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America’s mass delusion

Surprisingly, the strategy of praying to God is not stopping the mass shootings in the U.S.


 
Police investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2017. (Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

Police investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2017. (Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

Is America’s national Thoughts and Prayers Strategy (TAPS) no longer working? This is a troubling possibility to consider, but it may be time to ask the question.

Politicians, members of the media, and of course the public, quickly responded to the recent horrific shooting of several people during a baseball game in Alexandria, Va., including U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise, with a flurry of “thoughts & prayers”. President Donald Trump himself immediately assisted in TAPS efforts with his own tweet indicating that he too was doing his part by thinking about the victims and mentioning them in any communications he had with God.

Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that TAPS may not be delivering the results we would expect from appealing to an omniscient and all-powerful deity. For example, in spite of the well-executed TAPS implementation following the Alexandria incident, there was almost immediately afterwards another tragic shooting in a San Francisco UPS facility, killing two. Cleary something is amiss.

In a typical year, over 13,000 Americans will be killed by guns. To put that into perspective, that is six times more than the total number of American troops killed in Afghanistan over the last 16 years. America’s gun homicide rate is 25 times the average of other developed countries. There is now, typically, one mass shooting per day in the United States. Over the course of the year, 45 of those will be school shootings.

This data is very surprising when you consider the power of beseeching God. You would think parting the Red Sea, or smiting the Egyptians with a plague of frogs, would be far more difficult than just reducing gun violence. It is worth noting, however, that most well-known examples of successful celestial intervention in earthly affairs are over two millennia old. This marked drop-off has gone largely unnoticed in American political circles and may be worth exploring in more depth.

The problem, if indeed there is one, could be denominational. Are Jewish prayers as effective as Protestant prayers when it comes to preventing future shootings, or healing existing victims? For obvious reasons, we know that the prayers of a southern Baptist will have no prophylactic effects on a Muslim in New Jersey. But will they protect Catholics? These are questions we should possibly start asking.

Perhaps we are not praying enough. Church attendance is down considerably in the United States. This presumably has a direct impact on both the frequency and quality of prayers. If this turns out to be the issue, the government could look at improving public transit links to places of worship, or perhaps even subsidizing sermons as a means to end gun violence.

The other issue that should be considered is whether the wrong people are praying. For example, when a notoriously adulterous politician tweets out his “thoughts and prayers”, does that carry more or less weight than a nun who silently mouths the same words over her rosary? There really should be better metrics to track this.

Is it possible we are saying the wrong prayers or in the wrong way? Not enough effort has been made to determine if TAPS is equally effective when tacked on to a press release as it would be as an addendum to the Lord’s Prayer. And, have you noticed that you rarely hear a politician implement TAPS in Greek (Σκέψεις και προσευχές) or even Hebrew (מחשבות ותפילות)? Could that be the reason 93 Americans are still dying every day from gun violence?

There are so many factors that need to be taken into account if we want to get to the bottom of this. Kneeling or not? Eyes open or closed? Does incense make a difference? Out of respect for the hundreds of children who are shot and killed every year in the U.S., we must answer these questions.

The White House, perhaps in co-operation with some of America’s leading research centres like MIT or Stanford, should launch an urgent nationwide investigation into why TAPS is not working. A series of randomized control trials in various states would be easy to organize and may produce invaluable data. Likewise, the government could test the TAPS methodology against other pressing issues. Does it help fix America’s crumbling infrastructure? Can it reduce the deficit? Will it fix Obamacare? Has the Pentagon considered a robust prayer response to the North Korean missile program?

With so many daily deaths, so many unnecessary tragedies, America’s leaders must do whatever is necessary to fix TAPS. If they fail at this, the United States would be forced to consider some very dire alternatives. In the United Kingdom, for example, when they decided thoughts and prayers were no longer working, they had to implement handgun laws that reduced shooting deaths by over 50 per cent. Likewise, Canada, Australia and Europe neglected TAPS and as result are forced to rely on firearm controls and background checks to keep their gun violence levels at 1/25th those in the United States. If America doesn’t address the TAPS problem soon, this might happen to them too.


 

America’s mass delusion

  1. Agreed. ‘Thoughts and prayers’ are a waste of time. It’s giving up responsibility.

    • Good way to avoid answering the tough questions.

      Loved the satire.

    • I’m a Christian and I agree. Too many people of my faith would rather delegate responsibility for their own, easily fixable problems to God, instead of putting in the effort and sacrifice to improve themselves or outside problems. Actually, this is a flaw that just about everyone in the 1st world has regardless of their faith. Anytime a tragedy occurs (mass shooting) due to a problem that could easily be fixed through legislation (rampant gun ownership), rather than actually admitting that the problem exists or doing anything to fix it (calling local politicians, holding rallies), they put something on their social media to show “support” (“Thoughts and Prayers,” “My heart goes out to…,” “#LocationOfViolence”). And they wonder why change never happens in this country.

      Also, since Americans are pretty much never going to give up their guns, maybe they should ban bullets instead. Gun-owners keep their little friends and a means of self defense, while gun fatalities decrease. It won’t be perfect, but it’s the closest we can get at this point. The only other option would be if a more liberal state, like one in New England, passed legislation strictly restricting firearms availability, and that this could perhaps pass through to other states before it eventually becomes national law.

      • So you think that ‘Praise the lord and pass the ammunition’ is a better course? Somehow I think the Lord wouldn’t want us getting ourselves into situations where ‘ammunition’ is a first thought. It sort of fies, smack dab, into a couple of His. or Her commandments and a Golden Rule or two.

  2. Oh and don’t forget the all important social media hashtag so that you can say you did something o help and assuage your conscience

  3. I guess a knee-jerk is still a jerk.
    Ban forks, and end obesity.

  4. Dear Mr. Gilmore.
    I’m sorry to say but the atheistic leaders of society suffer from the same delusion.

    How quickly we forget Sam Harris’ (recognized public voice of the atheism movement) article “The Riddle of the Gun”, written after the Sandy Hook tragedy, in which Harris “profoundly” explains that the answer to gun violence is — you’ll never guess — MORE GUNS!

    Sadly you will find mass delusion on both sides of the debate.

    • We don’t have any atheist leaders of society……unfortunately.

      And in any case being an atheist has nothing to do with views on guns.

      • You might wish.
        The charitable organization he founded, the advisory boards he sits on, the atheist conference he speaks at and the millions of books he’s sold points to a recoginzed and in demand leader.

        Why don’t you read his article and critique it? Do you agree with his philosophy?

        • He doesn’t speak for any atheist but himself.

          • Right. Let’s ignore the countless numbers that donate to his charities, buy his books and attend his conferences. Let alone the hundreds that have quoted his research.

            Is it easier for you to ignore the facts then confront the delusion?

          • Sigh

          • Chip you keep expecting me to review your reading choices, and I’m not interested. Choose your own books.

          • Than why comment in the first place? I’m not making you read anything? You’re the one that’s all pro-education, pro-facts, pro-science.
            I can’t believe you’ve never heard of Sam Harris? Contemporaries with Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. These are world renown new atheists who are very well respected in the non-religious communities.

            And please — please use your critical thinking skills. It’s not a book — it’s an ARTICLE. You are making yourself look foolish.

          • Your mind has wandered off again……go and look for it.

          • Emily’s comments are mostly statement without supporting facts / evidence (fake news). When she gets agitated (which is almost all the time) she starts to bully people using demeaning comments, unsubstantiated facts, degrading statements, and generally being rude. Reminds me a lot of DT … :-/

      • You don’t think any right-thinking ‘leader’ who expects to get elected is going to tell you what they really believe do you? They get elected by telling you what you really believe.

  5. You would never see Maclean’s use a headline like this when talking about Islamic terror attacks in Europe though, right?

  6. I appreciate the satire but I take thoughts and prayers to be an expression of condolences to survivors and the families of victims, not as a solution. We need action and solutions and we can also express condolences.

    • Some people have ‘prayer lists’….it isn’t just an expression.

      • I was referring to paragraph 2 of this article, trying to keep it short!

  7. As a Canadian living in the U.S., I can tell you that Canada’s mass delusion is that its opinion
    or the opinions of its writers and media matters in the US or anywhere in the world for that matter.
    Sorry Gilmore

    • Yup, you’re a nothing and a nobody from nowhere.

      Kindly stay in the US.

      • Hey Emily..time to give up watching the Mary Tyler Moore reruns along with your cats and
        the Saturday night ice cream binge and get a boyfriend. Maybe then you won’t be such
        a bitter old maid

  8. i was living in brunei darrusalam in 1997 when el nino dried out the entire region and fires engulfed us all in a massive cloud of haze. the brunei governments solution was to circulate a memo instructing all students to pray a certain prayer from the koran. several weeks later the haze was just as bad if not worse. new instructions were circulated. since the haze came from outside, prayers should be said outside. and guess what, the haze disappeared!!! what was missing in the follow up to the prayers success was that there was a multinational fire fighting mobilisation from several surrounding countries. funny, right? but has a familiar underlying ring to it.

    • I missed the part about the people who ordered the prayers, announcing that the prayers had been answered. Maybe the faith was so great they din’t need to do that. Or mention the obvious solution you noticed by having a ‘clear mind’? But think about it; rather than having choking masses dirtying-up the square in front of the legislative assembly – demanding that that “multinational fire fighting mobilization” work faster, or, egad, that those legislators give the mob hoses and shovels and deploy an army of ‘national’ firefighters, having them think they were helping was, probably a ‘no brainer’.

      I remember during the Fort McMurray situation a ‘tribe’ of firefighters from South Africa’ decending on an Alberta airport and do a ‘fire dance’ for the news media. They left after a couple of days (without getting near the fire) when they found out there was no down payment waiting and nobody to pick up the hotel bills. I guess that ‘hocus-pocus’ stuff works on multiple levels? Maybe they had a ‘better run’ in Brunei.

  9. Prayer give me comfort, consolation, and hope. I’m sad that in responding to tragedies in the USA, satire tears down an activity that is an imperative according to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. The nasty tone of this column speaks to the cause of gun violence in the USA; that is, disrespect for others, life, and how Jesus taught us to live.

    • Not everybody believes the same as you do.

      • I’m pretty sure anybody who is inspired by the ‘beauty of their weapons’, don’t.

  10. Mass delusion is caused by propaganda.

    Propaganda was developed by Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernay. People who reverse engineered psychosis.

    Propaganda works by making an issue emotional, so facts don’t matter, and then by replacing facts with lies to effect the desired psychosis.

    If you are thinking “us vs them” instead of “why is there conflict” you are probably a victim of propaganda.

    • Propaganda has been around since the beginning of time and has nothing to do with Sigmund Freud.

      • Just google “Edward Bernays propaganda”

        You will find his mother was Anna Freud.

        After initiating the official US dept of propaganda, still in effect today, Bernays wrote in 1925

        “it is possible to “regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies.” These new techniques of regimentation of minds, he said, had to be used by the intelligent minorities in order to make sure that the slobs stay on the right course. We can do it now because we have these new techniques. “

    • Bernays didn’t discover that people are driven by their feelings, he just used the notion to sell ‘shit’. That the ‘commodities’ are political as much as they’re at the mall, these days, shouldn’t be a surprise.

      What is a surprise is that we seem to forget that every maverick, ‘shooter’, assassin, revolutionary or redeemer was motivated by the concept that he, or she, wasn’t ‘getting their fair share’, despite what society was telling them.

      Bernays would have been the first to admit that in every herd of sheeple there are always a few who ‘just don’t get it’.

  11. I enjoyed reading your article. The one flaw would be that we will never know the power of prayer in these cases. Unfortunately terrible things have happened. But what was prevented. Were more deaths and hardships prevented because of prayer.? Interesting article nonetheless.

    • Why did they happen at all to religious people?

  12. What makes a potential mass-murderer change his , or her, mind? What makes a gunman, or woman stop shooting before the clip is empty? Unless you’ve been in the gunsights and had this blessed event happen you, you probably wouldn’t ascribe this ‘miracle’ to the Divine Entity as much as a momentary ‘brain fart’ or simple ‘twist of fate’. There but for the grace of Gord, go you, my fiend, or I.

    Unless we’re carrying.

  13. Becoming aware of our propaganda inspired delusions is only half of the solution.

    The other half is recognizing that we are still under attack 24/7 and that the propaganda is redoubled as we near exposing the truth.

    Those who hand us our velvet chains have everything to lose when we act with common sense.

    Fear not. Only the truth will set you free.

    • In addition, consider this popular analogy.

      In the movie, The Matrix, Keanu awakens from his delusion.

      How would he have fared if there was no one to awaken him or to care for him as he transitioned to reality?

      Such is the state of the myriad of our propaganda inspired mass delusions.

      As people awaken, they are typically rejected as “conspiracy theorists” by the deluded masses.

      Sometimes they snap. Sometimes they fall in with the wrong crowd, which may be the only crowd that accepts them.

      Sometimes they thrive with the knowledge and faith that the truth will set them free.

  14. I wonder if this column is Gilmore’s way of acknowledging his dinners on building a new conservative party was self-promotion and not at all related to the conservative movement? No one who truly believes in a federal conservative governing option in Canada mocks people of faith with phrases like “omniscient and all-powerful deity” as used in the column.

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