Leaders of Christian Right Respond to Newtown Massacre, Fail to Mention Guns
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 10:41:40 AM EST
Christian Right leaders continue to insist that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which took the lives of 26 people, including 20 six and seven-year-old children, happened because Americans have turned their backs on God.

The list of prominent Religious Right leaders spewing this unholy venom now includes Dr. James Dobson, the founder and former head of Focus on the Family, Bryan Fischer, a popular  American Family Association talk-show host, and Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of the tax-exempt Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

These men are bound and determined to look every which way for reasons for the massacre - abortion, same-sex marriage, video games - except at one  staring them in their faces; the uncontrolled and widespread accessibility of guns in this country.

Dr. James Dobson, the founder, and former head of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family, and still one of the most influential Religious Right leaders, recently commented: "Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I'm not talking politically, I'm not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God."

Speaking to listeners of his "Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk" program, Dobson added: "I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn't exist, or he's irrelevant to me and we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too.

"And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that's what's going on."

Bryan Fischer, who has more than earned the reputation as the American family Association's top in-house mudslinger said the victims at Sandy Hook had lost God's protection because prayer has been prohibited from the public school system.

"The question is going to come up, where was God?," Fischer said. "I thought God cared about the little children. God protects the little children. Where was God when all this went down. Here's the bottom line, God is not going to go where he is not wanted. "Now we have spent since 1962 -- we're 50 years into this now--we have spent 50 years telling God to get lost, telling God we do not want you in our schools, we don't want to pray to you in our schools, we do not want to pray to your before football games, we don't want to pray to you at graduations, we don't want anybody talking about you in a graduation speech...

"In 1962 we kicked prayer out of the schools. In 1963 we kicked God's word out of ours schools. In 1980 we kicked the Ten Commandments out of our schools. We've kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us, 'Hey, I'll be glad to protect your children, but you've got to invite me back into your world first. I'm not going to go where I'm not wanted. I am a gentlemen."

Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham and the man who would like to be seen as America's Preacher, has proved that it's possible to write a response to the Newtown Massacre and not mention the word gun at least once. His response to the Newtown Massacre is a short essay titled "Connecticut Shootings: Why Shock and Awe?" 

Graham pointed out that "God punished Cain for taking innocent life but the violent shedding of blood has continued for centuries. Why?"
"The Bible," he noted, "answers this question with certainty," Graham cites Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." He adds: "In fact, the Bible gives clear testimony to just how evil the human race became." `The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord "was grieved in His heart" (Gen. 6:5-6)."

"Where do we go from here?," Graham wrote.

"We might start by looking at what we watch and listen to." 

Graham takes a potshot at President Obama. "For example, South Korean rapper sensation Psy, who has gained worldwide acclaim by singing that Americans should be killed `slowly and painfully,' including, `daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers' was featured last weekend at `Christmas in Washington,' a charity concert attended by President Obama. Parents and children are feeding on entertainment that portrays violence whether through lewd television programs, violent movies, offensive music, vulgar video games and anything- goes Internet gaming sites."

Finally, this past Sunday, The Rev. Sam Morris warned his Tennessee flock at Old Paths Baptist Church that "We get all up in arms about 20 children being shot in a day care but we don't give one good-glory rip about the 4,000 that were removed violently from the wombs of their mothers [in abortion procedures] the same day."

"I believe they use children and Christmas and all that to pull on our heart strings about gun control. That's what it's all about."

As the Huffington Post's Meredith Bennett-Smith reported, "Morris went on to criticize public schools, which he said teach children about evolution, sex and `how to be a homo.'"

One thing can be said with near certainty; Columns, talk-show observations and written commentaries by Dobson, Graham, Fischer and Morris are not providing any relief or comfort to the families of the victims.

Bill, your last paragraph is very important. Both sides of the political or religious spectrum, and good people of all kinds of special interests have been deeply touched by this senseless violence. A tragic event like this brings out my desire to fix the problem. This sorrow for a community and many families personally touched by senseless violence and grief is beyond repair. There is no fix - families my have another child, but nothing can be done to repair the loss of a loved child. No amount of revenge, or financial compensation brings healing - by the grace of God, the miracle of human resilience, the support of family and friends, with the passing of time most will endure and bear their sorrow, continue on with their life, and forever feel that empty place where their memory of grief remains. It is difficult to support from a distance - but it is very easy to make the grief that much harder to bear. Perhaps the best lesson clergy could take from this great suffering in Newtown, would be that there are people in nearly every family and neighborhood who grieve and often suffer in silence. A listening ear, a patient cup of coffee, a hug or shared tear, the giving of your time in a busy schedule might just lighten the load for some family member or neighbor. Neither tougher laws, nor bigger jails will bring safety to the vulnerable of society. Compassion - sharing the good and bad of life - and listening to those to afraid or beaten/weighed down with grief/fear/worry/poverty/illness or loneliness might be a simple start to making our family, neighborhood, community, nation and world a safer, happier place to life.

by chaplain on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 06:22:53 PM EST

The Religious Right just sees this as another attempt to grandstand for its worldview, no matter how hurtful it is.

by khughes1963 on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 09:30:33 PM EST

The NRA and the fundamentalist Christian Right are attempting to tag Hollywood as the complete perpetrator of the evils in America.

Yet, we can be sure that thousands, if not millions, of NRA members, as well as those in the Christian Right and evangelical churches, have under their Christmas trees, as I write, video games and movies that proliferate the virtual pursuit of murder in the minds of children, teens, and adults.  In the homes of Christians throughout America over the next 24 to 48 hours and infinately beyond, human and spiritual dignity will be virtually slaughtered repeatedly on a video screen using guns, bombs, and other killing devices.  In addition, tens of thousands of guns will be given as "Christ-mas" gifts, on what should be a holy day of worship and gratefullness in the Christian home.  All of the material things given will be given under the guise of American "freedoms" and "rights".

Since the Newtown massacre, this verse from 1 Corinthians 8:9 has played over and over in my mind:

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." (NIV)

I believe Adam Lanza's mother would see her error in judgment of promoting weapons use, and likely video games, too, in her house were she still alive today.

And for those of us remaining, there needs to be a deep query, first to ourselves and then to God, examining our fervor for weapons rights and possession, as well as obcession with virtual violence.  Such selfishness, ignoring the impact of our own desires on others, is in violation of the scripture cited above.  

When situations like Newtown's massacre arise, there is a strong tendency for the Christian Right and evangelicals to talk more about "defending" parts of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, and less about how those who follow Christ have caused another to stumble.  Essentially, such concern for the right to "things" and "possessions" is usurping the scriptural commandment of love we should have for our neighbors.

What we have done to the least of these (the children and teachers at Newtown), we have done to Christ.

by Tuf on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 02:03:32 AM EST

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