I recognize fully that I am screaming into the void here. These words fall on deaf ears. Willfully unhearing, covered and plugged-for-the-firing-range ears of people who will not be moved. But here goes anyway.
If you are the president of the United States and you are releasing statements–or, let’s be real, Tweets–about your “thoughts and prayers being with the victims and their families,” then please, just spare us. Your prayers are for shit if you aren’t willing to acknowledge that we have a gun problem
If you are a Senator, a member of Congress, a state or local leader with any kind of voice or platform, then you can bypass the tropes. If you are not also willing to stand up to the NRA and make some semblance of movement towards common sense gun laws, then your prayers are for shit, too.
Your prayers are furthermore for shit if you are an American citizen, regularly and intentionally voting for those who hold the sanctity of firearms over the sanctity of people’s lives.
I’m not sorry for the harsh words. There are no words for this outrage, but what words I do have are harsh ones right now. And I’ll say it again: your prayers are worthless, posturing bullshit if you will not address the real issue.
I’ve read the Constitution. No part of “well-armed militia” means this kind of mass carnage. No part of the rights implied for hunting and protection involve automatic assault rifles that can take down hundreds of bodies in seconds. And, hear this–there is nothing in scripture that justifies the existence, let alone the ownership of such weapons. (Yes, I realize that the Constitution and the Bible are 2 different things, but most folks who are still in the NRA camp value both equally, so it’s worth pointing out the fallacy).Do I believe in prayer? Absolutely. I also believe that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and that God moves around and alongside us in times of suffering, in ways that we could never understand or put into words. That said, I do not believe that God is going to swoop down here and fix this for us. That’s like expecting to be rescued from a sinking boat while you are on-purpose poking holes in the boat. It’s like asking to be saved from a moving train while stepping in front of a moving train. God is sick of hearing from us about this. God has no patience for the way we throw up our hands and say “how long, O Lord?” This is not a mystery. It’s not like we don’t know how to fix this. This is a human problem that’s going to require human solutions.
When I see all those pretty memes about “thoughts and prayers,” I just want to say… You know, these days we are training teachers (and pastors, and nurses, and I could go on) in how to place their body between a shooter and a child. And every day, those people go out there, knowing that they might have to do just that. And they are more than ready to do it. We are willing, at any given moment, to serve as a human shield in the face of rapid gunfire.
Which is to say, if you are not brave enough to at least stand up for background checks, waiting periods, and some restrictions on army-grade assault rifles, then forgive me if I don’t want to hear about your prayer life. I will be praying for YOU to grow a spine.
The guns are just going to keep getting bigger and easier to access, unless we change the conversation. Unless we change how we think about life, and what it really means to be free. We are, all of us, out of words. All we can do is keep calling our law makers and reminding them that this is on them. This is in their hands. And if they don’t have the courage to lead and protect their people, then they should be ashamed to pray. Their prayers are worthless in the face of this evil. You’ve heard that faith without works is dead, right? Well, we need works. It is time for action. Pray all you want, but back it up with something substantive, or get out of our face with your fake piety.