The Religious Right's Shameful Exploitation of the Newtown Massacre
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:45:33 PM EST
It's commonplace for Religious Right leaders to blame the godlessness of Americans for hurricanes, tornadoes, the 911 attack, and the gay rights movement. And, as someone who regularly monitors and writes about the Religious Right's activities, I am seldom surprised by the events its leaders ascribe to godlessness. Nevertheless, even I was shocked by the comments of two nationally prominent conservative religious leaders in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school murders.

Two of the most shameful observations about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 26 people, including 20 children, came from Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor, Fox Television Channel news contributor, and host of a Saturday night Fox television program, and Joel Rosenberg, the best-selling author of apocalyptic novels.

On Friday, the day of the massacre, Huckabee, who often comes across as affable and occasionally sensible, responded to the shootings by saying that the incident was no surprise because we have "systematically removed God" from public schools.

"We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools," Huckabee said on Fox News. "Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we've made it a place where we don't want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability -- that we're not just going to have be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before, you know, a holy God in judgment. If we don't believe that, then we don't fear that."

Huckabee was echoing a similar stance he took in late-July following the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shootings. At the time, Huckabee said that "We don't have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we've ordered god out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn't act so surprised... when all hell breaks loose."

Joel Rosenberg is not nearly as well-known a public figure as Mike Huckabee, but he is nevertheless a formidable figure on the Religious Right as an author of several best-selling apocalyptic novels and several non-fiction works on the Middle East.

His Flash Traffic post titled "Implosion Update: The Demons of Violence are on the Loose in America. But Why? And Where Do We Go From Here?" pointed out that "It's not just "the economy, stupid." We are, in many respects, in a moral and spiritual freefall in our country, and we are paying a terrible price."

Rosenberg maintained that "The demons of violence and lawlessness are the loose all across America ... . [and] the further we turn away from God in our nation -- the further we drive Him out of our society, our of our schools and courts, and out of our media and out of our homes, or the more we give mere lip service to religion, the more men are "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power" (2 Timothy 3:5) -- the worse things are getting."

Rosenberg asked readers to "Consider the cultural war against Jesus and Christmas that has been waged just in the last few days," and he went on to cite several recent headlines:

  • Fox News headline: "Holiday message: Atheists dub Jesus a `myth' on Times Square billboard"
  • CNN column, "Have yourself a merry atheist Christmas"
  • AP article about the "War on Christmas"
  • Fox News story about a rapper singing about a "Gangbanger Jesus"
  • KTVA-TV (Alaska) story: "Atheists Wage War on Christmas in Anchorage: Anti-religion signs on People Mover buses"
  • Comedy Central's Jon Stewart wages war on Christmas and mocks those who thinks he's wrong

He added: "The Lord God Almighty is a gentleman. He won't force us to accept His great love and many blessings. If a nation tells Him to leave, He will leave. But what are we reaping as a result of a society that increasingly ignores God and hates or dismisses Jesus Christ? We are witnessing a horrifying explosion of murder. We are witnessing a gruesome crime wave unprecedented in American history. And there appears to be no end in sight. In recent years, we've seen brutal mass murders in high schools, on college campuses, and in small towns all across America (a recent FBI report says the murder rate soared 18.3% in small towns in America last year alone)."

Rosenberg cautioned that "there is a point of no return - a point at which God removes His hand of grace and mercy and turns to the judgment of America."

In a piece that runs for hundreds of words, Rosenberg never once mentions the word gun (he uses the word "gunman"  twice, and the phrase "gunned down" once). He never advocates for responsible or sensible gun control, never acknowledges the epidemic of guns in this country. Not once. Never ever.

We can no longer afford to stay silent. It is the moral imperative of our leaders -- secular and religious -- to respond to this latest tragedy as a call to action. And Huckabee, Rosenberg and their brethren, should be ashamed of their callous response to the pain of others.




Display:
are those which state that, because abortion is legal, we have no right to grieve over real, living children who are murdered. This is less than a step away from Westboro. I actually expect them to start massacring children to prove their point.

by Rey Mohammed on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:03:36 PM EST
There are many things we can say about the Christian right and antiabortion leaders in particular, but this kind of absurd hyperbole is not helpful, Rey Mohammed.  Please refrain.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 04:50:41 PM EST
Parent


Rosenberg, Dobson, Huckabee and Fischer show there is absolutely no low to which they won't sink to deliver their political message. They think of God in their image, small, petty-minded, and vindictive. I would doubt the families of the victims find any comfort in their messages.

by khughes1963 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:16:33 PM EST

Back in 199 during the horror of Columbine, Flip Benham, head of Operation Save America (offshoot or something of Operation Rescue) claimed the actions of the young men were because of abortion. At the moment he said that, Benham was trying to close a clinic where murdered doctor Bart Slepian had practiced. Benham was one of hundreds of anti-abortion zealots who either openly celebrated Bart's death or gave po-faced pretenses at sorrow while blaming Bart for his own demise. It is the religious right that has repeated the mantra for nearly 20 years that murder of someone with whom you deeply disagree is entirely "justifiable". THAT is what people learn and take to heart. Add in "stand your ground" and other faux Biblical "eye for an eye" assertions, and you will see why those who have a violent reaction to someone or something seem to have no qualms at all about killing the objects of their ire or even strangers who represent something to them. Mass murderers have no need to care about others or the consequences of their own actions. They've been told their anger and opposition is enough. And they learned this from the craven and despicable stand of very public religious right leaders. Why wouldn't shooters believe they have the same right to kill? They have it on very good authority.

by Churchlady on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:47:55 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


The President's Faith: A Matter Of Choice, Not Compulsion
Today President Barack Obama, who is the world's worst Muslim - he drinks alcohol and eats bacon - will do something many Muslims do......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Voting For Jesus?: Candidates Seek To Outdo One Another With Religiosity
The Iowa caucuses are today, and, despite what you may have heard, Jesus Christ is not appearing on the ballot.Several of his close friends......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Conventional Wisdom Watch: Getting it Wrong about the Religious Right
It is a case of the more things change the more things stay the same. I wrote a short post in 2008 about how......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Club Fight: Tenn. Residents Complain About High School's Gay-Straight Alliance
At public schools around the country, students, mostly high schoolers, are forming Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. Fundamentalist Christians often freak out over the existence of......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Zionism and Eschatology
The church I attend just had a member place a display at the back of a Sunday morning Bible class.  The display called for......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Save The Day: Celebrating Real Religious Freedom
Saturday is Religious Freedom Day. While it's not one of our most well-known or popular holidays, Religious Freedom Day shouldn't be overlooked. Our country......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Warning of Theocratic Zones of Control
This week, I published a report -- months in the making --  titled, When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Moore Grandstanding: Ala. Chief Justice Tries Again To Block Marriage Equality
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore last week tried, once again, to block marriage equality in that state.There is no case pending before......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and Maureen Mullarkey Share the 2015 Coughlin Award!
Yes, folks it's that time of the year again. It's time for the presentation of the annual Coughlin Award. As it is every......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
All Quiet on the War on Christmas Front
It is time for my annual response to the preposterous-but-malevolent claims broadcast on Fox News and elsewhere that there is a War on Christmas.......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Christian Right: Inviting Cruz or Trump to Tea?
With Republican candidate Ben Carson dropping like a stone in a pool of confusion, who gets invited to the tea party? Tea Party activists......
By Chip Berlet (2 comments)
A Plethora Of Pulpit Politicking Problems?: Far-Right Pastors Prepare For Electoral Bids
The state of Tennessee used to have a law that banned members of the clergy from running for public office. The U.S. Supreme Court......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
Trump: An Apocalyptic Messenger for the Christian Right
We stand in the overflow crowd of some 300 in the small town of Tyngsborough near the New Hampshire border. Several thousand people are......
By Chip Berlet (3 comments)
Trump's Demagoguery Threatens Democracy Itself
Now is the time for blunt talk. Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue generating "scripted violence." Trumpism threatens not just the First Amendment but......
By Chip Berlet (3 comments)
Irony Implosion: Pat Robertson Opposes Politics Masquerading As Religion
TV preacher Pat Robertson and I go way back. In 1996, I wrote a book about him, and I've followed his career since.I long......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (4 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (1 comment)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (6 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.