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Prayer-shaming isn’t about attacking prayer. It’s about calling out empty platitudes.

Prayer shaming isn t about attacking prayer It s about calling out empty platitudes

Prayer shaming isn t about attacking prayer It s about calling out empty platitudes

Prayer shaming isn t about attacking prayer It s about calling out empty platitudes


Both politicians and plebes have been offering “thoughts and prayers” in response to tragedy for ages. It’s a stock phrase in both sympathy cards and verified tweets. So what’s going on with this new resentment? Emma Green, writing in the Atlantic, dubbed it “prayer shaming”:

There’s a clear claim being made here, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers. These two reactions, policy-making and praying, are portrayed as mutually exclusive, coming from totally contrasting worldviews.

And with that, the battle lines were drawn. Conservatives took umbrage at the “prayer shaming,” liberals took umbrage at the umbrage, and the cycle took on familiar contours. How comforting to be able to argue about language from these worn trenches, rather than to confront the raw, unfolding horror of the shooting itself.

Green subtly put her finger on a real phenomenon: America’s declining patience for expressions of civil religion, particularly in elite quarters. (Full disclosure: I contribute regularly to the Atlantic.) Conservatives are exquisitely tuned to this long decline, but it’s not new, and it’s reflective of a country in which the fastest-growing religious identification is “no religion.” Almost one-quarter of Americans now say they are atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular,” according to Pew, so it’s to be expected that we’re hearing more skepticism over politicians’ expressions of piety.

And let’s be clear: This week’s prominent “prayer shamers” aren’t really against prayer. They’re against platitudes. The problem is when “thoughts and prayers” are the only response to a public event that calls for political action. It’s hard to imagine that even the most dedicated atheist objects to Ted Cruz kneeling by his bed at night to pray for the victims of yesterday’s shooting. What Cruz chooses to do in his bedroom is his own business. The issue is that politicians like him continue to offer thoughts and prayers and nothing else: no assault weapons ban, no universal background checks, no federal gun registry.

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Good points; platitudes have always irritated me.

It's amplified by social media. Used to be just politicians who uttered platitudes.

Now lots of people on Facebook do it too. 

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