This column was originally posted in the December 19, 2012 Columbia Missourian. However, I have received requests to make this column available to a broader audience.
Holidays should be about peace, love and joy.
This is not an essay about gun control. After Friday’s horrific murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., those calls are being made far better by others.
No, this essay is about the most holy of Christian holidays and the related winter holidays of peace and the return of life to the planet. This is about religion and how a few are using faith as an excuse for the school shootings we have seen since April 1999 and Columbine.
It started within hours of the shootings in Newtown, when former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee blamed the massacre on the lack of God in the classroom.
Huckabee told Fox News, “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?”
He was not the only one who claimed that God is taking his vengeance on innocent children and adults. Bryan Fischer, director of issues analysis for the American Family Association and host of “Focal Point” on American Family Radio, told his audience that because “God is not going to go where he is not wanted. … We have spent 50 years telling God to get lost.”
Instead of calling for real action to curb gun violence in the United States, Penny Nance, CEO and president of the Christian-based Concerned Women for America, told NewsOneNow.com:
“We are absolutely broken-hearted and devastated like the rest of the nation — and our only hope, we know, is in God. … The less that people look to morality and to biblical principles like “Thou shalt not kill” and the Ten Commandments, the more we need the police to keep us all safe and the more we have to have metal detectors at our schools.”
Really? Do they really believe this?
As I have said many times before, I am an atheist, but I am not anti-religion. I abhor stupidity and those who use horrendous tragedies to proselytize their religion. I am repulsed by those senseless claims that if a person does not believe as they do, their god or gods will seek vengeance — even allow for the deaths of innocents at the hands of an all too human fatalist.
It is not just me and my atheist brethren. Many in Christian societies have recognized the error of such claims as irresponsible and contrary to Christian belief. Others are asking if God was not allowed in shopping malls or movie theaters as well.
The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn wrote Sunday, “But why would God bless the memory of the victims when the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God made this happen?”
Why blame atheists and secular humanists for the action of one man who may have had a mental defect and easy access to guns? Why blame the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment, documents that the religious right cherish as much as their Bibles, for our secular nation?
Words cannot balance the sorrow and anger I have concerning the death of 20 children and eight adults, including 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza.
I am equally angered at those who claim to represent a religion of peace and love as they quote Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord,” (NIV) to somehow justify the murder of innocent men, women and children.
It is my belief that people such as Huckabee, Fischer and others of their ilk broadcast loud and clear their own immorality by denouncing and demonizing those of different or non-belief and their unsubstantiated claims that their religions are being threatened.
The winter holidays are not about hate and vengeance. They are about peace, love, life and joy.
May this find you well and in great spirits for the solstice, Chanukah and Christmas. Shalom, Salaam, Peace.
(Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:37 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 19, 2012 http://www.columbiamissourian.com/a/157046/david-rosman-holidays-should-be-about-peace-love-and-joy/#c55888)