Prayer Shaming After San Bernardino Shooting: What's ‘Doing Something’?

“God Isn’t Fixing This,” declared a headline in the New York Daily News. The Daily News also provided a round-up of responses from candidates and gave this assessment: “Prayers aren’t working.”

Those responses led to a social media debate over so-called “prayer shaming,” which Emma Green of The Atlantic described this way: “Anger about the shooting was turned not toward the perpetrator or perpetrators, whose identities are still unknown, but at those who offered their prayers.” She wrote:

[quote]There’s a clear claim being made here, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers. These two reactions, policy-making and praying, are portrayed as mutually exclusive, coming from totally contrasting worldviews.


The terrorist shooting in California didn’t suprise me, but the attack on people
who offered their prayers for the victims sure did.

Until people turn back to God, I think this country will continue to be in real trouble.

"There’s a clear claim being made here, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers. These two reactions, policy-making and praying, are portrayed as mutually exclusive, coming from totally contrasting worldview."

Odd, then, that President Obama, the head of the democratic party, himself said “my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims in San Bernardino.” So much for “taking action.”

By the way, I read an opinion piece yesterday that said it is “time to repeal the 2nd amendment.” That’s the lefts idea about “doing something;” forcefully repeal Constitutional rights because it violates their ideology. Of course, if one brings up abortion, then the tune turns to how it is a Constitutionally-protected “right.” We have also recently seen how leftist want a limit on “free” speech that would prohibit “hate” speech. I wonder if in the future this country will eat itself.

It gets easier and easier to identify with Daniel, doesn’t it? I almost wish the world’s powers would just commence with the physical persecutions already, but the devil’s one virtue is patience. Lord, have mercy.

Basically, people nowadays do mot believe in God, or if they think they do, they do not understand His power or ability and willingness to act in the world.

Considering some of the reasons atheists give for not believing in God, like that God allows evil to exist, one can see that they do not understand that if people were to pray more, less evil would exist. So they do not think of prayer as something that does anything more than saying one is concerned about something. They do not see prayer as asking God for help, as widening the chink so that more of His grace can get through.

Very well stated. :thumbsup: I will not let “prayer shamers” stop me from praying or from saying that I am praying. People are trying to make this into a thing. Let’s ignore them and let their fallacious equation die of its own vacuousness. Don’t argue back. If someone’s truly willing to listen to your heartfelt testimony of how prayer has helped you or the world, that’s one thing. If not, as Our Lord said, shake the dust off your feet and move on down the road. (But continue to pray for them!)

And yet, I see these two things linked. Guns have always been part of our culture, but the recent events (this one doesn’t count because it is an act of war) indicate a growing callousness about life, which I believe has its roots in a growing callousness toward life at it’s beginning, prior to birth.

As for repeal, one can repeal the words in the Bill of Rights, but the right remains. I suspect an attempt to do so, if successful, would rightly trigger a civil war.


NY Daily News is just trying to sell papers and online ad space because shocking headlines are click bait for the average spectacle glutton.

My response:

If there’s no God to fix this, then what do we care personally? If there’s no God, then there’s no reason to feel sorry for the victims. They’re just natural selection’s latest rejects.

Good point. In that perspective, there isn’t even anything to “fix.”

I was shocked at that as well! :frowning:

You know what? It did not shock me. The secular Left’s opportunism is something I have come to take in stride.

Yes. I’ve seen a lot of this: I think one of the first was Ricky G ervais here:

“I’ll pray for you” = “I want some credit for caring, without actually having to do anything that takes any effort or that actually works.”

…and that is how some people see it. The idea is not well thought out, because letting a person or the world know that one is praying doesn’t mean that that is all one does. It may be that it is the only thing one can do if practical means of assistance aren’t available. However, sometimes “I’ll pray for you” sounds like “quiet now, I’m tired of listening to you” so there’s that. Some people do misuse the promise of prayers and that doesn’t help.

What I think has caused this to grow, besides more people having heard others prayer shaming, is that it is frustrating to hear leaders, people in authority, say that they are praying but appearing not to use the power and authority that they have to effect change. It’s not that simple, of course, but when tragic events seem to continue or get worse it does sound hollow. Many people who are not religious or spiritual, and even some that are, are kind of short-sighted and many fail to see what they could do to effect change. Some one asked about suffering in another thread and I stand by what I said there:

If God swooped in and rescued us from every bit of suffering how would we exercise empathy and care for others. What purpose would we have? Keep building bigger and smarter things. Well, yes, I think those who have the gifts to do that should, especially if it will help others. But everyone can care about and assist someone, and if not that child, then help the parents, if not the parents, then perhaps somehow indirectly by supporting educational and vocational opportunities and, this is a biggie, by being a champion for those who have challenges of any kind and by not supporting abortion that might suggest that certain people are undesirable.

It’s almost as if people want God to do their work, like a child might want the parent to do his homework. If God starts swooping in and taking away our free will, I’m pretty sure the point of living would be zip. And I think that most people would be surprised at what they won’t get to do because God intervenes or who gets smote by his almighty hand. They have no idea. We have no idea.

Prayer vigils have been scheduled in the San Bernardino area and I’ll likely be attending one sponsored by the Interfaith Council at the Islamic Center tomorrow. Offering prayers and praying for an end to violence.

That’s a bit of an assumption, don’t you think?

A few of my friends are atheists, and they are compassionate people. They have a sense of right and wrong, of justice and injustice. (They just do not believe it comes from God.)

I’ve often asked but never got a satisfactory answer; if there is no God, then there is no objective morality. If that is the case, then where does the concept of right and wrong, of justice and injustice come from?

Newspapers and all media are purposefully sensational. That is how they make money.

I’m sure an increasing percentage of our population finds prayer useless. It makes sense, from the atheist point of view, that if there is no God that not only is prayer useless but it is a waste of time that could be better spent.

Atheists can be compassionate but they have to borrow from God, who they don’t believe in, to be so. Under atheism, or at least materialism, compassion, justice and anything else immaterial doesn’t actually exist. Most atheist don’t seem to want to fully embrace their belief. They live better than their ideology.

The background is that Republican presidential contestants responded online to the shootings with the only helpful thing you can say—or do, frankly, from faraway—when a story like this occurs. “Praying for the victims, their families & the San Bernardino first responders,” said Jeb Bush. Mike Huckabee said he was “praying.” John Kasich: “My thoughts & prayers go out to those impacted.”

This managed to enrage the progressive left. You can take your prayers and stuff ’em. The answer and the only answer to this tragedy is gun control, and if you’re not for it you’re not allowed to be part of the conversation. “Please shut up and slink away,” tweeted a reporter. Another: “Your thoughts and prayers don’t mean a damn thing.” A reporter at the Huffington Post damned public officials’ “useless thoughts and prayers.” Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos: “How many dead people did those thoughts and prayers bring back to the life?”

A strange thing happened yesterday on social media. Prayer became a microaggression.

As the San Bernardino, Calif., attack unfolded in real time, most Americans knew that dozens of their fellow citizens were suffering, with hundreds more terrified. They knew police were tracking down at least two depraved killers who were armed and dangerous. They also knew there was absolutely nothing they could physically do to stop the killers or heal the victims, so they did what people of faith have been doing since the dawn of human awareness — they prayed. They prayed for protection and courage for the police, for healing and comfort for victims, and for the stamina and precision of the surgeons. They prayed because they know God is sovereign and because that was the single most effective thing they could do — in that moment — for their fellow Americans in grave need. Suddenly, however, a cascade of leftist politicians and elite journalists pounced. Shut up about “thoughts and prayers,” they said, and “slink away.”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit