US Army Officer Defends Prayer after Texas Church Shooting

Vice President Mike Pence was one of many recently defending the virtue of prayer in the face of unusually acerbic criticism following the church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas:

“I’m a believer. I believe in prayer and I know that at this moment of such heartbreak and loss in that community that what most Americans are most able to do is pray for those families,” he said.

He said that praying for the victims and their families is “making a difference in their lives.”

In that same vein, US Army Lt Jeremy Hunt wrote a column at FoxNews yesterday that took to task those critics who have mocked or attacked such prayers. In an article entitled “Texas church shooting: Keep my thoughts and prayers out of your political agenda,” Hunt wrote:

Somehow, as our country mourns the loss of innocent life, there’s a new wave of indignation directed at people who dare to pray for the victims.

That’s right. As well-intentioned Americans pray for their countrymen who were just gunned down while worshipping God, gun control advocates are bashing them for their expression of faith…

Hunt accurately notes the rise of acceptability in attacking Christians for praying after a tragedy is likely associated with the increasing acceptability in attacking public religious expression in general:

As America grows increasingly hostile to Christianity, inappropriate and insensitive rhetoric regarding expressions of faith has become more acceptable. It seems the same people who pride themselves on advocating religious and cultural “tolerance” are the least tolerant when it comes to American Christians.

There’s probably a time for discussion about those otherwise a-religious people who suddenly feel the need to express “thoughts and prayers” after tragedy. But Hunt was pointing at those who were more specifically attacking not just calls for prayer, but even faith in general — including the faith and prayers of the victims.

It is common — and socially acceptable — to denigrate Christians and the exercise of their faith. In fact, it has been denigrated as ‘bad’ or even ‘evil’ for so long that few even notice (and fewer have opposed) calls for restrictions on the public exercise of Christians’ faith. The idea that Americans are free to exercise their religion so long as they ‘keep it in church’ is surprisingly common — despite the explicit contradiction with the US Constitution.

Hunt makes a final astute observation:

You can’t legislate evil away…The most perfect legislation (if one ever existed), still leaves our country in need of the Almighty.

Given the unpopularity of religious freedom today, and of Christianity in particular, it’s refreshing to see such a mature and bold perspective.

Even more comforting is the realization this maturity and courage regarding liberty and religious freedom comes from a young active US military officer. Perhaps there’s hope after all.