A few days after the shooting of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, I saw an article about how one well-known religious figure interpreted the meaning of the event. I wrote my thoughts at the time, and put them aside for a while to see if time would soften my feelings about the callousness of his moralistic brand of thinking. Looking at this a month later, I stand by my words.
I am angry today. I am angry not only about the pervasive violence of the American culture and the gun lobby’s insistence that easy unchecked access to guns has nothing whatsoever to do with it, but also about how some religious figures publicly interpret tragic events like this one.
We are in a period of national mourning. There are still children being laid to rest by their families. There is a stunned recognition in the minds of parents everywhere that the unspeakable has happened in Sandy Hook, and could happen anywhere. There is shock. There is pain. There is a call for a national conversation on gun control and mental health and there is a cry for meaningful action to prevent these kinds of tragedies in the future.
The Christian Scriptures attest that God enters human life and experiences the joys and sufferings that accompany being human. God steadfastly loves creation. God is compassionate. God has a special place in God’s heart for the most vulnerable among us. God’s actions don’t necessarily correspond with the views of Christian apologists or evangelists. In fact, I am finally ready to say, after holding my tongue, that I suspect God has had quite enough of the stupid un-Christian rhetoric of people like radio host James Dobson, who attributed the Sandy Hook school shooting to a lack of God in schools.
Here are some of the thoughts Dr. Dobson expressed on his radio broadcast a few days after the Sandy Hook tragedy: “I mean millions of people have decided that either God doesn’t exist or he’s irrelevant to me, and we have killed fifty-four million babies, and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences too. And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on” [Family Talk broadcast of December 17, 2012].
So let me get this straight – God, who created the earth and all life, including human beings in God’s own image, deliberately chooses to utilize the evil intentions of a mentally ill and troubled young man with access to high-capacity guns to kill innocent children and teachers in cold blood in order to make a point!
I want to keep as much distance as possible from this kind of toxic and moralistic theology as I possibly can, because if God ever really gets angry I don’t want to be standing anywhere near Dr. Dobson in all of his sanctimonious glory!
I am angry today because James Dobson and others like him malign the name and character of God whose tears were the first to fall as bullets rained down on the innocent ones!
Words (c) 2013 Mark Lloyd Richardson