February 01, 2018
In the past decade or so, there's been a shift in our culture. Maybe you've noticed it too.
Calls for prayer in the wake of tragedies, something that used to almost universally embraced, is now met with cynicism and outright hostility. Last November, I wrote about the hostile response to prayer for the church attack in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And now, the same scenario has been unfolding in Kentucky, where Marshall County was scene to a horrific shooting massacre at a high school, leaving two students dead and many others injured.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin issued a proclamation that January 28th would be a "Day of Prayer for Marshall County." The backlash and mockery of Bevin's proclamation was fast and furious. One Louisville commentator said, "I don't care what god you pray to, but if your blind faith prohibits you from seeing the answers, your faith is worthless. Your faith in prayer alone drowned two kids from Marshall County last week." An atheist blogger echoed, "This is just another Republican governor using the aftermath of a tragedy to promote his personal faith." The hostility from social media piled on as well.
I understand cynicism from unbelievers -- I get that. But the open hostility toward people who are hurting and seeking their God does nothing to comfort, nothing to unite, and nothing to heal. A call to prayer harms no one.
Yesterday on my radio show, I asked Governor Bevin about how important prayer was in healing a tragedy like the families in Marshall County are experiencing. Bevin put it in perspective:
"I've seen firsthand evidence -- just in Marshall County, just in the last week (and change) -- how important it is. These people volitionally -- not because they were instructed to, not because anyone came from the outside and suggested it, but both organically and volitionally from within that community, they had prayer vigils, prayer meetings, gatherings of people, students and adults alike, independent of the school, at the school, in places of worship, outside places of worship -- it was remarkable.
And again, the reason being is not because this provides a false solace. But because it is a direct and immediate connection to the very Creator that endowed us with the unalienable rights that so often we have taken for granted in this country -- that our founders understood was important. And I just found it encouraging, frankly, as a person of faith myself, to see this community binding together through this in a terrifically terrible time. And yet they were coming together and comforted by their faith. Look at the history of our country -- from the very beginning this has been something recognized by our political leaders as something of importance."
Time after time throughout my career, I've seen what Governor Bevin is talking about play out, and hold true. In fact, I would go so far as to say that prayer is the most powerful response we can make when tragedy strikes. In turning our hearts toward the One who sustains all things, we are reminded that we have no hope in the things of this world.
Matt Bevin gets that. And he isn't of the sort that will back down to internet bullies. He knows what's truly at stake:
"I would encourage all people in positions of influence, whether they're in political office -- whether they're coaches, whether they're teachers, whether they're parents in the home – be bold and unapologetic about the things that you know to be truth. We have no reason to apologize. We don't need to be ashamed. [...] Do not allow mockery and ridicule to move you from what you know to be true."
I couldn't agree more. Let's stand with Governor Bevin and Kentucky as they kneel in prayer for healing in the face of evil.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.