Non-Religious Americans Grieve After Tragedies, Too

Lawrence Krauss asks a pretty fair question in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings: “Why must the nation grieve with God?

We are told the Lord works in mysterious ways but, for many people, to suggest there might be an intelligent deity who could rationally act in such a fashion and that that deity is worth praying to and thanking for “calling them home” seems beyond the pale.

Let me be clear that there may be many grieving families in Newtown and around the country who have turned to their faith for solace in this difficult time. No caring person would begrudge them this right to ease their pain. But the question that needs to be asked is why, as a nation, do we have to institutionalize the notion that religion must play a central role at such times, with the president as the clergyman-in-chief?

In times of grief, we don’t need the President to offer us a universal fake Band-Aid. We need him to take action so that these tragedies won’t happen again. Anything else is pure platitude and it distracts us from reality. My worry is that by turning to prayer, some people will accept that this is just “God’s Will” or part of some divine plan and that it’s useless to try and stop it. If that seems far-fetched, remember that we have politicians who use that exact excuse to not take action on Global Warming.

Atheist Lutheran adds:

… having the president offer prayers, without even acknowledging that some of us don’t worship a deity, is more annoying than comforting. The endless discussion of religion in the media doesn’t help, either. Some members of the families of the victims may not be religious, and there are certainly nonreligious people in America trying to come to grips with this tragedy. Offering some thoughts of a more humanistic nature might help comfort them. Offering religion up as the only possible consolation doesn’t.


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.


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