray also laid off 54 people at American Coal, one of his subsidiary companies, and 102 at Utah American Energy, blaming a “war on coal” by the Obama administration. Although that charge was repeatedly leveled during the election, energy analysts say that the coal-mining business is suffering because of competition from low-cost natural gas and rising production costs of coal, especially in the Appalachian region.

Murray Energy is the country’s largest privately owned coal mining company, with about 3,000 employees producing about 30 million tons of bituminous coal a year, according to its Web site.

The company was the subject of an article in the New Republic that said the firm forced miners to attend a Romney campaign speech in southeastern Ohio in August. Murray denied the account. The New Republic also reported that Murray Energy employees have given more than $1.4 million to Republican candidates for federal office since 2007.

Murray has been a target of environmentalists. Notably, the company has spilled coal slurry into a creek on seven occasions.

Murray’s prayer from Wednesday first appeared on the Web site of the Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register. The newspaper said Murray supplied his text. The Washington Post confirmed its legitimacy with a company spokesman, Gary M. Broadbent.

Here is the full text of the prayer:

“Dear Lord:

The American people have made their choice. They have decided that America must change its course, away from the principals of our Founders. And, away from the idea of individual freedom and individual responsibility. Away from capitalism, economic responsibility, and personal acceptance.

We are a Country in favor of redistribution, national weakness and reduced standard of living and lower and lower levels of personal freedom.

My regret, Lord, is that our young people, including those in my own family, never will know what America was like or might have been. They will pay the price in their reduced standard of living and, most especially, reduced freedom.

The takers outvoted the producers. In response to this, I have turned to my Bible and in II Peter, Chapter 1, verses 4-9 it says, ‘To faith we are to add goodness; to goodness, knowledge; to knowledge, self control; to self control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, kindness; to brotherly kindness, love.’

Lord, please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp. for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build. We ask for your guidance in this drastic time with the drastic decisions that will be made to have any hope of our survival as an American business enterprise.

Amen.”

Steven Mufson covers the White House. Since joining The Post, he has covered economics, China, foreign policy and energy.
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