During a Fox & Friends discussion of the mass shooting in a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday that claimed at least 26 lives, host Ainsley Earhardt found what she takes to be a silver lining — at least the victims of the fifth most-deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history were gunned down in church.
Earhardt and other Fox & Friends hosts were interviewing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) when Earhardt shared the gist of a conversation she said she had with her Fox News coworkers.
“You know, we’ve been reporting that this shouldn’t happen in a church,” Earhardt said. “But I was downstairs talking with some people that work here that we all talk about our faith and we share the same beliefs. We were saying there’s no other place we would want to go other than church, because I’m there asking for forgiveness.”
“I feel very close to Christ when I’m there,” she continued. “So, I’m trying to look at some positives here and know that those people are with the Lord now and experiencing eternity and no more suffering, no more sadness anymore.”
Abbott responded to Earhardt’s story by saying that he was “inspired” by the “unwavering” faith the families of Sutherland Springs victims demonstrated to him in the hours after the massacre.
“What they replied upon in that moment in time and during the course of the vigil later on was both their faith, but also the necessity for us to come together under one God, to purge evil, and to reply upon the love that God provides,” Abbott said.
While Fox News hosts and the governor of Texas have abundant faith in God, they apparently have little in the ability of lawmakers to do anything to prevent mass shootings before they happen, or make them less deadly when they do.
During an interview with CBS on Monday, Abbott was asked how guns can be kept out of the hands of dangerous people. He replied by indicating he thinks prayers are the best way.
“You work with God,” he said.
During another part of the CBS interview, Abbott compared the military-style rifle reportedly used by Devin Patrick Kelly on Sunday with vehicles like the one used in last week’s attack in New York City — his argument being that guns don’t kill people, but people do.
“We have evil that occurs in this world, whether it be a terrorist who uses a truck to mow down bikers in New York City, whether it be a terrorist who uses bombs or knives to stab people, or other terrorist who use vehicles, whether it be in Nice, France, or any other place in the entire world, who mow down people,” Abbott said.
Fox & Friends wasn’t the only right-wing outlet to suggest that the fact the Sutherland Springs mass shooting happened in a church was a blessing in disguise. On Monday, The Federalist published a piece headlined, “When The Saints Of First Baptist Church Were Murdered, God Was Answering Their Prayers.”
For those who don’t want their prayers answered in that way, prominent Republicans like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and President Trump propose packing heat. In the hours following the massacre in Sutherland Springs, both Paxton and Trump suggested that instead of gun control, the best way to prevent future mass shootings in churches is for parishioners to come to church armed.
Many pastors, who are often on the front lines of advocating for gun violence prevention, disagree. “Rather than continue to push for more instruments of death, which are unable to keep us safe, we must rather start to call for a more peaceful existence that limits the proliferations of instruments of death,” Rev. Michael McBride, the director of Urban Strategies for a faith-based campaign against gun violence, told ThinkProgress’ Jack Jenkins.
UPDATE (11/6, 3:05 p.m.): In a statement addressing the controversy generated by her comments, Earhardt stood by what she said.
“I do believe there can be positives in death,” she said. “Christians believe death is when they enter into the afterlife — a place without pain, suffering and away from the evil that takes place on earth like we saw this past weekend. I know one day I will take my breath and if I am in His ‘house’ when that happens, I pray my family can find a bit of solace and peace knowing that is where I saw Jesus for the first time.”
You can read her whole statement below.