I was traveling when I heard about what had happened in Connecticut. I read about it on my cell phone. I have an 8-year-old boy about to start in his new school. My first thoughts were about him, and how to keep him safe. But the insanity didn’t end with the shooting and the deaths. The insanity went on and will go on and is not likely to end anytime soon.
The conservative reaction to the deadly shooting in a Connecticut elementary school has been less than underwhelming, either hiding from view or suggesting we give guns to teachers . The reaction of Christian conservatives, in particular, has been on an order of magnitude, worse.
We have rapist-friendly Mike Huckabee saying that God did it. Yes, when God is not killing birds he is killing our children. Why is God killing our children? Because we have taken prayer out of school. Huckabee told Fox News (which you have to admit is the perfect audience for this kind of crap), that the shooting happened because,
“we’ve systematically removed God from our schools,” and added, “Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end, and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done.”
What a great god. Honor him above all or he will kill your children.
And people worship this guy…why, exactly? I mean, c’mon, do any actual Christians think this way? I don’t know any.
And then there is our old “friend” Bryan Fischer, who basically reiterated what Mike Huckabee said. According to Fischer, God could have actually saved those innocent young children, but he didn’t. Why didn’t God save the children? Because, Fischer says, “God is not going to go where he is not wanted”
Watch the video courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
Where was God when all this went down? Here’s the bottom line: God is not going to go where he is not wanted… Since 1962…We have spent 50 years telling God to get lost; telling God, we do not want you in our schools. We don’t want to prayer to you in our schools, we don’t want to pray to you before football games, we don’t want to pray to you at graduation…we don’t want anybody referring to you. We don’t want your word read in our schools. In 1962 we kicked prayer out of the schools; in 1963 we kicked the word of god out of schools; in 1980 we kicked the 10 commandments out of schools. We’ve kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman!’
Fischer is perpetuating a myth. Prayer was not taken out of our public schools. School sponsored prayer is another matter entirely.
1962’s Engle v. Vitale determined that it was unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and require its recitation in public schools.
Conservatives then as now, including Fischer, look at this as a law banning school prayer. It is not. It was never that. Engle v. Vitale did not ban school prayer. Students were still free to pray individually or in groups. All it did was conform school prayer to the demands of the First Amendment. Public schools do not have the right to teach our children to be Christians.
The other event Fischer talks about was 1963’s Abington Township School District v. Schempp.
On June 17, 1963 Abington Township School District v. Schempp(consolidated with Murray v. Curlett), 374 U.S. 203 (1963) declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional.
Again, it did not ban school prayer or “kick god out of schools” as has been claimed by the Religious Right. As Charles C. Haynes of the First Amendment Center writes, the ruling “requires that teachers and administrators neither promote nor denigrate religion — a commitment to state neutrality that protects the religious freedom of students of all faiths and no faith.”
For Fischer, the ultimate solution is not the “Second Amendment” but the “First Amendment” and the free exercise of religion, as he calls it. In other words, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Heathens like me – our children should be forcibly exposed to Christian doctrine in our public schools. That’s what Fischer and the Religious Right call religious freedom – their freedom to force their religion down our throats.
That’s not what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and the other Founding Fathers had in mind.
Talk show host Steve Deace took to Facebook immediately after the shooting and went on a rampage of his own, railing against what he calls the public schools’ “culture of death.” According to Deace, this is not a gun problem but a cultural/spiritual problem:
These people are sick, folks. They are not Christians. Real Christians don’t talk this way; they don’t think this way. I used to be one. I am related to others. I have had friends who are Christian. The people who are pretending to defend Christianity today from imaginary attack are not Christians, but aberrochristians – aberrant Christians.
They want to use fear of the divine, what the Pagan Romans called superstition (superstitio), to coerce you into turning our public schools into aberrochristian indoctrination centers. They’re not satisfied with tax-free churches and ministries and megachurches and Super-Pacs. They want our public schools too made available for their warped ideology of hate and oppression.
And then their god will stop killing our children. Make Bryan Fischer and his mentally ill, sociopathic compatriots, happy, and he will stop killing our children. That is an ideology we do not need, a worldview that is counterproductive and sustained not by fact or rationality, but by crassest superstition.
America needs to say no not only to our rampant and irrational gun culture as embodied by the NRA, but to the Religious Right as well. We are in need of a rational debate, and we will get neither from these right-wing ideologues. Let’s save our children, because these groups sure as hell have no interest in doing so.
You can sign a petition telling Fox News to take Mike Huckabee off the air unless he apologizes immediately at Faithful America:
Image from KRDO.com