The recent comment by letter writer Michael Traynor “Prayers not Guns” is wishful thinking.

I am afraid all the prayers in the world will not help to lessen the amount of guns used daily.

Three mass shootings in one day in Chicago … in fact every day there is a shooting killing innocent children and people of all ages.

Unfortunately, the wise compassionate god is not watching.

We need urgently better and strict gun control laws, background checks, restrictions on ghost gun kits available on the internet,

responsibility for the sales of guns and laws to make sure guns do not end up in the hands of criminals or the mentally ill.

This also seems like wishful thinking.

Susanne Thiel

Foster Cit

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(19) comments

Terence Y

Ms. Thiel - if the powers-that-be allowed law enforcement to enforce our nation of laws, especially the penal code, we wouldn’t need to worry about the number of guns or stricter gun laws that only serve to penalize law-abiding citizens. Those issues will straighten themselves out. BTW, violence comes from people, not guns.


Pray as if your life depended on it. In this case, it clearly does. If hands are placed together in prayer, they can't pull the trigger. Does the letter writer think prayer and action are mutually exclusive? I sense some anti-religious bigotry.


Do you really believe that folding your hands in prayer will prevent someone else from pulling the trigger? Instead, do something with your hands that CAN make a difference! Or, use your feet, which is harder if your hands are folded! With your “advice”, one is more likely to lose one’s life! I am a knife attack survivor, where folded hands rather than a well placed right hook, might have killed me.


Yes, providing "someone else" does the same.


Then, how could you make sure that everyone or anyone with ill intent, would fold their hands? Pray for it?

Ray Fowler

Good morning, Susanne

Do not be "afraid all the prayers in the world will not help to lessen the amount of guns." Be hopeful that those prayers will help bring the changes we need to keep guns out of the hands of people who are causing the horrific violence you mentioned in your LTE. We can also pray for changes across our country that will make a difference in communities like Chicago where gun violence is prevalent.

He is watching.


Ray: If your “He” (or “She”?) is watching, why isn’t more done to alleviate the misery in the world, - including climate change and what Catholic priests have been doing to defenseless youngsters for hundreds of years?

Ray Fowler


Misery in the world... yes, there is plenty. Does God cause that misery? No.

You can choose to believe in God or not... that choice is yours. We might want to break down the misery into suffering and evil deeds. People who make choices that bring suffering into their own lives can be redeemed. God's grace is there for them. People who make choices to inflict suffering on others through evil deeds is a different matter. There is hope for those who suffer at the hands of others through prayer to God. You oppose religion and believe that it has no place in our world. Mao and Joseph Stalin would agree with you. Why do you think they tried to rid their dictatorships of religion?

There can also be questions about suffering that follows conditions we cannot control like natural disasters. That suffering can be alleviated through faith.

Well, Jorg, you declined to respond to remarks by Carol Swain, so I will bring her back into the conversation in a different way. She was born into extreme poverty and violence. Her suffering was too much to bear and she attempted suicide. However, things turned around. Professor Swain attributes that turnaround to making new choices and redemption through God. Her transformation is inspiring < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUl3ibKO38k >.

Back to misery in the world... did you know that more than one third of the world's population lived in extreme poverty in 1990? Now, only about 9% of the world's people live on less than $1.90 a day. How did that happen? You cannot deny that religion was not a part of that transformation.

In our own history, religion inspired the reform movements of the early 1800s that included abolition. That movement played a key role in abolishing slavery.

In 2014, I spent some time teaching summer school in rural China. Before I returned home, I visited an orphanage outside Beijing. The orphanage was not funded by the Chinese government; it was sponsored by a Christian organization founded in the United States. The orphanage served children suffering from extreme disabilities and who had been rejected by their families. While the CCP looked the other way with respect to a Christian organization helping those unfortunate children, even those "godless communists" could see God at work.

He is watching.


Ray: You said: “Mao and Joseph Stalin would agree with you. Why do you think they tried to rid their dictatorships of religion?” Competition! They wanted monopoly for their religion of dictatorship, where they set themselves up as visible “gods”. Simple as that.

You are right, Ray, that religion has done a lot of good, and so has other humanitarian efforts without reference to a Father figure way up high. Fine with me that people find inspiration, hope and consolation in religion, but don’t push it on the rest of us who don’t need it, neither for inspiration, hope or imaginary rewards. You can be good without a “god”, as proven by the more secular countries in the world today. Where I come from, we had religion in school, an hour a day, 6 days a week from elementary through high school, which left all of us atheists, partly because we realized that the biblical stories were all made up.

Ray Fowler


It appears you have tightened up your argument against God in a way that you are insulated from anything that might threaten your assumptions. That's your choice.

Religion was not competition for the worst mass murderers in world history... Mao and Stalin... who killed tens of millions of their own peoples. They wanted total control. Religion threatened that control but it did not seek to replace the dictators' control. A religion that offers salvation certainly is a threat to a dictator bent on controlling the populace.

I'm glad humanists like yourself want to do good in the world, but how do we understand what "good" means without a sense of morality? Where do humanists get their sense of morality if not from an external agent? I ask this question because with a humanist belief in all things human instead of the divine, humanists determine their own set of ethics. That is their choice. There is no requirement that a particular set of ethics has to recognize goodness or compel the humanist to act in a good way.

In the end, the humanist accepts that their passing is something finite. That's it... nothing follows. The religious person accepts that there will be something beyond their passing. The humanist and religious person will shed tears for the memory of a deceased loved one. The humanist and religious person then make their own choices. The humanist will walk away from a once vibrant but now lifeless form of his or her loved one, but the religious person walks away with the knowledge that their once vibrant loved one lives on.

No comment on Carol Swain?

Your hero, Barack Obama, ended many, many speeches with a "God bless America" salutation. At the conclusion of his 2012 election victory speech, he said "We live in the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you America. God bless you. God bless these United States."

Jorg, why would he say that?


Ray: Not even Obama would have succeeded in this religion obsessed country if he had admitted to be a non-believer. You ask: “Where do humanists get their sense of morality if not from an external agent?” What a silly, derogatory and disrespectful question. Where do you get your morality from? “God” speaking to you, or what? The most public religious people have never impressed me with their “morality”, while the very vast circle of friends, old classmates and acquaintances I am “blessed” with, demonstrate real morality, showing that you can be good for goodness sake, and without bragging about it. Upbringing, education and intelligence are important factors. Don’t forget that religion got us both George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump! Imagine how much better off we would have been with their Democratic challengers! And, how do you rate Trump’s “morality”, backed by the evangelicals?

Terence Y

Ray, let’s not forget a few of Obama’s other gems:

1. “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.”

2. "We're the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad."

3. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period.”

Ray Fowler


So, you're saying Barack was being dishonest in pretending to invoke God's blessing when he made speeches? Are you saying that Barack was being untruthful? Are you suggesting Barack is an atheist like you and that he has no religious beliefs? Where and how did you come to possess such knowledge?

No... my question about where a humanist would acquire a sense of morality is neither silly, derogatory nor disrespectful. It is an honest question... and a question you did not answer. I'll ask again... where did the humanist sense of morality come from?

Then you asked me, "Where do you get your morality from?" Before I could respond, you answered for me... God.

I'm glad you have a circle of friends who like to do good. That does not surprise me. If you ask one of them why they do good in the world, they might say something like, "It's the right thing to do." OK. But what makes it the "right" thing to do? There is no requirement for them to do good... Those moral underpinnings come from somewhere and you can be a humanist without them. So, Jorg, "Where do you get your morality from?" Guess what? The answer is the same... God. You don't have to accept those moral underpinnings. That's your choice. It looks like you have made the choice to accept the morality but not the morality's source. Again, that's your choice.

Ugh... back to politics. Really? I cannot speak for evangelicals who continue to support the Donald. He is the first president to declare that he is pro-life. Perhaps that issue and his pro-life stance is so important to the evangelicals that they are willing to accept his imperfections. Maybe. As an aside... this is only a recommendation... you might want to stop thinking less about Donald Trump. It can't be good for your heart.

Carol Swain?


Ray: No, you are the dishonest one, twisting my words about Obama!

Since you must believe that your godly morality is superior to my nature inspired behavior, give me some example of where you believe I must be failing. Something! Anything?

Ray Fowler

C'mon, Jorg

It's all here in this thread. Look at the time stamps.

1:09 I asked why would Barack invoke "God bless America" in his speeches.

1:50 Your response? He could not get elected if he said he was a non-believer.

3:16 I ask whether such an omission might be deceptive on Barack's part, and if he is a non-believer... when did he share that information with you.

I did not twist your words. Go back and read the exchange.

I have to duck out, but will answer your other question, soon.


Ray: I said: “Not even Obama would have succeeded in this religion obsessed country if he had admitted to be a non-believer.” Can’t you read plain English? Where did I suggest that Obama was bluffing? I said “if”, not that he was a non-believer. I wouldn’t know. Your twisting of words doesn’t impress me of being very honest, - which has to do with morality, doesn't it?

Ray Fowler

OK, Jorg

Jon Mays should charge me more money for my subscription... I'm just having waaay too much fun with your commentary.

Your words were not twisted. Remember, you're the one who said religion is being forced on non-believers. So, I introduced Barack into the conversation by asking why does he end speeches with "God bless America." You responded with not even Barack could get elected if he acknowledged being a non-believer. Your observation is more than likely true, and it suggests if he was a non-believer, then he was being deceptive. I didn't twist your response. I followed with a question about whether Barack was being dishonest by saying "God bless America" and if he secretly was a non-believer, how would you know? It's not twisting anything. Of course, you provided no reply to the question.

Here's what I think... Barack is a believer. His faith is between him and God. I also think it bothers you as an atheist to admit one of your heroes is a believer. I could be wrong.

Next... your accusation that I am being dishonest in my response re: morality is classic. Often times, you will avoid an answer by saying you don't have the time or patience to respond. Other times you will dismiss a question by declaring it is nonsense. OK... but if a question is nonsense in your view, say why it makes no sense. Then, there are times we hear crickets... just no answer, e.g. Carol Swain. The last arrow in your quiver is the personal attack. I'll admit it's easier to call someone a name or accuse them of dishonesty instead of answering their question... another way to sidestep an issue. Oops... I almost forgot. There has also been some occasional censoring of comments made by someone else.

Ray Fowler

Goodbye, Jorg

This will be my last word on this topic.

I try to answer all questions sent my way, but I'm sure I've missed some. You assumed that I believe my God inspired morality is superior to your nature inspired behavior. That's a good assumption. Yes to that.

Then you asked for me to identify a failing on your part... Well, Jorg... I only know you through online correspondence. Do I think you are a good person? Absolutely. Knowing we all have failings, I cannot judge your failings whatever they may be.

I know the regulars in these pages can sometimes get a tad too much impassioned about a subject, and a response may come off as harsh or insulting. I have been insulted in the past but choose not to respond in kind... sometimes that's a challenge. However, like you, I certainly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

I wrote a guest perspective piece four years ago about violence of the tongue < https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/guest_perspectives/three-forms-of-violence/article_6efac8d2-5f80-11e7-9eb4-5362c1049fcd.html >. Our words have meaning and they can inflict pain. We should guard against doing so.

If you have a failing, it is a failing we all share. We can cause pain to others with our words and when we do so, we can injure ourselves. "Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves." Proverbs 11:17

The good news is that we can overcome our failings... all of us. My personal guidance for overcoming failings comes from a different place than where you might find such guidance... but the failings can be conquered.

We can eliminate violence of the tongue from these pages. "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24


Why just priests? Pretty selective in your outrage.

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