There was an attention-grabbing admission by the executive editor of The New York Times the other day where he publicly admitted that his newspaper – and others – do not adequately understand religion and people of faith. “We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives,” Dean Baquet confessed. I realize this admission comes as no surprise, but it reminds us how out-of-touch the media can be on matters of faith.
Take, for example, the recent coverage of the armed robbery of soon-to-be Missouri’s First Lady, Sheena Greitens. She was robbed at gunpoint by three teenagers as she sat in her car outside a St. Louis coffee shop Dec. 5. Law enforcement captured the fleeing trio later in the evening.
The next day she and her husband, Governor-elect Eric Greitens, held an extraordinary news conference. Extraordinary because of what they said. Press releases from the night before indicated that Sheena Greitens was safe and unharmed as media pursued the rest of the story via police reports. But the Greitenses stepped forward and what they said about prayer, forgiveness and law and order deserves reflection.
Sheena Greitens opened the press conference by thanking “everyone for the prayers” that had been offered in their behalf. There was not one mention of “prayers” in any newspaper accounts I read. Then Governor-elect Greitens offered brief comments, thanking people for their “prayers” and divulging that he and his wife prayed the night before with their two children, offering “thanks to God” for protecting Sheena and for the brave law enforcement officers who apprehended the gunman and alleged accomplices. Again, prayer was ignored.
Friends, we are about to have a governor and a First Family who believe in the power of prayer. To the media this must seem strange, but to the millions of Missourians who are people of faith, the power of prayer is understood. As Greitens spoke about prayer, Philippians 4:6 came to mind: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Though the press conference lasted only three minutes, our governor-elect – voice breaking and nearly moved to tears – made some additional comments that should be noted:
• The governor-elect expressed obvious love for his wife. “As a husband, my first thought was for Sheena’s safety. My second thought was for justice.” Notice the priority. Then he made an understandably emotional comment that sent the liberal media into a tizzy: “I’m glad that the men and women of law enforcement found these young men before I did.” The liberal editorial board at the Post-Dispatch obsessed: “But the suggestion that our governor-elect might have contemplated administering vigilante justice on the spot is chilling. Doubly chilling considering that he made guns a central focus of his campaign. Triply chilling considering that he is a former Navy SEAL.”
Governor-elect Greitens obviously did not contemplate vigilante justice because he was not at the scene. His priority after the incident was to care for his wife and children following a traumatic experience. Nor were guns the central focus of his campaign, though he stressed support for the Second Amendment. And as a veteran, I find the editorial board’s comment about his Naval service offensive. They make it appear that veterans are gun-toting vigilantes. It is this sort of irresponsible claptrap that disgust Missourians.
• Greitens expressed thanks to the law enforcement officers who responded. In short, blue lives matter to him. “We are grateful for the men and women of law enforcement. Their response was swift and skilled, and we thank God for their presence tonight.” Two things here: Government authorities do not bear the sword in vain, thus punishing evildoers and Greitens’ acknowledgment of a higher power.
• Greitens spoke of forgiveness and concern for Missouri families. “Faith teaches us to forgive,” he said, adding that he plans to meet with the families of the three teens, acknowledging that their lives have been changed by the incident as well. “I feel for their families,” he added. “If we continue down our current path, it will continue to lead to more disorder, more lawlessness, more chaos, people living further and further apart from each other, divided by fear.”
I am thankful God protected Missouri’s soon-to-be First Lady and that our governor-elect acknowledges God’s presence, taking matters of concern to Him in prayer. I am thankful our governor-elect understands forgiveness and acknowledges the bravery our law enforcement exhibits every day.
I wish the media would “get it.”