MANCHESTER – More than 400,000 people have viewed a short video produced and published online by students and administrators at East Catholic High School in response to a recent surge in “prayer shaming.”
In the wake of mass killings in San Bernardino and other places, some news outlets criticized public figures who said their “thoughts and prayers” were with the friends and families of the victims. “God isn’t fixing this,” retorted The New York Post in a front page headline, implying that prayer isn’t helping.
Don’t tell that to the kids at East Catholic.
The video, just over two minutes long, shows students holding hand-lettered signs that deliver the message that if God seems to have been absent during these shootings, it could be that “we’ve told God to leave,” that “he’s not welcome in public.”
Students in college are asked to hide their faith, one sign says. The signs urge people of all faiths to pray – for victims, families, for our First Amendment right to “pray freely,” for our safety, for peace, for God to be “allowed back into our lives... without the Prayer Shame.”
Jason Hartling, principal of East Catholic, said, “We know from comments on our Facebook page that there are people from North Carolina and Tennessee and Florida” who have viewed the video.
Comments are positive, saying that it is inspiring, powerful, hopeful, affirming and “something that needed to be said,” he said.
“We wanted to exert the idea that prayer is a powerful piece, that it’s something not to be ashamed of, that it’s something to be proud of,” Mr. Hartling said.
Students have reacted positively to their newfound fame, he said. “There’s also been some great dialogue. I’ve had some students that have sat in my office and they have talked through their perspectives. Some students were concerned that maybe we didn’t say enough. Some students were concerned that they didn’t particularly share the view of the video. So it’s been a positive dialogue,” he said.
That dialogue is part of the educational process at East Catholic, he said. “The dialogue is powerful. It’s something that we really encourage at the school,” he said.
“Our kids are acting every day. They are out in the community and they are serving. We have three big projects going on right now just for the Christmas season, and the idea of prayer and action together, I think that’s a really powerful piece,” he said.
Mr. Hartling appears at the end of the video, holding a sign that says: “Please – share this video along with a prayer today.”
You can view the video at https://vimeo.com/148643920.