Don’t Condemn Actor Chris Pratt for Praying After Kevin Smith’s Heart Attack

Actor Chris Pratt was criticized recently for telling Clerks director Kevin Smith via Twitter that he would be praying for him after Smith announced that he suffered a “massive heart attack.”

Pratt was far from the only celebrity sending out his well wishes, but he was apparently one of the few to bring prayer into it.

Many Twitter users — some of whom were presumably atheists — were quick to scorn Pratt for offering unsolicited prayer. Perhaps in the wake of the most recent school shooting, anyone offering prayer as a healing tool is bound to receive a lot of backlash. But some, like director and producer James Gunn, who worked with Pratt on Guardians of the Galaxy, came to the actor’s defense with tweets of his own:

I have to agree with Gunn here. People told my non-religious father they were praying for him when he was diagnosed with cancer, and many of them followed up by bringing our family meals and offering to mow our lawn and walk our dogs. Most people who offer “thoughts and prayers” do so with good intentions — mainly because, in the aftermath of a serious illness or a school shooting, any other words or gestures feel meaningless.

You can say the prayers won’t change Smith’s condition — and that’s true — but Pratt wasn’t suggesting Smith accept his prayers in lieu of actual medical help.

That’s a far cry from Republican politicians who routinely tweet out their thoughts and prayers instead of proposing any legislation that could curb gun violence. For them, prayer is a substitute for action, and they deserve all the criticism they get.

Pratt’s gesture, on the other hand, could be considered insensitive only if he knew Kevin Smith would not appreciate it or if Smith had made it publicly known that he prefers people to keep their prayers to themselves. That’s not the case. In fact, in a video posted to Facebook yesterday, Smith urged his fans to lay off: “Please don’t fight over stuff like that… It’s a waste of time.”

If Smith wasn’t bothered by what Pratt said, there’s no reason for anyone else to treat his words as anything but a well-intentioned gesture. Atheists are free to point out the uselessness of prayer, and how it won’t heal Smith, but it’d be wrong to pretend Pratt was offering prayer as the only thing that’s needed at this time.

He was hoping for the best, for a man he admires, while speaking in Christianese. Save the harsh criticism for the people who actually deserve it.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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