Tennessee Official Defends Offering ‘Heartfelt Prayers’ For Shooting Victims

In the wake of the latest deadly school shooting, pundits and politicians on both sides of the aisle once again engaged in a debate over the most effective ways to prevent such violent acts.

A number of anti-Second Amendment activists demanded more gun control and many railed against offers of prayers for the victims and their families.

Despite the fact that the latest shooting occurred in a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg donned a shirt with the phrase “thoughts & prayers” crossed out.

For Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch, however, prayer is precisely what the current situation requires.

In a press conference shortly after the massacre, which left three children and four adults — including the shooter — dead, Rausch sent “heartfelt prayers” to everyone affected.

“Now, I know there’ll be people who want to criticize us for prayers,” he acknowledged. “But that’s the way we do that in the South, right? We believe in prayer and we believe in the power of prayer. And so, our prayers go out to these families.”

Among those who criticized the idea of offering “thoughts and prayers” in response to such a tragedy was Barry C. Black, the chaplain of the U.S. Senate, who did so while delivering the body’s opening invocation on Tuesday.

“When babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers,” he said, before reciting a phrase commonly attributed to 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

Even some on the left have expressed the belief that prayer can be an effective deterrent to school violence — including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who delivered remarks to that effect last month.

During an interfaith prayer breakfast, the Democratic mayor lamented the trajectory that society has taken in the more than six decades since the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited sanctioned prayers in public schools.

“When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools,” Adams said.

He went on to denounce the widespread calls within his own party for strict separation of church and state, adding: “State is the body, church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.”