Yet another mass shooting has dominated news in America. On Wednesday, multiple shooters opened fire at Inland Regional Center, a developmental disability facility in San Bernardino, California, killing at least 14 people and wounding an additional 21. This shooting is hitting me a lot harder than others, not because it's more tragic than what happened in Paris or Roseburg or Newtown or Aurora or Columbine, or because I live about an hour's drive from the Inland Empire (without traffic, of course). It's because politicians' formulaic reaction to mass shootings has now spurred a debate over the power of prayer, which has culminated in a powerful yet controversial front cover of The New York Daily News.
The newspaper teased its Thursday front page via Twitter, a few hours after a car chase and subsequent gunfight with police left two suspects — one male, one female — dead in the streets of nearby Redlands, with another person in police custody. Tweets from Republicans Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan litter the Daily News' cover, each sharing their "prayers" for the shooting victims and their families. In bold all-caps block lettering, the cover declares "God isn't fixing this" and adds "As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in polls of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes."
It's a provocative message, sure, and one that will divide opinions. I'm a Christian — a pastor's kid at that — and this cover doesn't offend me. That's because its message is right.
When you are in a position of power, when you propose laws of this land, when you are responsible for your constituents and their safety, your duty is to provide more than just rhetoric of sympathy. Too often have mass shootings gripped this nation. Too often has this country been forced to send its thoughts and prayers. And too often have our political leaders failed to do anything to ensure that these tragedies don't happen again. As the Daily News says, these politicians, and so many other lawmakers who have tweeted their condolences, have the ability to "truly end gun scourge." And yet here we are with another deadly gun massacre on American soil.
Prayer is not meaningless, and it's wrong to shame people for wanting to pray. If you want to send your thoughts and prayers, go on ahead. America is blessed to have laws that guarantee your right to pray in any language or religion you believe in.
But prayer and action are not mutually exclusive.
I believe that God put us on this earth to create our own paths and to make our own choices, and prayer can help guide us into action in our own lives. No, God isn't fixing this. It's our responsibility to decide our own fates. It's time politicians extend their hands across the aisle and put an end to this kind of rampant gun violence, instead of simply crossing their hands and bowing their heads in prayer.