By now we all must have all seen the NY Daily News headline in the wake of yet another deadly shooting: God Isn’t Fixing This. I must admit, as a person of spiritual conviction, I found myself nodding in complete agreement with the headline. The message is simply this: after numerous mass shootings in America, the people in Congress who have the power to enact new legislation on gun violence are simply hiding behind supplications. This will inevitably be followed by another obstructionist agenda, rather than meaningful political change.
The Republican-led Congress has had a history of choosing strictly an obstructionist, rather than progressive strategy. Since Obama came into office in 2008 their policy has had mainly one agenda: fight Obama and everyone on the left who agrees with him.
This obstructionist strategy has been visible throughout the recession and post-recession economy. It all started with a hesitancy to enact stricter punitive measures on the richest 1%, whose predatory lending measures caused the recession in the first place. It continued with attacks on healthcare reform, including a ludicrous “Green Eggs and Ham” filibuster that led to the government shutdown of 2013.
It persisted into the area of immigration reform. GOP lawmakers were abrasive to the idea of extending opportunities for undocumented immigrants and their children. The GOP has likewise taken a militant stance against Planned Parenthood, using propaganda over “bartered and sold” body parts to attack an organization that provides reproductive health services to women. Their strategy is simply to defund it, citing religious reasons rather than the individual right of a mother to chose to terminate her pregnancy. They have also fought against climate control and new environmental regulations, standing tooth and nail against any scientific leeway.
And lastly, if that isn’t quite enough, we have the gun issue. The GOP Congress has adamantly opposed any minimal form of gun legislation, despite repeated mass tragedies that now number 355; more days than have passed in the year 2015.
Since 1966 the U.S. has played host to 31% of the world’s mass shootings. We have not just the potential, but also the moral obligation to change this. And many Congressional lawmakers are placing their obligation in prayer alone. What they NY Daily News headline says is that Americans are tired of seeing this. They’re tired of watching their representatives do absolutely nothing but hide behind vain hopes that people with hostile intentions will magically lose the ability to commit crimes as long as we talk about the 2nd Amendment, or as Speaker Paul Ryan put it, we enact a bill that deals with mental illness rather than gun violence. The problem is that people with mental illnesses are more likely to inflict mass casualties with the aid of a military-grade assault weapon.
Prayer and continued abstinence from gun reform only symbolize a reluctance to act: to placate the opposition with empty words and no action. Prayer, along with action to prevent another tragedy represents a moral, Christian virtue. But, what would one expect from a Congress that has built its reputation not on progressivism, but obstructionism? I highly doubt these are Christian principles coming from the people who pride themselves most on being Christian.
What we are seeing is a stagnant Congress telling us that God is going to take care of everything. While they fight and filibuster every bill they believe that grace is sufficient to respond to a growing problem. Killing happens to be banned in the fifth commandment. If you believe life is sacred in the womb, then it is also sacred in the classrooms and public spaces where life is being threatened. Unfortunately, gun interests trump life: the false “Eastwood” perception that an armed civilian will always be ready to dispatch a determined assailant. Or that a cleverly concealed handgun will stand against AK-47s, bulletproof tactical gear, and in the case of San Bernardino, improvised explosives.
What the NY Daily News headline told us is that pious words without works are meaningless in the scheme of policy. What America needs more than anything right now is a Congress willing to take action, rather than simply promise divine consolation. That consolation will come when it finally decides to move forward.