Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Religious Right is STILL Blaming Newtown on Unrelated Things

As mentioned in prior posts, the Religious Right wasted no time in issuing insensitive responses to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Voices from the far right continue to blame the tragedy on atheism, evolution, abortion, insufficient national piety, or Satan himself. Instead of taking part in our national soul-searching or contributing to the national conversation on guns, violence, and mental health services, the Religious Right clings to simple answers that promote its agenda.

First, in a December 17th statement at the American Values website, Gary Bauer used the tragedy as a cheap excuse to lash out at atheism, evolution, and national impiety. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch. See www[dot]amvalues[dot]org/eod/?p=1641)
"What is happening in our society that spawns these young, twisted men who can kill the innocent so easily? First and foremost, as a nation, we are running from God ... Today’s children are taught by our culture that we are a cosmic accident. Something slithered out of the primal slime and over billions of years evolved into a human being. We are cousins, ten times removed, to the ape at the zoo eating his own excrement.

God is pushed out of every public place. The number of Americans professing they are atheists, agnostics or faithless grows yearly and is reported breathlessly by happy social scientists and reporters as evidence that we are putting away the old superstitions."
Next, on the December 17th edition of Generations Radio, host Kevin Swanson and David Buehner used the Newtown shooting as an opportunity to condemn abortion, birth control, and national impiety. Swanson predicted that the Newtown shooting would lead to an increase in homeschooling in Connecticut, and that President Obama would fail in his attempt to address mass violence because he allegedly neglected the church and the Holy Spirit. Hyperbolically, Buehner insisted that increasing "tyranny" would not halt anarchy, as the two forces feed off of each other.

Predictably, Swanson claimed that schools, abortion laws, the media, and the president encouraged "rebellion" against God, complaining that the fear of God (the source of all morality in his eyes) is not taught in schools. Swanson attributed America's high rates of violence to impiety as well as "environmental factors" such as abortion and contraception. At the 4:07 mark, he raged against abortion, dismayed that the media gives attention to the Newtown massacre but ignores abortion. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch. See www[dot]oneplace[dot]com/ministries/generations-radio/player/the-connecticut-school-massacre-a-very-sick-nation-317156.html)
"I think part of that [violence] is due to the sort of environmental factors that feed into it. It's also due to the fact that we have a huge abortion holocaust that was inspired by Colorado in 1967, when we first legitimized abortion in the sate, and of course the 1973 Roe v. Wade also legitimized abortion. And America has been really, the leader. Think about the leaders in birth control. Think about the leaders in surgical abortions. Really, America has been at the forefront of leading abortion around the world, and Dave, this has not been mentioned. We've talked about the 20 children slaughtered in Newtown, Connecticut last week, but we hardly ever mention--I haven't heard on a single news story the other 5,000 killed yesterday, and it probably was more than 5,000 if you include the abortifacient birth control pill that is being used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Christians around America, and that probably was not mentioned yesterday as people were lamenting the loss of the 20."
At the 5:13 mark of the program, Swanson and Buehner lambasted American society for its alleged defiance of God, speaking of the Newtoqn massacre in the same breath as abortion, same-sex marriage, and explicit rap music.
SWANSON:  America has been stunned by what happened. I think there is still somewhat of a conscience. There may not be a conscience about killing the unborn children, there may not be as much of a conscience of killing twenty-seven year olds, but apparently when these bodies of little six and seven year olds riddled by bullets are being examined by the experts, hundreds of thousands and millions of people in America are still somewhat stunned, apparently they have some level of moral outrage left for the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut.

BUEHNER: Kevin, I think you’re exactly right. The liberals are proposing that we as a nation follow a kinder, gentler flavor of rebellion against God. They’d like a rebellion that stops a little short of murdering kindergartners. They want the rebellion that involves gay marriage. They want the rebellion that embraces rape rap and abortion and a media that is in utter defiance against the law of God. That’s the kind of society they want. They want a society that’s in rebellion, but not that much rebellion.
Finally, Dan Delzell, pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska, penned a December 21st commentary on the shooting for the Christian Post. Delzell's well-meaning but misguided commentary lamented the loss of innocent life while attributing Adam Lanza's rampage to infernal influences. He wrote that "[w]hen Adam entered the school, it was like Satan himself was entering. The evil angel had a very willing vessel through whom to work." (Hat tip to Dispatches from the Culture Wars)
"We will never know what voices Adam Lanza heard in his head....or what they were telling him. But whatever was going on at the time, Adam made the decision....and acted on his wicked intentions....and decided to do it, do it, do it. That degree of cold-blooded viciousness must in some way be connected to the influence of Satan."
Delzell attempted to make sense of the carnage through theodicy, asking why an all-powerful God did not prevent the massacre. He concluded that God allowed this horror to happen so as to allow free will in the world, which would allow humans to love God more sincerely (!?).
"Could God have stopped the horror at Sandy Hook? Of course. Could God have stopped Osama bin Laden before 9/11? Of course. Could God have stopped Hitler before his crusade against the Jews? Of course. Could God have stopped Adam and Eve from sinning? Of course. God could have made robots instead of people....which would have left free will out of the equation....and no choice on any matter. But that is not what God did. He loved man and He wanted man to love Him back....and to do so from the heart."
While Delzell clearly meant well and took the loss of life at Newtown seriously, his simplistic explanation for the tragedy offered little insight. Instead of exploring the real-life roots of mass violence and the means by which we can prevent it, he blamed Satan.

These and other Religious Right reactions to Newtown disappoint me. At a time when our country needs insight from all quarters into mass violence, too many voices from the right can offer only judgment, superstition, and politically charged agendas. As tempting as it might be to accept neat, simple explanations for the Newtown tragedy, we must find mature answers to our questions.

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