Editor's note: The following column originally appeared in The Washington Times.

We learn a lot about ourselves and others in the midst of a crisis. Hollywood and liberals had no problem revealing themselves for what they are (again) in the aftermath of the horror of the Texas church massacre. Liberals, these worshippers of failed big government, decided to condemn people of faith by mocking those who prayed on a day when 26 Christians were murdered.

But it was more than mocking prayer. The insistence that prayer is useless implies God does not exist, and only government can make the difference. Some of the more venal comments make this implication clear.

Actor Wil Wheaton, best known for being typecast as the smug and irritating Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” responded to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s tweet for prayers. Mr. Wheaton tweeted, “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack of [expletive].”

Actor Michael McKean, currently on AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” chimed in on Twitter as well: “They were in church. They had the prayers shot right out of them. Maybe try something else.”

Mocking people who pray in response to shock and suffering is obscene and corrupt. And while it is not the only answer, prayer is a foundational part of change, and is a powerful and important act. It also must be paired with action, because the divine is not encumbered by the human interest in micromanaging our daily lives.

The irony of the reaction by liberals to maniacs who use guns is to call on their God of Government for more gun control. We now know that government bureaucracy failed us in Texas. It failed us in Charleston. And it failed us at Virginia Tech.

In Texas, gun control laws made it clear Devin Patrick Kelley was exactly the sort of person who should not have been able to purchase firearms, as he had been convicted in a court-martial for a domestic violence offense.

Yet the Air Force failed to inform the FBI of that conviction, so he passed the required federal background check.

This is not the only time that liberal expectations of big government failed. In July 2015, Dylann Roof murdered nine parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina. Due to a previous felony drug conviction, he, too, shouldn’t have been able to purchase a firearm. Then-FBI Director James B. Comey blamed multiple errors in paperwork and communication, and said he was “sick” that it happened. He then ordered the usual “review” of bureaucratic policies.

And then there is Seong-Hui Cho, the psychotic who in 2007 shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others at Virginia Tech. The New York Times reported, “Under federal law, the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho should have been prohibited from purchasing a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a government official and several legal experts said Friday.” Once again, the bureaucratic mess of big government failed.

It’s one thing to have the faceless bureaucracy become an existential threat to our lives, and quite another when the FBI has been alerted to a threatening situation and still does nothing. That was the case in June 2016 when radical Islamist Omar Mateen murdered 49 people and wounded 58 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The FBI had been alerted to Mateen by his co-workers and his mosque. The Daily Beast reported at the time: “The senior law-enforcement source reports Mateen became a person of interest in 2013 and again in 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation at one point opened an investigation into Mateen, but subsequently closed the case when it produced nothing that appeared to warrant further investigation. ‘He’s a known quantity,’ the source said. ‘He’s been on the radar before.’ “

Many liberals also decided to attack the National Rifle Association after the Texas massacre, and the NRA did play a role — in stopping the slaughter.

Stephen Willeford, the local hero, a plumber who also happens to be a former NRA instructor, grabbed his own rifle, ran across the street and shot the madman. He ended the mass murder, saving an untold number of lives. He then teamed up with local Johnnie Langendorff, when the two engaged the shooter in a high-speed chase, which ended with Mr. Kelley’s suicide.

In 2007, the New Life Church in Colorado Springs was attacked by a gun-wielding assailant, only to be stopped by volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam, who killed the shooter with her own firearm. Four innocents were killed in that attack, but the shooter was prepared with 3,000 rounds of ammunition. Had Ms. Assam not been there, the toll would have been staggering.

Recounting the horror of the shooting in Texas, a television host tearfully asked on air, “What does this say about us?” Actually, it says nothing about us and everything about the one maniac who did it.

Despite the efforts of some, we will not defined by the few individual maniacs who are psychopathic mass murderers. We will be defined by the prayerful and the decent.

The truth is, America is populated with millions of Steven Willefords, Johnnie Langendorffs and Jeanne Assams, people quietly living their lives only to emerge as heroes when coming to the aid of friends and strangers alike.

What does that say about us? Everything.