This post is, perhaps, a bit more of a rant than most. So . . . enjoy.
The horrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut was a national tragedy.
I think that that is one thing on which most of us can agree. I will not regurgitate the upsetting details here. Because I want to talk about the response to the shooting—the things on which we do not all agree.
A lot of people are blaming the lack of access to mental health services in many places in the US.
A lot of people are blaming the easy access to guns throughout the US.
There are some loony people who are blaming outlandish things. I mean, for one thing, the idea that prayer being “banned” from schools is responsible for the shooting would be an absurd and, frankly, insulting concept even if prayer were banned in schools. But, I mean, it is not. I went to public school. Some students pray before they eat their food at lunch. My high school did not, to my knowledge, have an Abstinence Club, but there was a Fellowship Of Christian Athletes and they certainly prayed. I know that students might pray fervently and silently before, during, and after taking particularly important tests. Some students pray during the raising of the flag in the morning, though for the life of me I have no idea which school club or what is responsible for doing that.
What people complain about being banned is mandatory prayer in schools. And people complain about exclusive prayer in schools. When you go to a friend’s house and his or her family prays before a meal, it is polite to remain silent as it happens and to wait before you eat and perhaps to hold hands—depending upon the customs of your friend’s family. That’s called being polite, and you are at a friend’s house of your own volition. School is a very different situation. No mandatory, teacher-led, or student-let classroom prayer could ever be “non-denominational” enough to not exclude at least some of the religious students. And, oh by the way, not all students are religious at all. There is no need to bully students of minorities (or majorities) by excluding them. Formal and informal student-groups and afterschool clubs are more than sufficient for any student religious group.
I have even heard some proponents of “bringing prayer back to our schools” speak as if those students (and parents) who object to institutional prayer in schools are invading parties. That is not the case. Even if that mattered, I know that my family has been in this particular county of this particular state since before the Civil War. We have not invaded anywhere recently.
Interestingly, Mike Huckabee and the Westboro Baptist Church (that’s the “God Hates Fags” group) seem to have similar views on the shooting. Mike Huckabee has blamed “taxpayer-funded abortion pills” (his concept of reality is a little shaky) and other signs of the US having laws differing from those of conservative Christianity for the shooting. The Westboro Baptist Church (that’s Fred Phelps’ thing and, oh by the way, he is …