Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is urging Christians in the United States to "take hold of our country" through prayer as the nation continues to mourn the loss of more than a dozen children slaughtered in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday.
Patrick, a Republican, appeared on Fox News Wednesday to discuss the mass shooting that killed 19 elementary school children and two teachers. Patrick said the tragedy and the political reaction is evidence that "we are in a sick society where we are at each other's throats all the time." He called on the American people to ask themselves "who we are."
"I believe we're a nation of godly people and godly people need to pray," he said. "2 Chronicles 7:14, everyone should read tonight. Go to the middle of the Bible, turn right, 2 Chronicles 7:14. Christians have to pray for God to heal our land and we have to take a stand."
The Bible passage reads: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal our land."
Patrick acknowledged that not everyone is Christian but stressed that those who are Christians "need to take hold of our country."
"And we do that through prayer," he said. "You cannot change the culture of a country without changing the character of the people, and you just cannot change character without changing a heart and you can't do that without turning to God."
Patrick's interview with Fox News came after Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke disrupted Gov. Greg Abbott's press conference Wednesday.
O'Rourke used his unscheduled remarks to condemn his opponent in the upcoming Texas gubernatorial election for failure to enact what he views as common-sense gun control laws.
"The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing," O'Rourke proclaimed.
Using expletives, Uvalde's Republican Mayor Don McLaughlin told the candidate to leave.
McLaughlin criticized O'Rourke for making a "political issue" out of the tragedy. As O'Rourke exited the auditorium, he told Abbott, "this is on you," insinuating that his failure to enact gun control laws caused the mass shooting.
Patrick, who was about to speak at the press conference when O'Rourke interrupted, rejected the idea that stronger gun control laws would have prevented the tragedy. He lamented the state of political discourse in the U.S.
"This problem is a much larger problem than the infrastructure, the gun issue, [and] the mental health issue," he asserted. "Whether it's on the internet, whether it's in any walk of life, people are just at each other every day."
The lieutenant governor offered a similar analysis when appearing on Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Tuesday. He suggested that the rise in mass shootings stems from a "coarse society."
"When I grew up and most of the people watching grew up and you, we didn't have these situations," Patrick said. "We didn't have mass shooters in our schools."
"This was a country founded on faith," he added. "That's why we have to come together as a people" and resist the urge to "politicize" the mass shooting.
Texas has experienced several mass shootings in recent years, including a 2017 shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs that killed 26 people, a 2018 shooting at a high school in Santa Fe that left 10 dead and a 2019 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso that took the lives of 23 people.
O'Rourke mentioned the previous mass shootings during his confrontation with Abbott Wednesday.
O'Rourke, who previously represented Texas' El Paso-based 16th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018 and the Democratic nomination for President in 2020, is running against Abbott as he seeks a third term in this November's gubernatorial election.
The RealClearPolitics average of the most recent polls taken of the Texas gubernatorial race shows Abbott leading O'Rourke by 6.7 percentage points.
Two days after the school shooting, details still emerge about the gunman killed by police. Shortly after the shooting, Abbott identified 18-year-old Salvador Ramos as the perpetrator.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org