Republicans, Democrats criticized over San Bernardino prayers and gun reform
Some have been accused of 'prayer shaming,' others of hypocrisy
I can't believe I'm saying this, but: I'm impressed by the New York Daily News. Wow. <a href="https://t.co/YXNai5TIRh">pic.twitter.com/YXNai5TIRh</a>—@saladinahmed
Many U.S. politicians online offered their prayers, as did many everyday people, in the hours following Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 people and wounded numerous others.
Thoughts & prayers are with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SanBernardino?src=hash">#SanBernardino</a>—@LindseyGrahamSC
Our prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders in San Bernardino who willingly go into harm’s way to save others—@tedcruz
The politicians were often Republicans and generally more conservative figures who have been pushing against gun control legislation in the U.S. Congress. Many accused them of hypocrisy, saying that prayers alone could not solve the problem of gun violence in the United States.
Try this: Stop thinking. Stop praying. Look up Einstein's definition of "insanity." Start acting on gun violence prevention measures.—@ZackFord
Your "thoughts" should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your "prayers" should be for forgiveness if you do nothing - again.—@ChrisMurphyCT
The New York Daily News's Wednesday newspaper ran the front-page headline "God Isn't Fixing This," highlighting the tweets of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and Paul Ryan.
The first three politicians are Republican candidates for U.S. president, while Ryan is Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is dominated by Republicans.
A journalist with political news blog Think Progress went a step further by highlighting politicians who had offered their prayers and yet had allegedly received funds from the National Rifle Association. The NRA lobbies for gun rights and to prevent regulation of guns by the government.
Praying for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SanBernadino?src=hash">#SanBernadino</a>.—@rep_stevewomack
Got $4,000 from NRA during the 2014 election cycle to address gun violence by "praying" <a href="https://t.co/geXCXRDHDS">https://t.co/geXCXRDHDS</a>—@igorvolsky
These accusations were soon met with criticism of their own, referred to as "prayer shaming" by the Atlantic. Some began to feel that the response to prayers were becoming too all-encompassing a criticism, as if the prayers themselves were a sign of hypocrisy.
"There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa," wrote Emma Green at the Atlantic.
"That people who care about gun control can't be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence."
The sentiment was echoed online as people clarified that prayers on their own merit no criticism, but actions do.
To be clear: Offering prayers is not the problem. They can be a balm and a sign of good will. But politicians' actions are relevant too.—@scalzi
Guys. Don’t mock the sincere offering of prayers. Mock legislative inaction or hypocrisy. But offering a prayer is not offering NOTHING.—@anamariecox
On the other hand, while Republicans were quick to offer prayers, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidates for U.S. president, called for action against gun violence.
I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now. -H <a href="https://t.co/SkKglwQycb">https://t.co/SkKglwQycb</a>—@HillaryClinton
Mass shootings are becoming an almost-everyday occurrence in this country. This sickening and senseless gun violence must stop.—@BernieSanders
"We should never think that this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn't happen with the same frequency in other countries," said U.S. President Barack Obama in an interview with CBS.
Statements like these led others to decry these more liberal-leaning politicians as politicizing the tragedy, especially in the wake of Democrats like U.S. Senator Chris Murphy who criticized those who prayed.
So now it's wrong to mourn after a mass shooting but ok to jump to politicizing a tragedy. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LiberalLogic?src=hash">#LiberalLogic</a>—@NickyMcGinniss
Shame on every single one of you for politicizing the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SanBernadino?src=hash">#SanBernadino</a> shooting!!!! The bodies aren't even cold yet!!! Have you no respect??!!—@KSWillOfficial
Like the accusations comparing prayers to hypocrisy, saying any call to action was tantamount to using a tragedy for political gain was met with its own form of critique.
Many pointed out that given news outlets like the New York Times have found that on average, more than one mass shooting occurs each day in the U.S., there may be no ideal distance from a shooting to discuss gun violence.
Instead of assuming we're politicizing THIS mass shooting, assume we're talking about the one from last week. Or week before. Or before that—@heyprofbow
listen, calling for gun control in the wake of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SanBernadino?src=hash">#SanBernadino</a> isn't "politicizing" it, it's trying to stop the next shooting from happening.—@nathanleighsays