On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen traveled to Sutherland Springs, Texas to meet with the families and the community just beginning to come to terms with the realities of Sunday’s mass shooting at First Baptist Church that left 25 people dead and dozens injured. He is expected to attend a prayer vigil on Wednesday evening in remembrance of the victims, in addition to sitting down with local law enforcement officials.
On Tuesday, the vice president, who is a devout Christian, gave an interview to Fox News’ Shannon Bream in which he discussed the controversy over the use of the term “thoughts and prayers” in the aftermath of this unthinkable tragedy and the role of prayer in his own life.
“I just want to assure the families there that they have the support of the American people,” Pence said of his impending visit. “They have the prayers of the American people.”
When Bream asked Pence about the criticisms that have been leveled by the likes of Keith Olbermann and Steven King against those who have publicly called for prayers these last few days, he explained his position on the subject in relation to his own faith.
“I’m a believer,” he affirmed. “I believe in prayer and I know that at this moment of such heartbreak and loss in that community that what most Americans are most able to do is pray for those families.”
Pence was quick to point out that advocating for prayer is not to be confused with advocating for inaction. He said he and President Donald Trump support the tireless work of local, state, and federal authorities who are trying to piece together the motives and actions of suspect Devin Kelley prior to the rampage. He also reiterated that it will be important to understand what, if any, protocols were broken that may have led to certain parts of the alleged shooter’s history not showing up on background checks.
With all of that in mind, the vice president maintained that prayer is and will always be a necessary part of the grieving and healing process.
“It takes nothing away from our determination to get to the bottom of what happened, to understand the why, to determine whether or not there were errors along the way,” Pence concluded. “But right now, I truly believe that covering those families in prayers is making a difference.”