"2nd and 4th Model Pocket revolvers" by Millermpls2 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Beyond ‘Thoughts and Prayers’: How the Christian Right’s Politics of Providentialism Keeps America from Addressing Gun Violence

Aug 14, 2019

By Chrissy Stroop

Another day in these United States, another mass shooting. Before the country could even begin mourning the 21 human beings senselessly killed at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on August 3rd, we learned that another nine human lives had been snuffed out in the wee hours of August 4th outside a popular bar called Ned Peppers in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Republican leaders continue to block any meaningful action from being taken. The heat wave continues. Department stores are experiencing the back-to-school rush. Water continues to be wet.

Republican obstruction of any realistic solutions to America’s numerous interrelated problems has become a depressing dog-bites-man story. But for the Senate Majority Leader (who has transitioned on Twitter from #MoscowMitch to #MassacreMitch) to continue to pull this off, he needs loyal foot soldiers to deliver messaging that appeals to the GOP base of white evangelicals, radical traditionalist Catholics, other Christian extremists, and white nationalists. And what this messaging, familiar to those of us who grew up in the Christian Right, tells us about the “soul” of the Republican Party is not pretty.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Republican, seemed to place most of the blame for mass shootings on violent video games. This is a position that, while reductionist and deflecting from the fact that gun control is demonstrably effective, I cannot dismiss as quickly as I once might have in the aftermath of Gamergate and what we’ve learned about rampant misogyny and white nationalist recruiting in online gaming spaces. In the same appearance, however, Patrick also lamented that “we won’t even let our kids pray in our schools,” including this supposed lack of school prayer among the “many factors that go into these shootings.”

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