Question: Did the Connecticut school shooting occur because God and prayer have been almost completely removed from the public schools? Was the lack of Biblical morality a major factor?
Answer: There are times when I hear or read the words of a professing Christian and I have to cringe. That’s what occurred when I heard what Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said recently on Fox News just days after the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut. Part of me wanted to hide the fact that I follow Jesus.
Here are some of the words Mike Huckabee said on Fox News:
It’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve 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 do not want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us, but we stand one day before a holy God in judgment… Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end and we would not have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.
Why do I have a problem with what Huckabee said? Three reasons: 1) The poor timing of his comments; 2) He seems to be setting up an “us versus them” mentality, and 3) He gives others the impression that if we still had prayer and Christian morality in the schools this wouldn’t have happened.
First let me comment on the timing of his comments. I have non-Christian friends who are going to ask me, did you hear what Huckabee said? What do you think? And I am going to say exactly what I feel; he is an insensitive idiot.
What words do I think were needed at this time? We should have heard from Huckabee words of compassion, love, and support for the families hurting from the loss of their child. As a parent and grandfather, I cannot even imagine the pain those families are going through. I tear up whenever my mind thinks about this tragedy. The words of President Obama put what Huckabee said to shame. He spoke powerfully from the heart, which at the time was what was needed.
I could agree with some of what Huckabee said but his timing was insensitive to the situation. His words rang hollow in the minds of unbelievers. The Bible says as followers of Jesus Christ we are to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Huckabee was neither.
Second, his words seem to be promoting an “us versus them” mentality. His comments concerning the superiority of Christian morality can fuel this idea. How can we win people to Christ if our words erect barriers to the very people who need to hear about Jesus? We are called to operate within the boundaries of society and be ambassadors for Christ. And we need to be careful not to put ourselves on a pedestal looking down our noses at society. That’s how I think my friends will interpret his statement. Jesus said we are to be lights to the people around us. Our words can attract or repel.
As a retired public school teacher I realize schools are not perfect and make decisions I disagree with. I believe negative influences have increased as schools have become more secularized. I continually argue with friends and relatives about how our rights are being restricted in the public schools; such as the continued bombardment against our First Amendment rights (freedom of speech and religion) and the pushing of the far left moral agenda. However, I again go back to the timing and sensitivity issue. I think Huckabee’s words just after the incident were terribly insensitive.
As a follower of Christ I can properly influence public policy the same way any citizen can in this great nation of ours. I can do it in a way that doesn’t promote this “us versus them” mentality. My desire is to show love to all my non-Christian friends and to point them to Christ. I spent years trying to be a light for Christ on my campus. I found ways within the system to teach foundational moral truths in my classes that promoted the common good.
And finally, in the mind of the non-Christian it appears Huckabee is attempting use this horrible tragedy to push Christianity’s moral standards on the public schools. To them he is attributing the killing of innocent children as a judgment for removing God. How does Huckabee know this? How does he know this was the motive for the killer? The obvious answer is he doesn’t. He has a political agenda.
Huckabee needed to be a light when all he cast was darkness. There is a time and place for serious dialogue about issues concerning the public schools; but not a few days after the event. Now is the time to be praying and mourning with those who are hurting.
Huckabee should have taken the opportunity to encourage the Christian churches in the area. He could have challenged followers of Jesus all over the world to pray for the Christians in the community as they continue to meet the needs through meals, counseling, and other acts of kindness. The church needs ambassadors, not public school critics. Through our love we can point those hurting to eternal hope found only in Jesus.