There’s never so much evil that religious leaders can’t add a little more.

Despite protestations from some on my facebook wall, here we are, the day after a travesty, and the discussion about gun rights and whether to put state-endorsed prayer into public schools lives is still going strong.  Who’d have thunk it?

Anyway, within a couple hours of yesterday’s travesty, several religious leaders saw a mechanism not to display their compassion, but to push their political ideals. The message was all the same: if we had state-mandated Christian prayer, this wouldn’t have happened.

First, Eric Hovind.

Are you happy now that the shooter grew up in a school without God? #thinkAboutit

— Eric Hovind (@erichovind) December 14, 2012

Then was the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer.

And then Mike Huckabee piled on.

What a bunch of cold, inhuman, unadulterated bullshit.

God’s opinion is apparently that when children aren’t being forced to pray, that their lives aren’t worth saving – and this comes from people who insist we should emulate the behavior of god.  “Oh, adults remove prayer from schools?  No, I’m not going to punish the adults, I’m going to let a bunch of children who didn’t have shit to do with that decision die.”  Frankly, it makes about as much sense as burning every human being because one woman ate an apple (which makes about as much sense as amputating your foot because the Packers are playing).

First, disputes over which religion is present in schools has oft-been the source of religious violence in America.  Think of the Philadelphia Bible Riots.

One of the most infamous examples of religious violence in the U.S. came to Philadelphia in 1844. Catholics petitioned the school board to permit Catholic students to read from the Catholic rather than the King James Version of the Bible. Militant Protestants accused Catholics of trying to ban the Bible and the situation turned from rumor to hysteria to eventual mob violence. The city was beset with riots from May through July, and militant nativists threatened to burn down all Catholic churches. By July 8th, twenty people were dead, two Catholic churches and schools and hundreds of homes had been burned to the ground.

The Bible-reading question in public schools was a continual source of discord, and offers lessons to those who would impose prayer on public school students today. In Maine and Massachusetts, Catholic students were forced to read from the King James Bible and to recite the Protestant version of the Lord’s Prayer. If they refused, they were either beaten or expelled. A Maine Supreme Court decision in the Donahue case upheld this policy, which stimulated the growth of Catholic parochial schools. A Maine priest, the Rev. John Bapst, was tarred and feathered and ridden out of the town of Ellsworth on a rail when he tried to change school policies.

Government neutrality has been an instrument by which we’ve avoided sectarian religious quarrels.  We evolved away from that kind of violence-inducing tension and would be foolish to go back.

Second, if religiosity is what keeps god out of a tantrum long enough to give a damn about the suffering of children, one can only wonder why he has failed to protect the thousands of children raped by Catholic priests within buildings constructed purely for the purpose of praising Jesus.  Surely god has not been booted out of the world’s oldest living Christian church.

We’re also told by the Mike Huckabee archetypes that school shootings didn’t happen back when “god was in our schools.”  That is either a piss ignorant statement or a lie.  There is a litany school shootings from before 1962, when mandated school prayer was the norm,  Shouldn’t god have been protecting schools then?

But it’s more disgustingly obvious than that.  In the last 13 years there have been 385 shooting incidents at churches in America.  These have resulted in several hundreds of deaths of Christians.  Has god been booted out of modern churches as well?

How dare these people so grossly use the misery of others?  Fuck them for taking the actions of a madman and trying to make atheists culpable for his murders.  Mike Huckabee, Bryan Fischer, Eric Hovind, and oodles of Christians across the internet have instead only established how religion is no antidote to being slimy as all hell.  Indeed, it seems to contort people’s sense of justice on a large scale.  And what’s more, it allows them to think of themselves as righteous, moral warriors in the process.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jaimie

    Delusion’s finest hour. Prayer in schools is some kind of magic shield against all evil? What are these people smoking?

  • Sam

    God is powerful enough to stop bullets, but he can’t come into a school building unless he’s invited?

    I think they’ve confused their deity with a vampire.

    • Azkyroth

      I think they’ve confused their deity with a vampire.

      More proof that theists create gods in their own image.

  • Dean Hall

    Mike Huckabee was simply warning parents that his god will kill more of their children if America doesn’t allow government to force them to pray to his particular god in school. What a sick, opportunistic, fear-mongering bastard.

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    God: Worship Him, or He’ll send homicidal gunmen into schools and do nothing to help to make a point. BTW, He is LOVE.

  • Baal

    Thanks for the link to the article by Albert J. Menendez. The Christian right (faux news) seems to have forgotten the early history of the colonies (despite how much they harp on them). The secualism battle was historically a tool to stop xians sects from killing one another and not about atheists.

  • smrnda

    Imagine if someone said that this was all because people (the students or the shooter) didn’t practice Transcendental Meditation, or because they hadn’t performed the right ‘cleansing ritual’ to rid the school of evil spirits. They’d be denounced as an insensitive ass peddling their pet spirituality at a time when it’s totally inappropriate, or the suggestion would be dismissed as ridiculous and simplistic. The thing is, I think most Christians would feel the same way. Give people the courtesy to deal with tragedy without recruiting for your cult please.

  • Switchhttr

    I got into a shouting match with a work colleague Friday because he espoused this view, and I didn’t take kindly to being blamed (yet again) for someone else’s homicidal rampage. Really. He literally kept repeating to my face that these guys were right every time I insisted this was not true, in a rising level of volume. So now in addition to the low pay and the crappy hours (3rd shift), I get to look forward to working with this character several days a week. I feel all the more insulted because last week this guy had been off work after breaking a couple of ribs in a fall, and I reminded the management to circulate a get well card for him (and was the first to sign it). I guess I’m just a sucker.

    On the plus side, the night manager took my side of the dispute.

  • jeff mcmajon

    In one hundred years people will look back at this tragedy as the tipping point.

    America is bitterly divided. The religious insanity is at levels never seen before and the vast number of sheep are doing what good sheep do. I have no idea what’s on the horizon, but I think that we will have to go through hellish times before anything gets any better. “There’s a war comin’, I can smell it.”

  • Chris

    If they want to blame the removal of prayer from schools for the shootings, then how do they explain the shootings that have happened at Christian schools such as the one in that Christian University out in Oakland earlier this year? Prayer was allowed there and it still happened. How do they explain the shooting at the Amish school? How do they explain the molestation that occurs in catholic churches? Surely God hasn’t been driven out of churches. Why didn’t he prevent the little alter boys from being molested?

  • Anonymous

    Please don’t stereotype here people. I can assure you not everyone thinks this way…Honestly I don’t know why such a tragedy happened but don’t become angry at God as if He did it to be spiteful. And even still I’m pretty sure all those children are in Heaven now, so if think it’s evil for God to let them be eternally happy then there must be something wrong..Again don’t attack Christianity as a whole because of the beliefs of a number of individuals! Yes, there are corrupt religious leaders. It’s disheartening, but don’t group people with them! Don’t let confused people make a bad image of other Christians or even God for you.

    • M

      Well, people are also awfully confused by this Christian God.

      1) God controls everything, so God caused this to happen or at least didn’t stop it, and thus God’s an evil bastard
      2) God couldn’t do anything about it, which means It isn’t omnipotent. That probably means It’s not worth your worship.

      As for the statement that the children are in Heaven- well! That’s just insulting to the grief of the parents, friends, and relatives of those dead children. Yes, I think it’s absolutely evil for God to cause children to be murdered because It’s lonely or something. You and your statement are a huge part of the problem I have with Christianity- it’s like your natural empathy for the victims and horror at the crime is being short-circuited by your religion. “Oh children died, how awful, but they’re in Heaven so it’s really happy times and we should all be glad they’re dead!”


    • Nate Frein

      What a funny thing to post.

      First, this particular post is talking specifically about the absurd and disgusting things being said by specific fundamentalist christian leaders. One can hardly call it stereotyping to respond to specific statements.

      Second, I doubt very many people here “hate god”. In order to “hate god”, you first have to believe that “god” exists. Here’s a hint: Most of us here don’t. Now, we may hate a lot of the stuff that get’s carried out as “god’s will”, but those are actions of human beings just like us.

      Finally, what does telling us about the “corrupt leaders” in your movement accomplish? We’re already criticizing them. Why not, instead of criticizing the messenger, instead go off and criticize those corrupt leaders?

    • Andrew Kohler

      “Honestly I don’t know why such a tragedy happened but don’t become angry at God as if He did it to be spiteful.”

      Actually: this blog entry, and most of those of us commenting here, are angry at the people who are claiming and *gloating about* how God did this intentionally to spite secularists (stunningly ignorant of how badly that would reflect on God were it true); we reject the idea that this actually happened.

      And indeed, one has to believe in God to be angry at God. Well, I suppose I get angry at fictional characters in novels, TV shows, and (especially) operas, but not for events that occur in real life; I don’t blame earthly suffering on that idiot prince in Puccini’s Turandot.

      “Why not, instead of criticizing the messenger, instead go off and criticize those corrupt leaders?”

      Very well said.