I am a person of deep faith. I am one who knows and recognizes the power of prayer. My heart was broken as I saw the images coming out of Texas. I cannot imagine what that horror must’ve been like. I was driving as I listened to stories about the church and those there. I had to pull over as my emotions got the best of me. I prayed for the families, for that little church, for the family of the shooter, and I prayed for our country. I think thoughts and prayers are always appropriate. However, I am sympathetic to those who are growing frustrated with the phrase “thoughts and prayers” as a response to these tragedies — especially from politicians.
I believe faith is a principle of action. “Thoughts and prayers” should be the beginning of our reconciling such tragedies, not our only response. We have a responsibility as a country, especially as people of faith, to speak truth to power, to work in a way that promotes the greatest amount of justice for all of God’s children. Now I am not about to propose policy or pretend to have all the answers when it comes to the complexities of these mass shootings. I also find it disingenuous and hypocritical to cast all people of faith as right-wing ideologues. Yet the idea that our politicians won’t even discuss ways we could protect citizens beyond arming everyone is unacceptable — especially if they are going to invoke a sacred response of prayer after each man-made disaster. Like James directs: Faith without works is dead.
How we address the problems of gun violence in the United States will be complex, political and imperfect and require soul-searching and compromise. To do nothing, to not even discuss the issue in the halls of Congress and state legislatures because of the fear of powerful special interests, is both cowardly and blasphemous. We are better than this. We can and should ask for God’s grace and comfort. We should also ask for the wisdom and courage to act.