Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Daily Signal on November 8, 2017.
Adversity does not build character, James Lee Allen wrote, it reveals it. That’s become painfully clear in the last 24 hours, as many liberals seem intent on showing the country just how little they’ve learned about Americans since last year’s election.
The party that thought calling voters “deplorable” was a winning strategy is back at it, shaming leaders for suggesting something as unsophisticated as prayer after Sunday’s horrific massacre. From governors to sitting senators, the left lashed out at Republicans for daring to suggest that faith might help a community that died for it.
To the devastated people of Sutherland Springs, Texas, President Donald Trump told a grieving nation, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of today’s horrible and murderous attack.” And while liberals didn’t seem to mind when President Barack Obama responded likewise to the Navy Yard shooting in 2013, many are completely unglued that this administration would address a churchshooting by invoking God.
When House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., offered his condolences, the left unleashed a string of statements almost too impossible to believe (and some, too offensive to print). Actor Wil Wheaton’s response was absolutely jaw-dropping, even for Hollywood: “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack of s—.”
“It’s sad, and this is what you’ll get from the far secular left,” a genuinely stunned Ryan told Laura Ingraham. “People who do not have faith don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say … And, it is the right thing to do—to pray in moments like this because you know what?” Ryan continued. “Prayer works.” But, he went on, “When you hear the secular left doing this thing, no wonder you’ve got so much polarization and disunity in this country when people think like that.”
And while Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s, D-Mass., attack didn’t include any four-letter words, she didn’t mind treating faith like one. “Thoughts & prayers are not enough, GOP,” wrote the Massachusetts Democrat. “We must end this violence. We must stop these tragedies. People are dying while you wait.”
Not to be outdone, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested that we have “professionals” for this praying thing. “We have pastors, priests, and rabbis to offer thoughts and prayers. What we need from Republicans in D.C. is to do something. Lead.” In other words, keep your religion in church where it belongs and let government be our God.
Ever the diplomat, Keith Olbermann‘s Twitter feed dripped with disdain. “‘Thoughts and prayers’ again, @realDonaldTrump, idiot? These people were in CHURCH. They WERE praying.”
The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn has seen a lot of things in his journalistic career. But these responses were among the most astounding.
” … [P]rogressives simply cannot contain their distaste toward symbols and beliefs important to ordinary Americans,” he writes. “Until Sunday this columnist thought it impossible to match the obtuseness of millionaire athletes showing disrespect for the national anthem and the fans who pay their salaries. But give credit where it’s due: The thoughts-and-prayers police make the NFL protesters look like Gandhis.”
“Second, those doing the taunting apparently have no idea how childish their understanding of prayer is. As the families that come each week to the First Baptist Church appreciate, prayer is not a magic talisman against suffering. In a faith that commands its adherents to pick up their crosses, prayer is a way to praise the Almighty and, when necessary, ask for courage and resolve to do the right thing.”
The secular left’s gospel of condescension is the same today as it was in 2008 and 2016. Only the ignorant and unenlightened believe in a power higher than government. Only the deplorable flyovers cling to their guns and religion. It’s the exact smug self-importance that cost the Democratic Party the White House. And a full 12 months later, they show no desire or will to change it. Not even in this moment, when parents are bundling their children into tiny-sized coffins and grandparents are planning for Thanksgiving with eight empty chairs.
In the end, that’s the real disgrace. Not just the lack of religious conviction in their taunts, but the lack of compassion. Instead of lessening this town’s suffering, they’re adding to it by calling what these people died for unimportant and irrelevant. The 26 people in pews that Sunday morning certainly didn’t think so. And if they were alive today, I have no doubt that every single one of them would agree: prayer isn’t the problem. It’s part of the solution. A spiritually sick society that embraces violence instead of values needs God.
Gun control, knife control, truck rental control, pressure cooker control—they’re never going to stop evil. Only a faithful people, with hearts turned toward what’s right, can do that. Until then, we mourn with those who mourn, recognizing, as Sutherland Springs Pastor Frank Pomeroy does, “I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”