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 administration of President Barack Obama.” 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 company had 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 also been a target of environmentalists. Notably, the company has spilled coal slurry into a creek on seven different occasions. Murray’s prayer from Wednesday first appeared on the Web site of the Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register. The newspaper said Murray had supplied his text. The Post confirmed its legitimacy with a company spokesman, Gary M. Broadbent.
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