American Humanist Association Issues Statement on Newtown Shooting

Just released from the American Humanist Association:

Humanists are joining others everywhere as we mourn the deeply tragic violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in [Newtown], Connecticut, where, according to recent reports, 28 people were murdered — 20 of them children. Our thoughts go out to the victims and the families, and the humanist community will seek to support the victims’ families in the best way possible.

We think it is unfortunate that within hours of this tragedy some have chosen to use the event to raise irrelevant issues of church-state separation, suggesting that such issues point to an underlying cause of the killings. We hope that all Americans, religious and secular, recognize the foolishness and opportunism that underlies such statements, and we also hope that, rather than focus on divisive theological matters, Americans can come together to mourn and heal.

With the growing number of significant gun-related tragedies in recent years, it’s time to have a serious conversation about reason-based efforts to reduce such violence in the future.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Pawel Samson

    “We think it is unfortunate that within hours of this tragedy some have chosen to use the event to raise irrelevant issues of church-state separation, suggesting that such issues point to an underlying cause of the killings.”
    It is unfortunate, but it seems like how things are going to go from now on.  There’s a mass shooting, followed by liberals arguing about gun control, conservatives arguing about god in schools, and maybe libertarians mumbling something about the free market, who knows.  At least the gun control argument is based in reality, while the god argument is not.

  • Pawel Samson

    Oh, and why are “visitors welcome” at an elementary school?  My grade school had metal detectors, and no one was allowed in besides students, parents/guardians, or staff.

  • Jon Peterson

    ^This, but without the metal detectors. And parents were only allowed onto the campus IF they were bringing their child medication… otherwise the child was sent to meet them at the office.

  • Earcatching

    But at what point does our disgust at the response of some Christians turn into our own inappropriate grandstanding?..

  • A Reader

    Agreed. I don’t think we had metal detectors, but there was only 1 entrance that opened from the outside, and that led into a small, cinderblock hallway. There were three things in the hallway: a little trophy case with cutsey awards, a glass window that would let your talk to someone from the office, and a door that only opened if the receptionists pushed a certain button. It wasn’t perfect–there was a lot of glass–but it was something.

  • ActiusLuna

    If it’s in a more rural area, I’m not surprised it didn’t have much in the way of security, metal detectors, tightly controlled entrance/exit etc. are something I’d expect at a big city school, not one in rural/suburban CT. After looking it up online, Newton CT seems to be similar in size/population to the smallish New England town I grew up in and out school’s were all very easy to get in and out of. No security at all to speak of.

  • LutherW

     You must have missed the reports that he shot his way into the school

  • LutherW

     I have been waiting to say “It is just too soon to be criticizing those who are talking about gun control.”

  • Rwlawofice

    Interesting response by the American Humanist Association. At the same time they criticize Christians for expressing their viewpoint on prayer in school, they use the statement to tout how their viewpoint is the correct one. They are wrong, we are right is a disingenuous way o express sympathy.

  • Guest

    I think it’s sad that people on all sides of the issues rush to judgement.  Remember when Tuscon was the result of a right wing religious operative who sprung into action because of Sarah Palin’s website?  It was in all the news stories.  Turned out to be garbage.  Now I’m hearing this kid was some sort of anti-theist.  Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t.  You know what?  Even if he was a raging atheist, it makes no difference, any more than if he was a raging theist.  Neither group officially condones such things.  To deny that fact is simply shoveling bullshit. Trying to score points, no matter which side of the issue – and both sides contribute, don’t deny it – is simply exploiting the deaths in a nation that has become a country filled with pundits instead of principles.  

  • Phyllis Keip

    Really!  At 83 years of age, I have seen a lot of life.
    Reinstate the 10 Commandments all over the continent
    Bring back the Pledge of Allegence,, even with the word “God”

  • David Behrens

    And let’s start burning witches at the stake!!!  Oh boy, that OLD TIME RELIGION!!!

  • David Behrens

    I wonder where an omnipotent god was when this maniac was shooting first graders multiple times with an assault rifle.  Was god, the omnipresent, handing him fresh magazines???  Did god, the omniscient, know that this would happen, and allow it to happen??

  • LastBastionOfHope

    It’s so obvious there is no god…it’s clear as day and the stupid religious zombies just can’t see it. If a god really existed, where was he during this, during Katrina, during the Holocaust, during the Japanese tsunami, during Sandy, during Columbine, during the Newtown shootings, during 9/11, during Pearl Harbor, etc.? “God” has a LOT of explaining to do because apparently he goes on lots of vacations and misses this stuff. Every time tragedies like these happen, it makes it even more clear that there is no god, yet religious drones somehow feel their religious beliefs strengthened by the same ones.  

    GROW UP! Stop praying to an invisible man…it will never cease to shock me just how stupid most Americans are due to religious indoctrination.

  • Lillian Hinchclifg

    “A man’s heart devises a way but the Lord directs his steps.” If the Bible is true, God not only knew it would happen, it happenedby His divine providence.

  • Anna

    That’s a very Christian-centric way of looking at the situation. Bad things don’t prove there are no gods anymore than good things prove that there are gods.

    The only god disproven by tragedies such as this one is the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity posited by most of Western society. It still leaves room for other gods. Maybe the gods are ignorant of what happens on earth. Maybe the gods are powerless to stop anything. Maybe the gods don’t care. Maybe the gods are actively malevolent.

    The whole reason we should oppose the idea that gods are real isn’t because of their purported personalities, but because there is not a shred of evidence that deities are based in reality. It doesn’t matter if it’s a loving god or a mean god. We have no indication that either kind of god exists.

  • Anna

    Phyllis, if you’re 83, you’re old enough to remember that the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance, the one you grew up reciting in school, did not contain the words “under God.”

  • Anna

    It sounds like Sandy Hook did everything right, but the shooter still managed to force his way in. Short of turning our elementary schools into armed fortresses, I don’t see any way to prevent someone who’s really determined from shooting up a school. If they can’t get into a classroom, they’ll wait until the children are on the playground or being released at dismissal time.

  • RobMcCune

    At her age she’s probably to old to remember the pledge didn’t contain “under god”. All those memories to the contrary have been whitewashed by chain emails full of paranoid ravings about godless muslim Obama.