Saturday, December 5, 2015

More On "Prayer Shaming"

Jumping on anyone who publicly expressed a religious feeling after the San Bernardino massacre. Where are we heading?
We are all free to say what we think, and must be, for without this freedom we will no longer be America. More on that below. But you always hope what is said will be constructive, helpful, maybe even at some point heartening. You have a responsibility as an adult to do your best in this area.
But as soon as the story broke Wednesday afternoon, and while it was still going on, there were accusations and bitter words flung all over the Internet. The weirdest argument came almost immediately. A person named Chris Murphy, a U.S. senator representing Connecticut, sent out what struck me as the most manipulative message of recent political history...“Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.”
Wow. You might think he was aiming this at President Obama, who when he was a popular president with an overwhelmingly Democratic House and Senate did not prioritize gun control. But it was clearly aimed at all those Republicans and religious people who were praying, saying they were praying, and implicitly asking you to pray, rather than doing what they should do, which is supporting the senator’s cause.
There was a time when I would not have even obliquely referred to criticism of a Democratic politician from Connecticut, as they are above such by Protestant clergy in the state, as it would be tantamount to my committing career-icide.  But I'm disturbed by this trend to belittle people of faith on social media, especially by politicians and journalists.  The average crank on Twitter I don't care about, but when political messaging and media reports are so strongly and mutually coordinated, as they are these days, I become concerned that this is the beginning of a social construction that will limit Christian participation in the public square.