Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Aftermath

I have been ensconced in a profound sense of grief, emptiness and unease ever since I started following the terrible and senseless tragedy at the Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut - a tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 innocent children, as well as 7 adults, including the lone gunman. As concerned folks - the families of the victims, the survivors, the administration, and the public at large - try to make sense of the incident, several pertinent lines of dialog have already emerged - on the issues of gun control legislation and mental health. Some ugly-arse craziness has inevitably surfaced, too, like the suggestion that school children be allowed to carry guns. However, I won't get into those discussions in this post.

As seems to be mandatory in the United States, there is an over-abundance of piety in the public sphere after any tragedy of this scale. Although I find no comfort in meaningless religious platitudes, the believers seem to - and in any event, it shows that at least people are thinking about the tragedy and feeling an empathy towards the grieving families and friends of the victims and survivors. However, oftentimes, the overly-religious folks fail to understand where to draw the line between expressing commiserations and behaving odiously by trying to shove a dollop of religious myths and superstitions down the throats of the unwary vulnerable. Blogger Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) indicated an instance in a post today, where some deluded Christian schmuck has framed the vile murder of those 20 children as them receiving the "Best Christmas present ever - the presence of our God and our Lord Jesus Christ". I almost puked. Or this, what the Monsignor Robert Weiss, of the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, told the folks congregated for a vigil in memory of the victims: "I think about these children ... and I know we have 20 new saints, 20 new angels..."

To me, it appears rather insensitive, this propensity for falling back on religious mythology in the wake of such a terrible tragedy. But I can perhaps still understand their feelings - them trying to cope with the grief in the only way they know, as believers. However, if you want really despicable and repugnant, take a good, long look at these two yesterday - Bryan Fischer of the loathsome American Family Association, and erstwhile Republican Presidential contender, Mike Huckabee - two ghouls who lost no time in utilizing yesterday's tragedy to advocate reversing the Constitutional separation between Church and State. Both Huckabee and Fischer claimed that restrictions on school prayer and religious materials in the classroom were responsible in part for the mass shooting. What wonderful epitomes of Christian love and charity, no?

I was perhaps naive to think that common people, even Christian folks, would not pay heed to this utter idiocy. Was I wrong!!! This morning, I got to learn from my Facebook feed that there is a photo of T-shirt graffiti being shared on Facebook (I shall NOT post that photo), especially by American Christians, including those on my friend list. It says this:
"Dear God, why do you allow such violence in our schools? Signed, A Concerned Student
Dear Concerned Student, I'm not allowed in schools. --God"
Notice anything familiar? I held myself back from saying a lot - especially since many of the folks sharing this abomination are my friends. So, I left them with 3 thoughts:
  1. In the scriptures of any religion, god is considered to be omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Do you, my believer friends, really believe that “not allowed in schools” is a good enough reason for the said god not to intervene to prevent this senseless tragedy?
  2. By this "logic", schools in the irreligious Scandinavian countries should have been decimated by now, but they are doing fine.
  3. If absence of god was the cause of this massacre, how would you explain the shooting death of 7 folks in April, 2012, in an Oakland, CA, Christian university?
I don't even want to go into the logical inconsistency of asking for intervention from a god who allegedly sent two bears to maul 42 children to death for making fun of some dude's bald head (2 Kings 2:23-24).

Please, my Christian friends, many of you are parents, and I am sure, loving, compassionate human beings. I know you, like all of us, are trying to deal with immense grief and make sense of this horrendous tragedy. Keep the victims and their bereaved families in your prayers. But please, for goodness’ sake, don't follow the footsteps of utterly despicable fools like Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee.


  1. When a big tragedy happens (personal or public) I am actually okay if people need to find solace in their religion and/or place of worship. I just despise it when the tragedy is brought down to the level of religion. I despise it when the reasoning is done with religion and the Christian right takes one issues and spins it to benefit their campaigns. This is nothing but an attempt to use a major public tragedy where people lost their children to benefit their version of the education debate. Why is it so difficult to keep religion out of schools, the public sector in this country where the constitution was written by people who were the strongest supporters of the separation of church and state? How are politicians slowly "religionizing" the public forum and getting away with it? Why doesnt the media talk about this?
    There's just so many inconsistencies in this whole thing it drives me bonkers. The constitutionalists are far right christian crazies (but that's not who they should be), the definition of the word "right" in this country doesn't look anything like the word "right" anywhere else on earth.
    Okay I'm done here. Clearly Im too angry and there's too much going on in this tiny brain of mine for me to be cogent.

  2. Every day in U.S. public schools, children almost certainly pray: "Jesus, help me pass this test." "God, please keep the bullies away from me today." "Jesus, help me save the atheists in my school from hell." There is nothing preventing such prayers.

    Do the Christians complaining that god is no longer allowed in public schools honestly not know that? Surely their god knows that, no?

    But silent individual prayer isn't good enough for them or apparently, their god.

    What they are upset about is that children are no longer being forced to pray as a group out loud to their particular god. And they're upset that children are no longer being taught that The Bible is the word of their one true god. And those facts allow mass shootings of kindergarten children.

    I guess the reason for this year's Sikh temple murders was that the Christian god wasn't there.

    And their god also wasn't at the Aurora theater or various malls where shootings have occurred, because atheists have taken god out of them too.

    As for the shooting at the Christian university, it's all part of their god's mysterious plan.