Some people use the phrase “thoughts and prayers” to express sympathy when they simply can’t do anything else to help, and I have no problem with that. But other people insist prayer itself is basically a bullet-proof shield, and one of them is running for Congress in New Jersey.
The mass shootings wouldn’t be happening if the country had not “deteriorated to this point morally,” according to Republican Steve Lonegan, who’s running to represent New Jersey’s 5th congressional district. He made the comments on a radio interview on Thursday.
Lonegan added that he would be a “big advocate” for returning prayer to the classroom.
“My own wife has been a Catholic school teacher now for 37 years, and they have to do drills for this kind of a purpose — how to shut down the classrooms,” he said. “It’s just so disturbing that society has deteriorated to this point morally that we’re confronted with this. And if there’s ever a time to return prayer to the classroom, now’s the time. That’s something I would be a big advocate for. Fortunately in my wife’s school they have prayer in the classroom.”
While students have always been (and continue to be) free to pray to any deity they wish whenever they want, what Lonegan is talking about is forced prayer to a specific Christian God. It would not only be a violation of the separation of church and state, but a violation of the secular principles on which our country was founded.
More importantly, his “solution” isn’t a solution at all. There is absolutely no evidence that prayer can stop bullets and multiple tragic church shootings that show it definitely does not. The fact is that people like Lonegan are part of the problem because they respond to mass murders with nonsense about God and Jesus, as if the latter can prevent the former. All the while, people like him who are in office do nothing of substance to fix the problem.
Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, many students have spoken out against congressional Republicans. They’re aiming their pointed rhetoric in the right place because they know prayers are useless and that other nations don’t have this problem precisely because they’ve taken sensible approaches to weapons designed to kill.
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