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

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