On the cause of the Sandy Hook shooting…

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been a meme going around to answer the question of why the Christian God did not prevent the shooting.

“God is not allowed in schools.”

I think most of the people getting behind this meme are generally decent people who love their country and respect their fellow Americans of other religious beliefs, including none at all. With that in mind, I want to tell you how this answer looks to those of us on the outside.

You’re effectively telling us that your God could have stopped Adam Lanza from going into that school and shooting all those people, most of whom were little kids, but he chose not to intervene, because the U.S. makes public schools a secular zone.

I grew up Christian, so I know that God is supposed to be extremely powerful. The God that I was taught to believe in would not let a small thing like the First Amendment get in the way of protecting children from getting shot while they sit in their classrooms. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how my childhood church would answer the question of why God didn’t make Adam Lanza use the first bullet on himself, but they would not tell us that those children and staff were killed because of the nation’s decision to make public schools a religion-neutral zone.

To those of us who believe in no God at all, you’re saying that your God is an asshole. You’re telling us that making everyone worship Him is more important to God than saving children’s lives.

To those who believe in different gods, or different ideas of the same God, you’re telling them that they are part of the problem because they want their children to go to school in a non-sectarian environment. You are asking them to think there would be less violence in the world if they allowed your religious traditions to be honored in the public sphere, at taxpayer expense, above their own.

All that said, I think this idea is most offensive to American Christians who respect the separation of church and state, because it’s ostensibly their God that chose not to prevent Adam Lanza from killing all those people. You’re also telling them that they are contributing to the problem by not demanding that their religious traditions be honored above all others.

Most of all, the message you’re sending is that a mass murder with mostly very young victims is a good time to discuss the merits of church-state separation. This may seem fair enough, because a lot of other people are using this occasion to point out the dangers of handguns. However, there is an important difference between God and guns, which is: we don’t need to debate whether guns exist. We can all look at a gun placed in front of us, take it apart, and learn the mechanics of how that gun can be used to kill people. In this case, we all know for a fact that guns were used to enable the killing of many people in a short span of time. There is no faith involved in understanding gun-related deaths. The evidence is readily available to all of us. The existence of God, and especially the supposed role of God in this tragedy, is all a matter of dueling beliefs. So, now you’re telling us that a lot of violence could be prevented if we all started worshipping the same God and in the same way that you do, but where’s your evidence? Why should we believe you over all other faith traditions, as well as the physics of handgun technology, the biology of death by bullet wound, and the sociology and psychology of violence? I don’t doubt that your intentions are genuine, and that you really think what this country needs more than anything is more love of God. The shooting at Sandy Hook was not a crime against God nearly as much as it was a crime against human beings. If you think your religion has a monopoly on compassion for human beings, you are sorely mistaken.

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  1. #1 by Ann Bresnan on December 15, 2012 - 6:00 PM

    If the solution to these terrible murders were so easy as allowing prayers in school I wish someone would tell me why God let the priests abuse children IN church? There have been other shootings inside churches. Would they want the rest of us to believe it’s not the “right” church?

    • #2 by alysonmiers on December 16, 2012 - 11:03 AM

      I guess their answer to that would be that we need to pray extra-hard (please, no filthy pun intended!) for those priests. Goalposts can always be moved, blame can always be shifted.

  2. #3 by Dan Lewis on December 16, 2012 - 9:14 AM

    It was a nice attempt, but it didn’t hold my attention. I think the material needs a rewrite.

  3. #4 by jantink on December 16, 2012 - 7:31 PM

    As a Christian, I sadly have to agree. I have come to the conclusion that a lot of Christians stick their foots in their mouths regularly, simply because they don’t understand the tenets of their own faith, the foremost of which is “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving your neighbor does not include making people feel small for not worshiping as you do. In my thought, the best way to demonstrate Christianity is to treat other people so well and demonstrate Christ’s love so effectively, that other people will say, “I want to know why that person is the way they are and I want to be that way too.” That said, I don’t believe that God allows bad things to happen to small children to prove any point or for any other reason. These things happen because we are a fallen people and evil flourishes because mankind has chosen to allow it in. We have all fallen short and no matter how much we worship or what we do, we will continue to fall short. Christians are not more perfect than other people. And if more of them got off their high horses and just helped people with love and compassion, there would be more of us because people would want to be part of something that beautiful.

    • #5 by alysonmiers on December 16, 2012 - 7:56 PM

      Thank you. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  4. #6 by jrhh on December 17, 2012 - 10:41 PM

    “You’re effectively telling us that your God could have stopped Adam Lanza from going into that school and shooting all those people, most of whom were little kids, but he chose not to intervene, because the U.S. makes public schools a secular zone.”

    What meme are you looking at? I thought the message was that people like Adam Lanza are not exposed to God in their early years because public schools are rigidly secular.

    • #7 by alysonmiers on December 18, 2012 - 10:28 AM

      Here is an example of the meme in question. Here is a more mainstream version.

      Either way, the version you suggest is hardly any better.

  1. Such a petty god » Butterflies and Wheels
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