After a tragic shooting, a prayer at a Chick-fil-A in Nebraska draws a GetReligion reader's interest

Matters of faith and Chick-fil-A — the popular fast-food chicken chain that closes on Sundays — often make their way into the news, as GetReligion readers know.

On Tuesday, a tragic shooting occurred at a Chick-fil-A in Lincoln, Neb.

Really, it’s a local story, not one that we’d normally give national attention.

But a reader contacted us about it because of a key religion detail that she noticed. The detail impressed her as out of whack. In other words, a case of the secular press not getting religion.

Hey, that’s why we’re here!

I’ll explain more in a moment. But first, here’s the top of the Lincoln Journal Star’s front-page story on the shooting:

A disgruntled customer who was escorted out of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in south Lincoln on Tuesday afternoon and then drove his pickup into the building, was shot and killed by a railroad officer, Lincoln Police said.

Officers were called to the restaurant at 6810 S. 27th St. shortly after 1 p.m. on an initial report that a vehicle had driven into the business, police said at an afternoon news conference.

On their arrival, police found the uniformed BNSF Railway senior special agent performing CPR on the suspect, who customers and employees described as a balding, middle-aged man dressed in black.

He died of injuries at the scene. Police are expected to release his name Wednesday.

According to witnesses, the man had begun to act erratically inside the restaurant just as the lunch rush began to slow.

Thomas Arias was working behind the counter when the 15-year-old heard a commotion in the dining room, looked over and saw a customer flipping tables and throwing food.

“He was yelling, ‘It’s just a f---ing sandwich.’”

Keep reading, and the newspaper offers more crucial facts about the frightening episode.

It’s this portion of the initial story posted online, however, that drew the attention of the reader who contacted us:

Charlie Colon, the franchise owner, huddled with his employees in the parking lot, tearfully leading a prayer for the suspect, the officer and Chick-fil-A employees.

"This will not define us," he told them. "Your (God's) love will."

Anything about the wording of that quote strike you as awkward?

More from the reader:

I don't know if the writer understands that the Christian idea of prayer is more about talking to God than talking to the people around you, or that Christians believe that God is real and you can talk to him and that's what prayer *is*.

This misunderstanding is exactly what makes this quote so awkward. "He told them" indicates that (the writer believes) Colon is talking to the employees. But Colon is not talking to the employees. He is talking to God. If he were talking to the employees he would have said "God's love will," not "Your love will."

The writer correctly infers that the second-person pronoun refers to God, but somehow misses the obvious grammatical point that the second-person pronoun refers to a second person (the one *to* whom he is speaking), not a third person (the one *about* whom he is speaking).

Thought that'd be of interest to you.

Yes, that definitely is of interest to us. And I certainly appreciate the reader basically writing this post for me.

But when I read the latest version of the story this morning — presumably the one that appeared in today’s newspaper and was edited by a few people — I was pleased to see that the wording was different.

Different, as in better:

Charlie Colon, the restaurant franchise owner, arrived shortly before 2 p.m. and huddled with his employees in the parking lot, many of whom had been joined by family members.

Colon praised his employees for their actions, saying he hired each because of their character, love and their compassion, and led a tearful prayer that included the deceased man, the BNSF agent, and everyone who was inside the restaurant.

“This will not define us,” Colon prayed. “(God’s) love will.”

The good news is that somewhere in the editing and rewriting process, the original awkward language was improved.

Now is that version perfect?

This may be a matter of personal preference, but I always hate where words are put into parenthesis inside quote marks because I’m curious what exactly the person said. In this case, we know that Colon actually said, “Your love will.”

If I had been the editor, I might have worded it this way:

“This will not define us,” Colon prayed to God. “Your love will.”

To me, that’s still awkward because the “to God” part seems extraneous. At the same time, I’m not certain all readers would understand the “Your” without it.

Your thoughts? Better? Worse? I’d love to hear from you.

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