The Christian Science Monitor

'Thoughts and prayers': For devout, what does it mean to pray after tragedy?

It’s a familiar performance in a long-running drama: Following a mass shooting, proponents and opponents of gun control take to the national stage, find their blocking on the scene, and recite the same impassioned lines of dialogue. But the circumstances of last week’s gun massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas, flipped the usual script. When politicians doled out their automatic condolences of “thoughts and prayers,” gun control advocates responded with rhetorical jiu-jitsu.

“The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive,” tweeted “Star Trek” actor Wil Wheaton, one of a number of Twittizens who used the cruel irony to mock Republican politicians. (He later apologized for offending “people of faith.”)

The recurring “thoughts and prayers” meme stokes fiery exchanges in a political and cultural war where gun control and religion are frontline issues. But after the shooting in Texas, the debate is no longer just about whether politicians’ stock platitudes represent a sufficient response to gun violence. It’s an argument

'Please keep praying for a solution''When you pray, move your feet''Prayer, to me, gathers people together'

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor2 min read
Points Of Progress: A Lake’s Path To Restoration, And More
Conservationists have reclaimed water rights for fish and wildlife in Walker Lake, and museums are repatriating human remains.
The Christian Science Monitor5 min readScience
Astronomers Find Water Vapor On Distant, Temperate Planet
A pair of papers published this week argue that water vapor is present on K2-18 b, a temperate planet some 111 light-years from Earth.
The Christian Science Monitor2 min readScience
Mood Lift For Climate Action
A report from a prestigious group looks at ways that adaptation to global warming can counter hopelessness about slow progress in preventing warming.