Prayer Is Not Stoic Detachment: The Uselessness of Condemning Prayer as Useless


Politicising tragedy for political leverage seems to be the going thing these days.

By the tone on social media, one would not be wrong in assuming that the victims of the shooting which occurred on Sunday at a Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, were atheists, and those from the Left side of the political spectrum.

Some decided to use this tragic event to ridicule prayer, throwing their contempt at anyone who took a second to share sympathy with those actually caught up in the shooting.

The response from the Left on social media was far from their alleged tolerant embrace of diversity. It was far from the “love” activism the Left say they stand for. Instead of showing solidarity, charity, or real care, in a selfless act of lament and sympathy, they used the real victims of yesterday’s tragedy for selfish gain.

Instead of promoting support for the community involved, the Leftist social media complex decided to add insult to injury, then sat back to watch their social media stock value rise, as like-minded sycophants padded their stats with likes, shares, memes, retweets and opportunist comments.

Though prayer bashing has increased in recent years, this isn’t a new phenomenon. What stands out here is the magnified incongruence between a group of people who claim to speak from a platform of diversity and their active prejudice against Christian practice. The question has to be asked, if this were a Mosque and not a Church, would the response have been the same?

One on hand I can understand the suspicion. Saying that you’re praying for someone doesn’t always translate into the act of praying for someone. Christians have from time to time dropped the ball by giving lip service to prayer, rather than actually doing it. Instead of standing with people, prayer has been used as a cop-out.

On the other hand, not every Christian does this. No real Church advocates lazy discipleship or mechanised stoic detachment. Prayer unifies, it brings different people together. It doesn’t divide or distinguish between whether you are holy or not. It’s an invitation to participate with God, and Jesus Christ is the seal on that invitation. Come as you are.

Immediately after the news broke, social media lit up. Instead of offering sympathy and support to the victims, many on the Left attacked Republicans, using America’s cruel obsession with high-powered guns as a moral platform to build support for higher levels of gun control.

This is where the unintentional hilarity XYZ writers talk a lot about, hits the ground running.

The second that tragedies of the same ilk are attributed to Islamic Terrorism, the Left rushes to defend Islam. Attempts are made to suppress the real cause under a thick layer of denial, identity politics and false accusations. Whereby anyone who speaks out against the act in the context of its ideological origins, is accused of being an Islamophobe. All of which are tactics employed to control the narrative, telling you what to think, what to feel, and how you should respond.

The message is clear. Leftists have no problem with condemning an act and its ideological cause, as long as it serves up some form of political gain. In the case of the Texas Church shooting massacre, this means that Republicans and the NRA are legitimate, politically correct targets. Just don’t apply the same rule, the next time there is an “incident attributed to” Islamists and their faithful following of the Quran.

Measuring reactions to the Texas shooting from people on both sides of the political spectrum, it would also seem that offering those suffering sympathy, is now a crime against humanity.

Those who share sympathy through thoughts and prayers with another community is intolerable, making your sympathy useless, antiquated and pointless.

This is a tragedy within a tragedy. People believe that ridiculing sympathy forces people to act. The reality is that sympathy precedes support. It motivates us to care and act on that care. Without sympathy we cannot show support. It’s that part of our humanity which moves us towards empathy, towards the solidarity of suffering.

Sympathy is a valid emotional connection that leads to empathy. It motivates us to move from sentiment to action. Only sociopaths are devoid of sympathy. Only psychopaths are devoid of both sympathy and empathy, and would ridicule both as worthless.

Sharing grief with those who are grieving is not a worthless act. It reminds us that we are human because sharing grief acknowledges the vulnerable, and through the vulnerable we are reminded of our own humanity. One worthwhile and traditional element of that sharing is to stand in prayer with those who are suffering or have suffered.

Genuinely offering to pray for someone may be politically incorrect, and loaded with suspicion, but it’s never a useless act.

Christian prayer, is not stoic detachment [i]. Honest prayer requires humility, it precedes responsible action. Prayer is only useless when it’s used to serve self-righteousness; lip service.

It’s ignorant to quickly condemn as Islamophobia, any link made between Islamic terrorist attacks and Islamic ideology. It’s hypocritical to then turn around and quickly condemn Republicans and the NRA, when the tragic event involves guns and not Islamic Terrorism. It’s ignorant for those same people to condemn others for offering sympathy and moral support to the victims.

Only sociopaths and the ‘malignantly narcissistic’ [ii] would think that offering sympathy and support to the victims of a horrendous crime is useless.

Johann Goethe was right, ‘nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action.’ ( Maxims & Reflections, 231)

As anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth, rightly said, ‘prayer is the beginning of an uprising, [a revolt] against the disorder of the world.’ [iii]

#prayfor #ourworld #prayfor #SoutherlandSprings


[i] Niebuhr, R. 1945, Discerning the Signs of The Times

[ii] George K. Simon Ph.D. In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People (p. 51)

[ii] Barth, K. CD Fragments IV:4 See also the whole John 14. Verse 13 in particular: ‘Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.’ – Jesus.

Image: The Deserter, Boardman Robinson Wikipedia.

This article was originally published at