A New York Daily News cover is causing controversy in the wake of the San Bernardino, California mass shooting that left 14 dead and 17 injured. The NY newspaper’s provocative cover calls Republican politicians out for continuing to send their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims of mass shootings instead of passing legislation to prevent them from happening. The NY Daily News asserts that these politicians’ tweets about thoughts and prayers are empty gestures, but others believe that the NY paper is in the wrong and have accused the publication of “prayer shaming.”
The Thursday cover of the NY Daily News features a provocative headline that reads, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” It’s surrounded by tweets from House Speaker Paul Ryan and four GOP presidential candidates: Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, and Rand Paul. Each Republican politician responded to Wednesday’s mass shooting at Inland Regional Center in Bernardino by letting the surviving victims and their family members know that they are praying for them. The NY Daily News points out that Republican politicians have responded similarly to previous mass shootings, and so far their tweets and prayers haven’t been very effective. According to ABC News, the U.S. is now averaging more than one mass shooting a week.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 3, 2015
“Prayers aren’t working,” the NY Daily News writes. “White House hopefuls on the Democratic side of the aisle called for stricter gun laws in the wake of the shooting in San Bernardino that left at least 14 dead.”
“But after yet another mass shooting in America, GOP presidential contenders were conspicuously silent on the issue of gun control.”
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both implored Americans to take a stand against gun violence, and Martin O’Malley even called out the National Rifle Association. Meanwhile, GOP candidates Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Mike Huckabee joined the aforementioned Republican presidential hopefuls by tweeting their own formulaic mass shooting responses about thoughts and prayers.
“We cannot go on with losing 90 people a day to gun violence…We need to take action now.” —Hillary — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 3, 2015
Congress must pass sensible legislation that prevents guns from being used by people who should not have them.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 3, 2015
These politicians didn’t just get called out by the NY Daily News. According to NBC News, other GOP critics used the trending Twitter hashtag #thoughtsandprayers to call the politicians out for failing to offer any solutions to the country’s gun problems. Think Progress contributing editor Igor Volsky used the hashtag to shame politicians who were tweeting out their “thoughts and prayers” to the San Bernardino mass shooting victims after receiving donations from the NRA.
— Joe Koss (@joekoss) December 3, 2015
Others used the #thoughtsandprayers hashtag to criticize the NY Daily News cover. Some critics complained that the paper was attacking the faithful, and the Washington Post agreed — it accused the NY Daily News of “prayer shaming” Republican politicians who always respond to mass shootings by reminding their constituents that they are men of faith.
“Perhaps the No. 1 problem with prayer shaming is that it is misunderstands the purpose of prayer,” Callum Borchers wrote. “As any prayerful person will tell you, God isn’t a wish-granting genie. People don’t pray because they expect God to make their lives — or the world — perfect. They make requests, sure, but they understand that God might have different plans. Mostly they pray for God to influence them, not the other way around.”
Think Progress writer Zack Ford responded to Brochers’ thoughts about the NY Daily News headline by agreeing that prayer isn’t a bad thing, in and of itself. However, if a politician is relying on the power of prayer alone when it comes to matters of life and death like mass shootings, this is definitely problematic.
“The result of prayer isn’t bad. It’s just nothing (and thus wasted time),” Ford wrote. “If you want change, advocate for change. Look for solutions like the many successful gun violence prevention measures that other countries like Australia and the UK have passed and demand your lawmaker support them. We’ve had a lot of tragedies and a lot of prayer, and the prayer just ain’t changing a d**n thing.”
In other words, there’s nothing wrong with praying to make yourself feel better. However, there’s no proof that it will make the world around you better.
According to CNN Money, there was a pretty big backlash to the controversial NY Daily News cover and story on social media. Most who were angered by the cover agreed with Borchers’ claim that it was “prayer shaming” the faithful. However, NY Daily News Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich contends that the point of the provocative “God Isn’t Fixing This” headline was not to mock prayer — critics are misconstruing its meaning.
According to Rich, the NY Daily News cover is simply trying to make the point that “most GOP politicians have offered nothing but empty platitudes and angry rhetoric in response to the ongoing plague of gun violence in our country.”
The NY Daily News attempted to stir up further controversy Thursday night by referring to NRA’s Executive Vice President and CEO, Wayne LaPierre, as “Jihadi Wayne.”
In October, New York Daily News writer Linda Stasi called for the State Department to list the NRA as a terrorist organization. Stasi pointed out that there are now “428 times more American deaths by gun than deaths by foreign terrorists,” and she claimed that the NRA is partially to blame because it continues to lobby for lax gun control laws. According to the New York Times, all of the firearms used during the San Bernardino mass shooting were purchased legally.
Now the NY Daily News is criticizing Wayne LaPierre for refusing to comment on the San Bernardino shooting — he hasn’t even reached out to offer his thoughts and prayers to the victims.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]