‘Thoughts and prayers’ is not a platitude and time spent with God is never wasted. But prayer is not an excuse for inaction on guns.
Sen. Chuck Grassley sent out a standard “prayers for victims” tweet after the Las Vegas shooting.
The response was swift — and brutal.
NYCNewbies tweeted: What is your prayer? “I pray the families of those killed don’t realize just how complicit I am in the proliferation of mass shootings”?
Peter Jacobson added: Your prayers are not enough! There’s no reason for US citizens to own weapons that can cause mass murder. It is insane to think otherwise.
Christie Rosalie: @ChuckGrassley instead of praying, stop accepting NRA $ and start changing gun laws.
Joseph Papryzcki: Laws stop this, not prayers. Do your job.
You get the idea.
Grassley said Wednesday he hadn’t seen the Twitter response but cited a Bible verse calling on prayers for all leaders: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” — 1 Timothy 2: 1-2.
“So you can’t denounce anything that involves prayer with government or for people because that’s our responsibility to do,” Grassley said during his weekly conference call with Iowa reporters.
He also said this: “I take an oath to uphold the Constitution, not an oath to uphold the Bible. So I have to do what the Constitution says. And the Supreme Court’s very clear about the right of individuals to have firearms.”
I’ve been watching the backlash rise against the expression of thoughts and prayers for a while now, with more than a little unease. We’ve seen snarling responses to prayers offered for victims of hurricanes, floods and wildfires along the lines of “get off your knees and donate/volunteer/work to stop climate change.”
The assumption is that an offer of prayers is either just a meaningless platitude or it’s merely a hypocritical façade for someone who doesn’t really care enough to act. That attitude is a self-made trap and it will prove counterproductive to those who care about gun control and other progressive causes.
Grassley was noncommittal about the possibility of any sort of gun control legislation, and that makes me mad. I’m furious that 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured after the shooting in Las Vegas. I’m livid that this keeps happening and nothing is done to prevent the next time.
I’m disgusted that the National Rifle Association and its allies have bribed and bamboozled so many elected officials into thinking the Second Amendment precludes restricting the tools of mass murder. I’m offended that our elected leaders, including President Trump and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, keep saying now is not the time to discuss gun regulations. If it’s up to them, that time will never come.
But don’t tell me not to pray about it. Don’t tell Grassley not to pray, either.
Prayer, to me, is not a passive act. Time spent with God — expressing gratitude for his blessings, asking for help, or just quietly listening — is never wasted. I brought regular prayer back into my life just over a decade ago, and it has made an enormous difference. Prayer and God’s grace are helping me get through the recent tragedy of a young friend’s suicide. It’s giving me strength to help support his parents and to work for change in our state.
Prayer is action. It’s not an excuse for inaction. I believe if those who offer prayers actually talk to God instead of just tweeting, they may gain greater wisdom and strength to do what’s right, not just what’s politically expedient.
I realize that many people who post “thoughts and prayers” on social media are really doing neither. I understand the impulse to call them out. Even so, we expect our public officials and neighbors to express concern for those who suffer and would fault them if they were silent. Even shallow gestures can help attract the attention of people who will actually do something for those in need.
It’s foolhardy for those who feel strongly about gun control to convey the message that they are anti-prayer. That is not the intention, perhaps, but that is the perception that pro-gun advocates and politicians will seize upon. They’ll say, “Look, these people are attacking your religion. You can’t let them win.”
It’s exactly the same trap that people who care about racial injustice are falling into when they allow the other side to portray them as anti-flag and disrespectful of the national anthem. I choose justice for all and respecting the flag.
To those of you who agree with me that our country needs responsible gun control, I say, don’t put God on the other side by attacking prayer. We need all the help we can get.
SOURCE: The Des Moines Register – Kathie Obradovich