Whenever a seemingly inexplicably tragedy robs society of innocent human life, the grief-stricken frequently express their condolences through "thoughts and prayers."
But recently this practice has come under criticism.
The blow back against prayer first surfaced after the San Bernadino terrorist attack, when many in the media and the Democratic Party began deriding these faith-based expressions as insufficient to counter the threat posed by firearms.
After the massacre Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the attacks on prayer have only intensified.
CNN's Don Lemon offered the most pointed criticism of Americans offering their thoughts and prayers.
"These God-fearing Christians were in church," Lemon said during an extended commentary Monday night. "They were already praying. Thoughts and prayers did not stop an oversight from the justice system which enabled a guy who attacked his stepson and assaulted his wife from getting a gun. Thoughts and prayers didn’t stop a troubled person from buying assault grade weapons that took the lives of 26 people in an instant."
Headline News' Erica Hill began a segment: "Since January 1st, just this year alone, there have been 307 mass shootings in this country. Every time, lawmakers have sent their thoughts, they sent their prayers, they sent their condolences. So what’s been done? Not a lot."
MSNBC's Katy Tur, responding to Texas Governor Greg Abbott asking for Americans to "pray harder" sniffed, "Is that all we can do here? Just pray?"
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) thundered on the Senate floor: "My friends, this must change! Thoughts and prayers are not going to stop the next mass shooting. Merely talking about something, something for the mentally ill to obtain guns isn’t going to stop the next deranged person with hate in their soul from committing yet another mass murder. And the Second Amendment does not mean that Americans should have to risk getting shot because they walk down the wrong street in a city or decided to go to a music festival in Las Vegas or a nightclub in Orlando or an elementary school in Newtown, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a church on Sunday in Texas. After each of these horrific acts of violence, what happened here in Congress? Nothing.”
Senator Chris Coons (D-N.Y.) likewise attacked politicians for offering their prayers.
“As has been the case tragically so often, we see a pattern in elected officials saying we need to send our thoughts and prayers to the families, to the victims, but then not proposing any action," Coons told Erin Burnett. "I think it’s important that as we all try to come to grips with this latest horrific mass shooting, one of the most brutal shootings in a house of worship in America's history, that we also look straight on at the fact that the Congress should not be paralyzed and unable to act in the face of yet another event."
The father of a journalist who was killed in 2015, Andy Parker, accused mocked politicians offering their prayers as "canned responses."
"You hear the typical canned response from the gun lobby politicians, you know, the typical thoughts and prayers," Parker told HLN's Carol Costello. "Our traitor-in-chief today said this is a mental health issue, not a gun issue. And then, of course, they follow that up with, of course, if you have any new gun laws that would strip law abiding citizens their rights in the name of protecting innocent Americans. And that’s just all bs. And that’s what makes me angry.
Rep. Pramilia Jayapal derided Rep. Paul Ryan for offering his prayers to the victims, tweeting: "They were praying when it happened. They don't need our prayers. They need us to addreess gun violence crisis & pass sensible regulation [sic]."
After the San Bernardino attack, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal sneered, "We are past the time for platitudes and prayers." Sen. Chris Murphy likewise said, "These thoughts and prayers and sympathies have become a mask for inaction." And Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said "Our thoughts and prayers are not even close to enough."
Comedy Central's Trevor Noah used a monologue during Hurricane Harvey to say money is more effective than prayer.
"Send the people of Texas your thoughts and your prayers. But first, send them your money. How about that? Yeah, send the money."