The Atlantic

The Case for 'Thoughts and Prayers'—Even If You Don't Believe in God

After a tragedy like a mass shooting, prayer is not an indulgent retreat from reality, but a responsible reaction to it.
Source: Chris Wattie / Reuters

Many Americans seem eager this week to see the phrase “thoughts and prayers” die a good platitude’s death. After the worst mass shooting in U.S. history took the lives of 59 Las Vegas concertgoers Sunday night, a sentiment meant to express solidarity sounded to some like cold comfort. When by elected officials who could feasibly pass tighter gun-control laws, the phrase struck people as not only irritating, but also potentially dangerous: What if uttering this hollow but nice-sounding sentiment allows legislators to bypass the “real” work of passing better laws? What if it allows all of us to avoid the concrete political work of pressuring them to

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic11 min read
The Friends Who Listen to BTS Together Stay Together
“Fans are often prone to saying, ‘This band saved my life.’ BTS made us realize we have to save ourselves.”
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
Trump Supporters Don’t Make Chants About Men
Where the president’s fans once called for a female opponent’s imprisonment, now they are longing for another woman to be literally banished from the country.
The Atlantic3 min read
The Art of Self-Defense Explores the Absurd Horrors of Masculinity
The satirical karate movie starring Jesse Eisenberg posits that these days, men do not have to dig deeply to find their inner brutes.