Hey NPR, did Democratic House members 'think' of their GOP colleagues? Or did they 'pray' for them?

In early media coverage of today's attack on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice, a tweeted picture of Democrats praying for their GOP colleagues went viral. And rightly so.

"This is beautiful and good," one writer commented.

I have to agree.

But in an email to GetReligion, a reader quibbled with how one leading news organization — NPR — chose to characterize the heartwarming scene.

From NPR's story:

Members of the Democratic Party's team were practicing elsewhere Wednesday morning; after the attack, they tweeted a photo of themselves taking a moment to think of their colleagues.

Can you spot the word that sparked the reader's concern? Let's hear from him:

The coverage from NPR includes the tweet itself but uses an unusual description in the reporting text to describe the photo. ... Know of any other time where "think" gets substituted for "pray" in reporting? Would the substitution have been used had the roles been reversed?

Good question. It does strike me as strange wording.

I mean, why not simply say that the Democrats "tweeted a photo of themselves taking a moment to pray for their colleagues?"

Other news organizations were more direct, including The Hill:

Democrats preparing for the Congressional Baseball Game on Wednesday prayed for their Republican colleagues after at least five people were shot at the GOP team's practice. 

Time, meanwhile, was even more specific in describing what happened:

After a top Republican leader in Congress and others were shot in Virginia early Wednesday morning at a charity baseball game, a group of Democrats huddled, closed their eyes, and prayed.

Was the NPR wording a purposeful attempt to avoid using the word "pray?" If so, why? I have no way of knowing, but I — like the reader — am curious.

Of course, regular GetReligion readers know that the whole notion of "thoughts and prayers" after shootings has become — in some circles — a sort of political dynamite.

My colleague Julia Duin provided an excellent overview of "prayer shaming" after the San Bernardino terrorist attack in December 2015. If you're unfamiliar with the term, be sure to check out her archived post, which contains a bunch of important background.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has a really strong story on the suspect in today's shooting:

The man suspected of firing dozens of rounds into an Alexandria baseball field Wednesday morning was highly critical of President Trump and other Republican leaders on social media, and had volunteered for the presidential campaign of Democrat Bernie Sanders.

As we continue to follow the latest news, we are interested in any religion angles that might develop. By all means, if you come across any, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion.

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