In the aftermath of Newtown, Conn., and other tragedies of loss and violence, there are always words shared trying to find comfort, meaning and sense in a comfortless, meaningless and senseless act. Words are often shared by well-meaning and faithful people who want to say “something.”
As senior pastor at College Hill United Methodist Church, I can appreciate and understand; I have done it myself from time to time without thinking of how the words might be heard and received. But what I do not understand is how talk-show host Mike Huckabee, who is a pastor, would go on a national news program and imply that God was involved in the shooting, either directly, indirectly or because God was “ordered” out of our schools.
The idea that we or anyone else could “order” God – in whom we live and breathe and have our being, according to the Apostle Paul – out of anywhere is absurd at best. To claim we as a nation have removed prayer from school is simply untrue. Student-led prayer and individual prayer have never been removed from school. The only prayer removed is my making you pray with me.
That being said, our schools are in place to serve all of our citizens, those who pray as well as those who do not, and our government is called to the same purpose, as Huckabee knows. His statements were not statements of faith; they were statements of politics and fear, certainly not about a God of love incarnate.
In my opinion, to even imply that God had somehow abandoned those children and teachers and administrators and subjected them to bloodshed and violence is abhorrent to the Spirit and the God of love that should be especially celebrated this time of year, and would be the equivalent of theological malpractice and another way to victimize those who are suffering and mourning.
Children have been frightened enough; they do not deserve to be frightened of God as well. They deserve to know they are cherished, embraced and loved beyond measure by us, and by God.
KENT H. LITTLE