LONAS: Stop Demonizing Prayer After Tragedy

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Thursday, April 11, 2019


After I see news about a school shooting, natural disaster, or a horrible crime, my first instinct is to pray—to pray for the victims and their families, pray for the first responders, pray for the police who are running into danger, the doctors providing care, and the culprits for redemption. Why? Too often, it’s all I can do.

A typical person is powerless in these situations and, accordingly, feels so. That is why many reach out to God. In their worldview, it is the way they know how to make a difference and yet politicians have been chastising religious people for trying to make change through prayer.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) after the New Zealand massacre tweetedAt 1st I thought of saying, ‘Imagine being told your house of faith isn’t safe anymore.’ But I couldn’t say ‘imagine.’ Because of Charleston. Pittsburgh. Sutherland Springs. What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?” Similarly, after the Las Vegas shooting, Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) tweeted “This senseless violence must end—thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. We must act to prevent this from happening again.”

Chris Cuomo, CNN anchor of Cuomo Prime Time, responded to a shooting at a bar in California saying:

“The only consensus there is, is in a canard and here it is. First, I would like to offer my thoughts and prayers because that’s what you do when you offer thoughts and prayers. You mock those who lost loved ones because if you gave it any thought at all, you would never walk away from any of these without figuring out a better way to deal with them.”

Later in his speech, he continued:

“And prayer? You think leaving it to God is the answer? We pray for strength, we pray for wisdom, for resolve, but we clearly don’t want to act on any of those here. So what are you praying for?”

I think it is bold of them to assume people do not want to do anything—that a religious person doesn’t see the horror and wish to take action. Sure, after a shooting there are ways to make a difference that are accessible to ordinary people: protest, call politicians, write op-eds, join movements, or donate. However, most people do not have the time or money to do this.

A Career Builder survey shows that 78% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck. These people are working tirelessly to pay the rent, buy food, and care for their families. They can not afford to donate or take the time to join a movement.

The same goes for a college student majoring in engineering who is taking 16 credits worth of classes and working 30 hours a week.  They do not have the time to be calling politicians or protesting in DC. All they can do is reach out to the highest power they know between finals when they glance at the news and pray. If that is all they can do, that is enough.

A person in power should not look at struggling everyday Americans and tell them they are not doing enough. That their “thoughts and prayers” are useless. They are not and so any insinuation otherwise amounts to mocking.

“You think leaving it to God is the answer?” Cuomo asked. The 55% of Americans who pray every single day would say yes. Religious people recognize they can’t sit back and just believe God will do everything for them. However, when an atrocity happens half a country away and a father needs to make dinner after a sixty hour work day, he turns to God. That is a sufficient answer.

Religious people want to help those in need but some of them do not have the means too. They are working to feed their own families and pay the rent and do not have the extra time or money. Considering Cuomo and Ocasio-Cortez are the ones that have the power to make a policy change, they should not mock those who seek to do so through prayer.

Alexandra Lonas is a student at The Pennsylvania State University of Altoona. She is a sophomore who is hoping to pursue a career as a political commentator. She is the president of the political science club and enjoys hiking, reading, and learning about other people's ideas.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Alexandra Lonas

Pennsylvania State University of Altoona

Alexandra Lonas is a student at The Pennsylvania State University of Altoona. She is a sophomore who is hoping to pursue a career as a political commentator. She is the president of the political science club and enjoys hiking, reading, and learning about other people's ideas.

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