I am so appalled by William McGurn’s article, “How Dare the GOP Pray for Texas?” in the Wall Street Journal on November 7 that I feel compelled to leave my comfortable little bubble and write about it. McGurn pretends to be outraged that progressives would question the power of prayer after Sunday’s horrific shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He turned the very normal and appropriate call on the part of numerous politicians, including President Trump, to offer “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families into a battle cry among liberals to do away with prayer altogether. This is an intentional misinterpretation of the progressive point of view regarding guns and religion calculated to inflame the opinions of conservative readers. We already have plenty of fake news and definitely don’t need more, especially from the legitimate press. Our country is dangerously angry and divided as it is. Why then would a reputable journalist like McGurn who, if you look at his education and history as a reporter should definitely know better, do his best to ignite even more controversy and illwill?
The liberals are not saying don’t pray. It’s clear we have gone through a heartrending event, an attack that has, in one way or another, affected every single citizen. We as a people need to pause, take stock, lick our wounds. That pause equals prayer. Mr. McGurn seems to posit that regular churchgoers, such as the poor souls at First Baptist in Sutherland Springs, are the only ones with a lock on prayer. “First and most obvious, progressives simply cannot contain their distaste toward symbols and beliefs important to ordinary Americans.” Really? Speaking subjectively, I’m a progressive who prays with almost every breath, and I know plenty of others like me. McGurn goes on to lecture: “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.” Yes, true, but we are a country of many faiths and many different ways of praying. McGurn knows full well that what liberals were really saying was: “We’ve prayed over and over again. It hasn’t gotten us anywhere. Time for action that deals in real ways with gun violence in the US.”
Prayer is not so much beside the point to most progressive thinkers as it is a reflexive act on the part of most people of faith. Who would not pray for the innocent men, women and children killed in a madman’s assault? It’s automatic, Mr. McGurn, and not the sticking point. What is the sticking point is the NRA and congress in their lockstep refusal to protect us a nation with adequate legislation regarding gun violence. I won’t go into the statistics here. More importantly: gun violence is not a partisanship issue. It affects every single man, woman and child in this country no matter what their ideology. Why then would a respected journalist like William McGurn try to conflate the issue of guns with religion? I’d say to stir the pot so that his fake take goes out to resonate in echo chambers far and wide across the internet. And for what reason? Well, as always, follow the money. Mr. McGurn evidently wants to feather his own journalistic nest, “get in good” with the powers that be, and, shortsightedly, use spurious claims to make a lot of self-serving noise. Really what all that noise will do in the end is plant him on the wrong side of history.