For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785

Speaker Ryan Must Address Texas Tragedy with Evidence and Action, Not Prayer and Prejudice

November 07, 2017

The Center for Inquiry, one of the world’s largest secularist organizations, responded today to the remarks of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on The Ingraham Angle on Fox News, in which he championed prayer as the means for addressing national crises, and attacked “the secular left” as “sad,” claiming that that they “don’t understand faith,” and declared them responsible for the nation’s polarization.

“House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of the country’s most powerful lawmakers, has a responsibility to lead Americans in proposing solutions to these types of mass shootings,”, said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of CFI. “But rather than propose a legislative response grounded in facts and evidence, he has chosen to scapegoat the nonreligious to divert from his own ineffectiveness.”

In discussing the criticism over his repeated failure to propose or even mention legislative action in the wake of violent tragedies like the recent shooting massacre in a Texas church, Ryan told Ingraham, “It’s disappointing. It’s sad, and this is what you’ll get from the far secular left. People who do not have faith, don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say.”

“And it is the right thing to do, is to pray in moments like this because you know what? Prayer works,” Ryan asserted. “And when you hear the secular left doing this thing, no wonder you’ve got so much polarization and disunity in this country when people think like that.”

“There is no evidence that intercessory prayer has any effect on earthly events, as numerous controlled studies have shown, and it won’t save anyone from future atrocities,” said Robyn Blumner, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “So instead of dismissing legitimate criticism, the Speaker should work toward evidence-based solutions to the pressing national issue of gun violence.”

“Individuals and communities are free to pray, worship, and heal as they wish,” said Blumner. “The Center for Inquiry always has and always will vigorously support that right. At the same time, the religiously unaffiliated are the largest group of voters of all belief denominations, and they want more than platitudes when the times demand real-world solutions.”

According to Pew Research, the religiously unaffiliated, also known as the “nones,” topped all other denominations to become the largest voting bloc in 2016 at 21%, surpassing Catholics and White Evangelicals, both at 20% each. About one quarter of all Americans are nones (23%), just behind White Evangelicals.

“Speaker Ryan’s imperative is to use his influence and power as our highest ranking legislator to create real, positive change that keeps all Americans safe while upholding our nation’s highest ideals. That he chooses this moment to belittle secular Americans, or Americans of any religious affiliation, is what is truly sad.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at