The left mocks prayer after U.S. tragedies

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Sumter being a strong faith-based community that believes in the power of prayer, I thought readers might appreciate a Nov. 7 column in The Wall Street Journal by William McGurn. It's about how the people in Texas responded to the Baptist church massacre and how the deranged left in this country, as usual, went ballistic. It's another example of why the left really is off the rails. Not a fun read, but here it is, and thanks to Mr. McGurn for putting things in perspective.

How dare the GOP pray for Texas?

Imagine you are a sane Democrat who recognizes that a big reason Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in November was that she alienated many members of the white working class. In the year since, you have been working on your fellow Democrats to change their message in hopes of wooing these voters back into the fold. Then a gunman opens fire at a Baptist church in Texas, and suddenly progressives are in full deplorable mode, attacking anyone who dares offer ... prayers.

This is the extraordinary turn of events since Devin Patrick Kelley turned his rifle on the innocent churchgoers inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. What provoked the left, if it can really be called a provocation, was President Trump's statement from Japan Sunday, in which he said that "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of today's horrible and murderous attack." House Speaker Paul Ryan likewise set off the furies by tweeting, "The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now."

The responses have to be read to be believed. Here's one of the more charming: "The murdered victims were in a church," tweeted actor Wil Wheaton to Mr. Ryan. "If prayers did anything, they'd still be alive, you worthless sack of [expletive]."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren chose less inflammatory wording for her own tweet. "Thoughts & prayers are not enough, GOP," wrote the Massachusetts Democrat. "We must end this violence. We must stop these tragedies. People are dying while you wait." In short, if you are a Republican praying instead of passing gun control, you've got blood on your hands.

The Huffington Post devoted an entire piece to the phenomenon, under the headline "People Fed Up With 'Thoughts and Prayers' Demand Action After Texas Church Massacre." It featured tweets from celebrities and gun-control advocates who believe they had discovered something big: Prayers aren't always answered.

Here's how these new theologians put it. Keith Olbermann: "'Thoughts and prayers' again, @realDonaldTrump, idiot? These people were in CHURCH. They WERE praying." Actress Marina Sirtis: "To all those asking for thoughts and prayers for the victims in #churchshooting, it seems that your direct line to God is not working." Or MSNBC's Joy Reid: "Remember when Jesus of Nazareth came upon thousands of hungry people, and rather than feeding them, thought and prayed?"

The smugness is illuminating in three important ways. First and most obvious, progressives simply cannot contain their distaste toward symbols and beliefs important to ordinary Americans. Until Sunday this columnist thought it impossible to match the obtuseness of millionaire athletes showing disrespect for the national anthem and the fans who pay their salaries. But give credit where it's due: the thoughts-and-prayers police make the NFL protestors look like Gandhis.

It is now deplorable to offer "thoughts and prayers" for the First Baptist church families.

Second, those doing the taunting apparently have no idea how childish their understanding of prayer is. As the families that come each week to the First Baptist Church appreciate, prayer is not a magic talisman against suffering. In a faith that commands its adherents to pick up their crosses, prayer is a way to praise the Almighty and, when necessary, ask for courage and resolve to do the right thing.

Finally, isn't it curious how the same folks who blasted Mr. Trump for politicizing the recent attack in Manhattan by an Islamic terrorist are now denouncing prayer because of a political preference?

They believe the answer is federal gun control, and this is their right. But it's hard not to notice they believe this with an absolute faith that seems immune to reason or evidence to the contrary - a secular faith even the most fervent Christian might envy. Or that in their disdain for prayer they ironically appear to have more in common with the shooter than his victims.

Surely it is possible to make the case for gun control without mocking prayer. But as with Mrs. Clinton and her infamous remarks about Trump voters - not only deplorable but irredeemable - those denouncing Messrs. Trump and Ryan's offer of prayers don't really want an argument. They want to express their feelings of moral superiority.

Never mind, too, that Barrack Obama offered his "thoughts and prayers" as often as any president, such as after a 2013 shooting in Washington when he said, "We send our thoughts and prayers to all at the Navy Yard who've been touched by this tragedy." No one complained then, either because they were comfortable that Mr. Obama didn't really believe in prayer or his faith in gun control was absolute.

Over the next few weeks, the surviving members of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs will wrap their fallen in love and lay them to rest. What these survivors may individually believe about gun control is anyone's guess. But it's hard to believe that the way to their hearts is by mocking offers of prayer, even from Republicans.

Write to mcgurn@wsj.com.

Reach Hubert Osteen at hubert@theitem.com.