If God is invited in, all is well?

Response to some really bad.hacks

While any commentary on the horrors of Newtown, Connecticut, may be premature, there is no such prohibition on commentary of the commentary on Newtown. Specifically, commentary by two people representing Christianity who took to the airwaves to present to the world where God was in all the violence…but the God they describe is one I do not recognize.

First, Mike Huckabee said the following:

We ask why there is violence in our schools but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability — that we’re not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.

Second, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said the following:

We kicked God out of our public school system. I think God would say to us, hey, I would be glad to protect your children but you gotta invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman…. Back when we had prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments in schools, we did not need guns.

So the basic proposition by them both is that because God has been removed from the public schools, then this happened. If God was in the public schools, and the people were immersed in his way, then this would not happen.

I think the people of East Texas in 1937 would disagree.

In 1937, the vast majority of people attended Church. It was the Depression, churches were the cultural crossroads, prayer was in the schools, churches were full, it was rural TEXAS for crying out loud….there couldn’t be more God-talk in the place.

And yet in 1937 in rural Texas, an oil pipeline filled the underneath crawlspace of an elementary school with natural gas and was ignited while the building was occupied. Somewhere around 300 people died in the resulting explosion, the vast majority of them children. After this, the public responded by adding a chemical smell to natural gas (which otherwise is odorless). It was the highest loss of life in a public school in history.

To these two men who represent Christianity on the cable news channels, if there was more God then there would be less random deaths. But that charge would not hold water to the people of rural Texas in 1937 whose horrific experience captivated an entire nation (and world…Wikipedia said that Hitler himself sent condolences…Hitler!!).

Perhaps if the airwaves had fewer voices of this theologically vapid form of Christianity that crowds out more reasonable understandings of God, then people would better be able to know a God who loves, who is present, who is grieving, who is weeping, who feels what we feel (and then some), and wants a better world for our children. Because that God is more real to me than the God proclaimed on cable TV.

Am I alone in this?

Prayers for the people of Newtown, who hopefully have found theologically astute friends who, like Job’s friends (at first), who knew that all one can do is often sit and be present, silent in their comfort, nearby in their love. I pray each of them found someone like that last night and every night.

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  1. says

    You’re not in this alone. In these situations, I’m reminded of the verse, Luke, 13:4 to be exact, ” Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (NIV)
    Maybe this is a bit out of context, but when I hear people say we kicked God out of the school system and He isn’t obligated to save them, they’re missing this: God isn’t angry enough to pull his protection, specially if Christ didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery.

  2. PS anafterthought says

    Really,? Where God is “invited in” such as churches, Christian Schools, Christian homes, etc. nothing bad happens? Is Huckabee’s God so weak that He can’t get into every corner of everybody’s life?

  3. Lee says

    Huckabee and Fischer are saying, in effect, that God is an extortionist. “Nice little school you’ve got here, shame if something should happen to it. But if you all worship me every day, I’ll make sure nothing does.”

    They dress it up in pretty words, but that’s the underlying message.

  4. Sue Kimmet says

    Far from alone… God was there, as always where people need him/her. There is no law that can keep him out when. Those like Huckabee and Fischer have no understanding of that. Too bad that they are considered such good Christians and are in a position to lead so many people astray. As C.S. Lewis said (in my obviously very bad paraphrase for which I apologize), the biggest hazard to Christianity is ourselves, and those people turn so many away where Christianity is truly needed. My heart goes out to all those people who do not have enough faith to understand that you cannot keep God out of any place where he wants to be.

  5. Patrick says

    Jeremy, don’t hack a bad.hack with a bad.hack.

    The Texas tragedy wasn’t about an absence of God, it was about an absence of engineering. Both sides are wrong in the “God in the classroom” debate. We don’t need to legislate anything in or out. I think we should have God in every classroom in the world, but He needs to be there because He is being brought in by every student and teacher, and they bring Him in because they are each enfolded by His Love in the context of Christian community in their homes and churches. Too Pollyanna? The I think we shortchange why God ordained the church.

  6. Chip says

    The “god” proclaimed on cable TV is a horrific monster that dupes others into believing he is an angel of light. Is it any wonder, then, that his servants try (and so epically fail) to proclaim themselves as righteous in their service to him, instead of to Jesus?

  7. says

    I have to agree with some that your Texas analogy is a bit tenuous, and really is our corporate memory so bad that you have to go back to 1937? It has only been six years since the Nickle Mines shooting, which is a much better counter-example to expose these fallacious claims. Was God not “invited” into an Amish school?


  1. […] of large-scale influence he has. United Methodist elder Jeremy Smith posted the following at his Hacking Christianity blog: So the basic proposition by them both [Huckabee and Fischer] is that because God has been removed […]

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