Thoughts and Prayers

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a video called “The End of Prayer Shaming” that had been shared on Facebook by a former teacher of mine. The video was made by Catholic high school students, and immediately I was intrigued because I anticipated what it might entail: “Christians are being discriminated against,” “We can’t pray in public anymore because we get judged,” or “Let’s take a stand against those prayer-haters.” I wasn’t wrong, but there was even more to the video than that, and the message shocked me.


The video begins by outlining some of the tragedies and acts of horror that have occurred in the last 20 years. After they’re brought up, the cards read: “Many ask ‘where was God’ when that shooting happened?” “Until we realize we’ve told God to leave.” It goes on to show that we have stopped welcoming God in public, on TV, and in schools. Although they address a heavy and serious topic, I still wonder why it’s permissible for God to allow for such tragedies just because we advocate for and in some rare cases are successful in achieving secularism in society.

From there, the video naturally shows how the Christian students are discriminated against because they’re told not to send their thoughts and prayers to victims and families. I’m not sure who told them this, as “#thoughtsandprayers” are still extremely popular on every platform every time there is a disaster, but those who say this probably don’t care what you think or pray about within your own head. In my case, I’m more concerned with whether or not you are doing more than that, or if you find thoughts and prayers to be sufficient. How helpful is it to send your thoughts and prayers to the God that allowed (or caused) it to happen instead of sending money or giving your time?

The students in the video dub this phenomenon “prayer shaming,” using examples such as athletes who are judged for showing their faith or college campuses where students are discouraged from public prayer (side note: my college constantly encourages prayer, which I don’t believe in, and although it annoys me more than I can express, it doesn’t offend me.). The video encourages viewers to aid them in allowing God back into America (was he ever not allowed? And since when can mere humans tell him what countries he can even be in?), as it is, after all, on nation, UNDER GOD. Right?

I’ll let you come to your own conclusion.

In all seriousness, one of the things I hate the most about the recent heartwrenching tragedies and shootings is the way that people try to replace real solutions with hashtags and posthumous prayers. What we need is preventative measures, whether that be more rigid gun laws or greater public safety. Saying that thoughts and prayers do nothing for us isn’t discrimination against Christians, it is a way to promote palpable actions that can keep unnecessary deaths from occurring, one after another after another.


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I Am an Atheist (4)

25 Replies to “Thoughts and Prayers”

  1. How does it feel having to pretend to pray for something as an atheist? One of my Christian friends sometimes offers me to ‘say grace’ before having lunch with him. It feels odd but if I decline then he will ask awkward questions lol.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I used to bow my head and play this game to see if I could hold my breath throughout the whole prayer and not open my eyes. I usually lost.

      Nowadays if I’m with family I play along a little harder but at school I don’t participate. When my marching band prays as a group (which I find so weird) I try to shuffle to the back as a way to respectfully not participate.

      Like

      1. Yeah a prayer isn’t good enough to God if you can hold your breath for the entire time 🙂 I might try that sometime haha.
        Another weird thing my old church did was to all read out Bible verses out loud together off a projector screen, sometimes getting the men and women to say different parts. When everyone speaks with the enthusiasm of a sloth the results end up being somewhat hilarious and slightly creepy.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. just this weekend we were invited to a memorial service for the mother of a friend, who had died a month ago. without really paying a lot of attention, I said of course, how could we not.
      the words “service” and “church” did not register.
      There were hymns. There were readings. There were biblical thing-dos and the minister blessed us all collectively and separately. Not a time to protest. and we stood and sat as directed, but we passed on the prayers, and the hymns.

      It was unsettling, to be in a church after 45+ years, I was far more comfortable out of it.

      But I guess the point I’m making is, there are times when as atheists you do sorta hafta bite the bullet and behave like an adult, and this was one of them. As her son said to me afterwards, with a glint in his eye, “you got prayed all over today, didntcha.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. A fair enough point. I don’t really have a problem with people praying over me, after all, what does their prayers actually do? But it becomes an issue when they expect me to pray for things. Still, it does feel weird now I guess lol.
        Hymns are another weird one, but I find it easy to quietly sing and daydream for a bit. But as you say, pretending isn’t nice.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember See You At The Pole Day at school, where Christians would gather together around the American flag to pray. I don’t remember seeing any representatives of any other faiths there. Every now and then, the President declares a national day of prayer or holds a prayer breakfast. If anything, America is very open to Christian prayer specifically and tolerates non-christian prayer generally.
    But so many stop where they start: with prayer. I guess they figure the big guy upstairs will accept their prayers and slowly move our nations levers toward a gun-free society or something. But to really do something about our gun problems, it’s going to take action on our part.
    Sure, God probably could have taken down the wall of Jericho on prayer alone, but he had the Israelites march around it and make a whole lot of noise. I think it’s time for people to step up and start making noise. This is not okay.
    After Sandy Hook, citizens in my state bought up millions of dollars worth of guns, perhaps they were afraid that if anything could get us to fix our broken gun law system, the mass murder of children would do it. Turns out even that wasn’t enough. How many more lives must sacrificed on the altar of guns before we tear down this idol for what it is; a false god? How many mass shootings will it take before our voices are heard? When will they listen to our cries of “never again” “enough is enough” “no more”?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Poor widdle Christians. They have to suffer sooo much. Not only from “prayer shaming” but oh my! Their “god” is being removed from the scene … NOT!!

    As for your money-making question? Quite frankly, I think it cheapens a blog. But that’s just my personal take on it. In the end, it’s your blog …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The only shaming I see going on is when they pray AT you whether you want them to or not. They try very hard to make you feel embarrassed or guilty because you refuse to participate. Much like the beggar with the tin cup, only this time he’s chasing you down the street and shouting at you.

      I have been prayed at by Mormons, Witnesses, and ministers of unknown faiths, only because I was in the room when it happened and couldn’t escape. It’s a dreadfully uncomfortable feeling.

      Prayer–and god–should be a private matter.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m sure the NRA loves this video!

    Your putting ads and all on your blog wouldn’t deter me one bit from reading your posts. Go right ahead. Hell, I might even buy you a cup of coffee! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. In Zen Buddhism they don’t pray, but use chanting a lot, which is the same useless effort as Christian prayers. However, if the prayer or chanting somehow brings you or motivates you to a mindset of ‘doing’ something locally, such as cleaning your room or being thoughtful and nice to your family, then pray and chant like a maniac. If you believe your prayers and chanting will benefit the victims of Las Vegas and are heard by God, then..good for you, but probably not. Although it is a harmless feel good act.

    I wouldn’t be offended if you monetized. (maybe a little jealous because you reached 500 followers and I deleted my blog for lack of interest!! LOL) I feel the same as most of the comments here. I never click on ads or donate buttons in blogs.

    What about Patreon?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. First, “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Alliegence in like 1954. So, many people want to keep something that wasn’t originally important.

    Secondly, I’m cool with either option of monetization you chose. Neither WordPress ads nor a donate button are intrusive to me. I don’t even mind tasteful affiliate links. My problem is with “sponsored content” posts, where it’s like the blogger is specifically trying to write an ad that the company would like (as opposed to “here’s this cool item that I found all on my own that I think you should try out”). And I read a lot of papercrafting blogs that are specifically ads for their affiliated companies which never feel as forced as the random “sponsored post” that other bloggers resort to!

    Congrats on 500 followers! I really enjoy reading your blog and you deserve to make as bit of money while doing it. Being a regular, popular, blogger is a job, despite what other people may say!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Some notes:

    (1) Prayer shaming.

    That is something that I would never do. I may think that prayer is pointless (talking to a brick wall). But I don’t try to embarrass people about it.

    In all honesty, prayer shaming is something that people do to themselves. Back when I was a Christian, public praying often looked to me like public bragging (“Oh, what a great Christian am I”). The people who do this should read Matt 6.

    When teachers lead their students in prayer, I suspect that many of the children are thinking “Weird, that these adults speak this meaningless mumbo jumbo.”

    (2) The video.

    I wonder if the participants realize how ridiculous they look. They need to get their facts straight.

    (3) Blog followers.

    I follow your blog through my RSS reader. But that won’t show in the list that wordpress gives you. I’m not using the wordpress way of following, because I don’t need the extra email. Following with an RSS reader works better.

    You may have more followers than you realize.

    (4) Ads

    I’m okay with ads. But I am unlikely to click on them. I’m accustomed to ignoring them. Similarly with “Donate” buttons — they don’t bother me, but I rarely click on them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Huh, I’ve never really looked into RSS feeds and how they work. That’s interesting!

      And I feel with my family how you said children would feel when their teachers lead them in prayer. We always pray (out loud) when we get our food at restaurants and it is really embarrassing. Sometimes the waiters/waitresses will try to bring our food or drinks while we’re praying. I just want to apologize to them for being so awkward in public.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. whether or not you choose to run ads is strictly up to you. I don’t come for the ads, on any site, I come for the content. They can be annoying, and while I don’t have it, many people have and use adblockers. But it’s all up to you.

    As to the prayer shaming, I find this ridiculous. Frankly the only reason I can see why people object to public prayer (the kind where you stand in a public place and pray) is that it makes them uncomfortable, me included. It says, very loudly, “I AM A CHRISTIAN AND IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT, YOU ARE STUCK WITH IT” and they throw the right to free speech stuff at you.

    It’s not illegal, but it comes off as pretentious, and is definitely offensive if you happen to not be whatever they are. And I resent the hell out of any mixed group where someone suddenly says, “let’s all pray”, grabs your hand, and begins imploring ‘the lord’ to do whatever it is they want him to do.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. exactly. It’s annoying and embarrassing, on about six different levels.

        The only time Grace was ever said at our house was one Xmas, when my aunt and her husband came for the festivities. Uncle Joe was one of those gentle, silly men, I loved him to death. He managed to look very solemn and said, “this year I would like to say Grace, if no one minds.” and we all bowed our heads, and waited, and suddenly he bellowed, “GRACE, LET”S EAT!”

        and we did.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. That reminds me. As a ten year old, I spent a few day visiting a family who were very strict about saying grace before meals. And the ten year old in that family had his own version. It was “two, four, six, eight; bog in, don’t wait.”

          Liked by 2 people

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