First, University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler rejects the callous theology of those who blame the Newtown tragedy on impiety. In a December 15th commentary at Religion Dispatches, Butler condemns "their punitive--and puny--belief" and their right-wing ideology, urging evangelicals to disavow religious leaders who exploit the Newtown tragedy.
"The time has come to confront, without reservation and unceasingly, the type of theological evil that emerges from figures like Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer—who after yesterday seem little different from the Westboro hatemongers. It is not about “reaping and sowing,” David Brody. The nation reaped this whirlwind not because of God's absence, but because of an absence of limits on the power of the NRA and its particular interpretation of the Second Amendment. That group and its ideology have become an omnipotent force that holds a gun, fixing its sights on all of us as a nation. God is not lobbying on Capitol Hill about guns. God isn’t making state laws more lenient for concealed carry. God is not selling assault rifles at gun shows without so much as a three-day waiting period.San Diego State University professor Edward J. Blum offers a poignant commentary on the Newtown tragedy at the Huffington Post. As a father whose eight-month-old son recently passed away, Blum was pained when his child's well-meaning grandmother asserted "God has a plan for this." Blum was also sickened by people who preach that the Newtown tragedy was part of some divine plan, urging quiet, attentiveness, and compassion instead of simplistic (and hurtful) theological speculation.
God did not give David an AK-47 to tackle Goliath, but a slingshot.
Listen up, evangelicals and conservative Christians. You can’t say that because God isn’t in a classroom, that we as a nation have reaped what we’ve sown—and then ask for guns in schools at the same time. Those children and teachers were innocent. You can’t compare this to abortion. It’s a false equivalence. If you continue to allow these theological hacks to speak for you, or if you as clergy repeat this asinine excuse to your congregation this Advent season, you lead your people astray, and you have blood on your hands as well."
"Perhaps God is more like the whisper in the wind that the biblical Eljiah experienced or like the Jesus who knelt silently when the "adulterous woman" was brought before him. Perhaps he knew, as my friend Jonathan Walton - now the pastor at Harvard University's Memorial Chapel - knew that one can mourn with another without telling them how to interpret the events. Reverend Walton's text message to me after my son's death is the only one I have kept: it reads simply, "sigh." He knew as a father and as a brother that this was not the time to counsel.Finally, in a December 16th post at No Longer Quivering, Suzanne Calulu urges readers to leave spiritually abusive churches that blame the Newtown tragedy on impiety. She lists several toxic responses from some churches that blame supernatural forces or an insufficiently Christian society for Friday's bloodshed.
So as we mourn the many losses; as we hug our children; as we have our debates over gun control; and as we wonder where God is, perhaps we can think about what we say and what we do not. Perhaps in this moment "sigh" is better than childish theology; perhaps to remain attentively quiet is what God would ask of us - because that is what God seems to do too."
1. “It was God’s will that this happened.”I'm grateful for voices such as these, meeting insanity with sanity, meeting inhumanity with unrelenting humanity. As the Religious Right continues to spew venom in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, may compassionate and principled voices condemn their callousness.
2. “God is punishing our nation/state/school/society for immorality.”
3. “When we took God out of the schools this is what happens.”
4. “Demons were involved! Demons because we have turned from God.”
5. “This happened so God could be glorified through the outcome.”
6. “This happened so that people would turn back to God and pray.”
7. “If they had just been home schooling their children like proper Christian families this would not have happened.”