Faith leaders and conservative politicians have spoken out against the backlash by journalists, entertainers, activists, and others following the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday that left six dead.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said prayer is the only lasting source of hope and freedom, adding that “nothing Washington is doing will matter until we acknowledge and address the moral decay and brokenness plaguing our culture.” Curtis Houck of the Media Research Center decried the media coverage as “horrendous,” noting a proximity bias and lack of compassion due to a traditional liberal, secular world in which much of journalism resides.
President Biden said in a speech that “[a]s a nation, we owe these families more than our prayers. We owe them action,” while Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee asked people to pray for those affected by asking God to favor Tennesseans specifically mentioning school shootings.
Gun control activist Shannon Watts called out Lee’s call for prayers: “If thoughts and prayers alone worked to stop gun violence, there wouldn’t have been a shooting at a Christian elementary school… It’s your actions – including weakening the state’s gun laws – that’s killing kids in Tennessee. SHAME ON YOU.” Left-wing sports writer Mike Wise agreed with this sentiment.
Progressive talk show host David Pakman faced criticism after mocking the Covenant School community for not “praying enough” following Monday’s shooting that left six dead.
In a since-deleted tweet, Pakman wrote: “Very surprising that there would be a mass shooting at a Christian school, given that lack of prayer is often blamed for these horrible events. Is it possible they weren’t praying enough, or correctly, despite being a Christian school?”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz responded to those who said “thoughts & prayers aren’t enough,” tweeting: “The Covenant School shooting was horrific. For everyone who says ‘thoughts & prayers aren’t enough,’ I AGREE. Ask why EVERY SINGLE SENATE DEM voted against my bill doubling police officers in school. One armed officer could have stopped this lunatic, BEFORE a child was killed.”
Civil Rights attorney Alejandra Caraballo commented on the situation with a now-limited tweet: “Thank god Tennessee protected the children from the so-called horrors of drag and gender affirming care so they can be shot up at school by an AR-15 instead.”
Media coverage of the story has come under scrutiny, with commentators such as Fox News political analyst Harry Houck complaining of “subtle smears” in some reports. He noted that if it had been a MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporter who had committed a mass shooting, “the media coverage would be teeming with stories making broad generalizations about Christians and conservatives, suggesting they’re a danger to the rest of the country and should be thought of as such”.
In spite of these issues, several Christian leaders and speakers have stood firm in their belief that prayer is the best way forward. Gianno Caldwell tweeted in response to the Nashville Christian school shooting: “Prayers to the victims families… There is an attack on our faith and our children which MUST come to an end.”