It’s become a sort of twisted American ritual: A lone white male shooter opens fire on a crowd of people. Americans cry out for someone to do something and are met with shoulder shrugs, mumblings about “the price of freedom” and assurances that the people elected to protect them are sending their “thoughts and prayers.”..
It’s not that there is anything wrong with praying for those who are suffering. In fact, if you are a religious believer, it’s an imperative. I’m not in the camp that dismisses prayer as superstitious mumbo-jumbo embraced only by the unenlightened. I’m a person who prays and who has been prayed for and knows its power.
But it’s not enough….
But Christians especially believe that our faith leads us to action.
“If we profess to follow Jesus, all of our talk must be indivisibly connected to all of our deeds. If there are no deeds, then the talk is meaningless,” the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III told me. “The contrived, empty platitudes [from these politicians] are a public relations gimmick to avoid confronting this ideologically captive religion which bears no fruit.”
The “ideologically captive religion” to which Rivers refers is white evangelical Christianity, which has so intertwined itself with the Republican Party and conservative political ideology, it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins.Strangely, when it comes to other issues these same Christians don’t feign helplessness and limit solutions to “thoughts and prayers.” If the shooter in Las Vegas had been named Mohammed, you can be sure that these same leaders would be offering a laundry list of “solutions” to keep more Mohammeds out of America. For that matter, have you ever seen a politician just throw up his or her hands about legalized abortion — which has been the law of the land for 40 years — and say there is nothing that can be done, but “thoughts and prayers” all around? …
At a minimum — and even if it wouldn’t have prevented the most recent tragedy in Las Vegas — why can’t these leaders support the simplest gun control measures such as requiring criminal background checks at gun shows and on Internet sales?
Jesuit priest James Martin summed it up to me this way: “If your thoughts and prayers are truly with somebody, it means you are going to do something to help them. Jesus prayed. But he prays and then he acts. We also have to act.”