The Real Blasphemy

The horrific shootings at Sandy Hook have given all the usual political opportunists an opening. It isn’t just the gun culture apologists, either–Mike Huckabee and his fellow theocrats have seized the moment to renew their attacks on separation of church and state. According to Huckabee (and a number of people posting to Facebook)  this tragedy occurred because we’ve taken God out of the classroom.

Not only is this sentiment unseemly, it’s demonstrably stupid, on multiple levels.

In this particular case, it’s wrong on its face–the deranged young man responsible for this tragedy turns out to be a product of Catholic School. A number of media outlets have used a photo of him taken when he was a student at St. Rose Middle School.

More significantly, the “cutesy” sayings that have been posted to Facebook in the wake of the tragedy betray an embarrassing lack of understanding of the First Amendment religious liberty clauses. (A sample: “God, why didn’t you stop this shooting and save those babies? ‘I would have, but I’m not allowed in school.’) God and “his” bible have not been “ejected” from public schools, as these pithy sayings suggest: students who wish to pray over the cafeteria meatloaf or before a math quiz, to read their bibles during study hall, or to “meet at the flagpole to pray” before classes are not only free to do so, that conduct is constitutionally protected under the Free Exercise Clause. What is forbidden is the imposition of religion by public school employees–the Establishment Clause prohibits teachers from proselytizing–from preaching or otherwise religiously indoctrinating the captive audience of children in their classes.

Despite the resolute obtuseness of the theocrats among us, truly voluntary prayer has not been removed from the public schools. What has been removed (imperfectly, given the number of school officials who simply ignore the constitution) is involuntary religious devotions imposed by school personnel.

Okay–so the whining here is doubly wrong: this kid didn’t go to one of those “godless” schools, and the schools aren’t quite as godless as the extremists would like us to believe. But there’s a deeper and far more troubling aspect to this recurring complaint, and it goes to the smallness of the God these people evidently worship.

Theologians and clerics who believe in a personal, intentional God are fond of describing Him (most ascribe gender–almost always male–to deity) as omnipotent, unknowable. God works in mysterious ways, etc. Yet despite giving lip service to His greatness and mystery, we have people thanking God for letting them win football games (God evidently didn’t like the players on the other team); we have starlets thanking God for giving them talent (!), and preachers on my flat-screen TV promising that God will make me rich if I just follow His ways–beginning, usually, with a nice contribution to that preacher. We have ostentatiously pious scolds who assure us that they know what God wants, and we’d better fall in line or suffer God’s vengeance.

We have Mike Huckabee telling us that this senseless human tragedy occurred because America didn’t do things God’s way.

The arrogance is overwhelming.

I have no idea whether God exists, but if She does, those who anthropomorphize Her have to be the ultimate blasphemers.


  1. The claim by Huckabee and his twisted ilk is morally depraved: that an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God would throw a temper tantrum and permit innocent children to be executed by a mentally ill young man because adults in the community decided to uphold the First Amendment.

    That god is neither good nor worthy of devotion by any rational, decent human. That imaginary god is a projection of the low self esteem and greedy, wrathful and envious nature of its followers, cowards like Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson.

  2. On further consideration, it wouldn’t matter what the adults had done. Any god who’d exact its wrath on children in order to punish adults or send some kind of “you took me out of your schools so I’ll show you” message is a monster.

  3. What God do Huckabee and Mourdock know? God may have been taken out of schools but never out of our minds and hearts; our prayers are not a classroom project. Huckabee, Mourdock and their ilk are Godless politicians, mouthing platitudes that fall on deaf ears of true believers of any faith. Too bad that old saying, “Ignore them and they will go away.” doesn’t work with them.

  4. The god of his understanding must be made in his self image…selfish, immature, and narcissistic.

  5. A wise politician once said something like:
    “In troubled times, some folks cling to their guns and Bibles”
    Yep. They sure do. And in Indianapolis, people go and chant prayers on street corners to stop gun violence in their communities. How is that working so far?
    More Guns = More Violence
    AND: The Gun Show Exemption… There is quite a display of exactly WHO buys these guns when our State Fairgrounds hosts these loophole events. To its credit, the Star did some reporting on the type of folks who frequent these shows to buy their guns. Scary folks indeed. This loophole MUST be closed. NOW.

  6. That “God” of theirs sure is a coward if he lets humans tell him when and where he can be, right?

    If you want a lesson on God and pagan worship, read Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”.

    This tragedy has had me in tears on and off since I heard it Friday morning. Those poor teachers and children…just horrific.

  7. We can bash God, Christianity, Islam, etc. all we want. However, we must look at history. Everything I’ve learned from history tells me that people back decades ago seemed to more strongly believe in an after life, in some sort of God figure. Many of today’s morals and laws were based on rules on how folks should live given what was said in a handful of books. Today I see more and more “Christian” religions as a “pick-your-own-morals” religion. You can join certain sects which have changed the original rules to fit the followers personal beliefs. Thus instead of homosexuality being a sin, it is now accepted. Instead of abortion being a sin, it is now accepted. Instead of premarital sex being a sin, it is now accepted. Now some sects will still say one or more of those things are “bad,” but there is this blanket forgiveness that is constantly harped on.

    I just see a changing culture, one that still wants to try to hold on to what some would laugh and call a fantasy of some after-life. So we have two problems now in this world. For starters, we have devalued the value of a human life. When abortion is readily available, and most people want it available more than don’t, what does this tell our children and young adults? Why is the death of living children such a horrific thing, but yet for every child killed in that school shooting, there were hundreds never even given the chance to take a breath. Not because the mom’s life was in danger, but just because would be mom got drunk, hooked up at a bar, and had unsafe sex and became pregnant. We then raise kids that killing is bad, bad, bad, then we turn around and wage wars that last decades. We take young men and women, who have been told “killing is bad,” then hand them their Army rifle and tell them it is now OK to kill certain people. We claim violence is wrong, that bullying is horrible, then allow rappers to release songs talking about “popping (n-word)s.” We then allow videos games that have evolved from shooting fantasy aliens, asteroids, ducks to cops, hookers, and people just walking down the street.

    Some gun owners want to blame this violent media pushed onto our children, but 1st Amendment absolutist will fight tooth and nail against any changes. Others will want to blame the easy access to guns, and the proliferation of semi-auto rifles, higher capacity magazines, etc., but the 2nd Amendment absolutist will fight tooth and nail against any changes.

    The answers are complex, and involve many issues, but too many will pick something they disagree with and fight for just those changes, while leaving the other problems in place. Thus, I don’t have much hope of anything changing anytime soon.

  8. I wonder if anyone has pointed out to Mr. Huckabee that his pontifications are rather similar to the Westboro Baptist Church people. Someone ought to ask the guy if he agrees with WBC.

  9. A couple of things need to be set straight. First off, Adam Lanza may have gone to a church middle school, but he went to a public high school. Second, Huckabee never said God was taking revenge on children. What he said is that our schools have become places where teachers do not discuss morals, values, faith or any sort of religion with children, not even in an academic context. He making the common-sense point that you cannot raise children in some sort of nihilistic, values-free vacuum and expect them to act with any sort of virtue or restraint. Therefore, when a troubled student comes along, it should not be a surprise when he acts the way he was taught — without any moral restraint. The only blasphemy here is people who don’t care about God or traditional religion pontificating about values and criticizing someone for pointing out the obvious, like Huckabee, who by the way only discussed God in schools because he was prompted by the interviewer. Huckabee was 100 percent right. Get off your high horses and get on your knees. You’ll make the world a better place.

  10. How many of you remember the movie, “Billy Jack” and the theme song, “One Tin Soldier”? These are the only words I remember from the song, “Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat your friend; do it in the name of Heaven you’ll be justified in the end.” Sounds like the GOP presidential platform to me.

  11. Comments from the “gun” people can only help. While they rationalize their fight against gun control and refuse to admit that it is gun violence that people want addressed, they make it clearer to the parents, that they do not have the interests of the innocent at heart. This then becomes a wedge issue that moves independents left enough to vote against Conservatives.

    Since these gun people will fight until we have to pry their cold dead fingers from their guns, the only way that we can protect the innocent is to attain a liberal Democratic majority in the House, a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, a Democratic President with a mandate, and a Supreme Court progressive enough to uphold any gun control legislation by a 5-4 majority.

    Just the fear of that may be enough to initiate some compromise but I doubt compromise is in their slippery slope vocabulary.

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