Mike Huckabee has taken to his Facebook account to ask his followers to share a clip of him explaining just where God was during the massacre in Newtown, CT. Here's the clip. If you haven't seen it, watch it.
Huckabee dismisses the criticisms of the "predictable Left" in the course of his monologue on God and Newtown, which comes as no surprise. I don't expect Mike Huckabee to change his mind any time soon, but as I've watched the clip a few times, trying to maintain an open view to his perspective about why we shouldn't be surprised that the massacre occurred, a few things continue to bug me.
1. His "we've taken God out of schools, so obviously bad things will happen there" argument is just nonsensical. Many other developed nations are much more secular than America yet have significantly lower rates of firearm related deaths and of school massacres like this one. As I mentioned recently, when compared with other high-income countries, our countries firearm homicide rates are 19.5 times higher.
If God cares as much about public and official government recognition as Huckabee seems to think God does and if the lack of that means that we should expect evil things to happen to our children, then why aren't countries like Britain, Germany, and Sweden experiencing school massacres on a regular basis?
2. Huckabee expressly says that he did not mean that if we had state-sanctioned prayer in schools that the shooting would not have occurred, but then goes on to say that the people in this country who are trying to make sure that we uphold both the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of our Constitution are the problem. I fail to see how a lawsuit that argues for not allowing one religious tradition to do something without affording all religious traditions the same opportunity (holiday messages or displays in town squares and at court houses, for instance) is the cause of someone deciding to massacre kindergarteners and their teachers.
3. "Tax-funded abortion pills." Come on Mike Huckabee, you work for a "news" organization, you should know better than this. There is no such thing as a "tax-funded abortion pill."
4. God did show up in Newtown once the tragedy began. Huckabee says that God did actually show up in Newtown in teachers saving students' lives, in comfort offered to others, in Obama's remarks, etc. It seems to me that the logical question is, "Why didn't God show up 30 minutes earlier and stop the tragedy altogether?" It's not exactly comforting or logical for Huckabee to claim that we shouldn't be surprised when God doesn't show up and horrible tragedies like this take place one minute and - literally - the next minute to say that God did actually show up, just not in time to save the lives of 6 adults and 20 children. What kind of morbid God is that?
5. Simply teaching and observing "thou shalt not kill" will somehow make all of this stop. Haven't Jews and Christians been teaching this very teaching for thousands of years now and yet we still have violence, and a lot of it, in our world. Yet, oddly, in a country where 78.4% of the population identifies as "Christian" and this message is no doubt taught on a regular basis, we have the worst crime rate of all similarly industrialized countries, many of which are significantly less "Christian" than we are. Also, this simple solution that Huckabee is offering wasn't able to stop the God-condoned genocide in the Bible's conquest narratives, the Crusades, or the bombing of abortion clinics by Christians. Not to mention the utter lack of care that our country - a "Christian nation" - kills innocent men, women, and children around the world on a regular basis with drone strikes and gets away with it by labeling them - even children - as "enemy combatants." Something tells me that simply teaching the 6th commandment isn't going to fix our country's penchant for killing each other.
I truly can appreciate that Mike Huckabee is offering what he thinks is the right response in the wake of this tragedy. Also, I'm not saying he isn't really a Christian or that his response isn't the "Christian response" to the shootings. But I am saying that I think he is wrong and that his statements are simply illogical.
I understand the conservative evangelical perspective on matters like these, having grown up in that vein of Christianity and having even received a Master of Divinity degree from a (moderate) baptist divinity school. I know that to answer the problem of evil - how can the following simultaneously co-exist: God is all-powerful, God is all-good, and evil exists? - evangelical Christianity rests on the doctrine of "the Fall." But I also know that this is not the only response to evil in the world, even within the Christian tradition, and, in my opinion, it is neither the most compelling nor the most logical. (I'd be glad to have a discussion at some point about various Christian responses to the problem of evil, but this post is already long enough).
Our country has a lot of problems, but truly honoring principles of religious freedom and working against a state-sponsored religion so that every citizen, regardless of religious affiliation, can be treated with dignity and respect is not one of them.
P.S. For some responses to the tragedy by other Christian voices read Rachel Held Evans' latest piece, "God can't be kept out," or following Diana Butler Bass on twitter.