Ken’s Take on the World

Of God and Guns

In light of the horrible tragedy that occurred in the community of Sandy Hook, CT, many are wondering how such a terrible thing could have happened.  And then you have the right-wing, so-called Christians who appear much wiser than the rest of us and can tell us exactly why this act of unspeakable evil took place.  Apparently, this unthinkable act occurred because “God has been forced out of our schools.”

Wow!!  If only we had a crucifix hanging in every classroom and the Ten Commandments posted at the entrance of this small-town elementary school, the crazed gunman would never have been able to enter the building.  Why has this information been kept from the American public?  Surely the government knew this after the massacre at Columbine, the shootings at Virginia Tech, and shootings at a number of other educational institutions.  Granted, this would not have saved folks in the movie theater in Aurora, CO, but it obviously protects people in houses of worship in this country!  Oh wait, no, it does not!

Listening to folks from the American Family Association and Focus on the Family, you would think that if only the Principal had led prayers at the school every day this tragedy would not have occurred.  The fact of the matter is, this horrific act of terrorism did happen and it was not based on a lack of prayer, or the lack of Christian symbols that led it to happen.  This terrible act happened because someone who should never have had access to a firearm was able to obtain multiple firearms and more than ample supplies of ammunition to carry out his depraved intentions.

The massacre at the elementary school in Connecticut happened because anyone, essentially, can get their hands on weapons more powerful than any our founding fathers envisioned when the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights were drafted and adopted.  This particular incident happened because the firearms were present in the home where the accused killer lived.  As we spend the next days and weeks drilling down into the history of what led the young man to carry out this act of sheer horror there will be many conversations and theories about why it happened.  We will find, as in all other spree shootings, that a perfect storm of factors combined to permit the tragedy to happen.  Two things that are prominent in current discussions are tighter gun restrictions and the presence, or absence, of “God in the school.”  The first is an important discussion that should enjoy serious debate and reasoning.  The second is completely false and serves as a red herring designed to focus people away from the true issues leading up to this tragedy and, perhaps, as a means for certain folks like those at the American Family Association or Focus on the Family to try to recruit followers to their cause.

As a college instructor, I am certain that my students say a quick prayer before I hand out their tests for them to take.  Some of them will probably pray after they turn their exam back into me as a bargain for a good grade.  As a person of compassion, I am absolutely certain that the students, faculty, staff members, and first responders at Sandy Hook Elementary School were praying as they endured a hell that no child, or adult, should ever be forced to face.

While there are those who will ask how a loving God could permit such a thing to happen or why He (or She) did not intervene to stop it, they miss the point of what a God does, or does not, do.  To the best of my knowledge in the readings of history, or of the Bible, God has never directly intervened to either cause or permit terrible things that have happened.

God does not make one kill another person nor does God stop one person from taking the life of another.  To believe otherwise renders you ignorant of all biblical tradition or religious scripture.

God is seen best in the compassion shown by others who are touched by tragedy and in the strength and perseverance of those who have faced horror and lived to tell about it.  God is not about the evil and the despair, but rather about the hope and love that is seen after a bad thing happens.  While people will delve into the reasons behind the actions of those who commit atrocities in the hopes of preventing future horrors it is only by looking at those who have faced these horrors that one can see what God is.


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