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.
Dear “thoughts and prayers” people: Please shut up and slink away. You are the problem, and everyone knows it.— Gene Weingarten (@geneweingarten) December 2, 2015
Compare + contrast: pic.twitter.com/vWXoIHd1Uy— George Zornick (@gzornick) December 2, 2015
Connecticut Democratic senator Chris Murphy tried to tell Americans what to think and how to pray:
Your “thoughts” should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your “prayers” should be for forgiveness if you do nothing — again.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 2, 2015
The Huffington Post was of course all over the anti-prayer trend, with Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney writing a piece that began:
Public officials are the people society trusts to solve society’s ills. Like, say, gun violence. But every time multiple people have been gunned down in a mass shooting, all these officials can seemingly do is rush to offer their useless thoughts and prayers.
Not to be outdone, Kim Bellware tried to claim that conservative politicians’ prayers were all about the money, painstakingly documenting how various GOP leaders who tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” had received donations from the NRA, purportedly exposing — what? — a “pay to pray” scandal?
Ballsiest newspaper front page of the day. pic.twitter.com/K58FFtoVmg— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) December 3, 2015
The attack on “thoughts and prayers” represents a convergence of two of the Left’s nastiest traits — its hysterical anti-Christian bigotry and its impulse to shame and silence its ideological opponents. There is no American demographic the Left despises more than Christian conservatives. Even as it cherishes Muslim religious liberty and rails against “Islamophobia,” it systematically mocks Christians and attacks Christian religious expression. “Clock Boy” gets White House invites while the owners of Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are threats to the Republic. Muslim college students deserve a “safe space,” while Christian student groups are systematically marginalized and often kicked off campus.Combine this bigotry with the Left’s increasing insistence that dissenting speech isn’t just wrong but dangerous and violent, and we have a very real problem. Earlier this week, pro-life Americans were treated to an avalanche of vitriol, with claims that even the most conventional pro-life arguments were inherently provocative and “irresponsible.” As the San Bernardino shooting unfolded, the Left went even further, mocking and attempting to shame any speech that wasn’t in line with their preferred posturing. You’re either part of their “solution” or you should just shut up.
Over at The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway wrote an interesting piece arguing that the Left is offering its own prayers — to the god of government. I don’t think this is quite right. They’re praying to a god, all right, but it’s the god of self — to their own infinite wisdom and virtue. For now, government is the instrument of their divine will, but put Ted Cruz in the White House and watch how quickly dissent once again is the highest form of patriotism.
Lost in all the Left’s online condescension and scorn is any sense of reality. Last night — even as the gun battle raged — they postured over and over about gun control, without offering a single proposal that would have stopped yesterday’s shootings. And even if someone did tweet a bold and original idea, would that tweet accomplish anything? It was all an exercise in virtue-signaling, nothing more.
But the virtue-signaling is backfiring. Offering thoughts and prayers — especially when the facts are confused, people are in pain, and victims themselves are praying and begging for prayers — is an act of compassion. Political posturing is an act of arrogance. Most Americans are wise enough to discern the difference.
— David French is an attorney, a staff writer at National Review, and a veteran of the Iraq War.