Saturday, January 05, 2013

Shooter, not God, caused Newtown tragedy

Someone wrote a letter to the editor of my hometown newspaper, The North Kitsap Herald, and implied God used the Newtown tragedy to punish the country for legislating God out of the public sphere. Here's my response (and below) that was published on January 4th, as well as another good response from James Behrend:

I don’t doubt Don Wiens is well meaning (“Reaction to school shootings in Newtown,” page A4, Dec. 28 Herald). But when he implied that God didn’t prevent the Newtown shooting because we’ve legislated God out of public life, he parroted the standard conservative “Christian” line from the likes of James Dobson, Franklin Graham, and the American Family Association.

They’ve been touting a vindictive God for decades, stating mirrored threats at every national tragedy to scare and manipulate the populace to buy into their warped theology: the nation has fallen away from God (pushing prayer out of schools and permitting gay marriage) and divine judgment has prevailed. I know. For 25 years, I was a part of that movement and trace my spiritual evolution out of it in my book, “Confessions of a Bible Thumper.”

Wiens and his national counterparts overlook the heart of the very God they claim to serve. Jesus condemned public displays of religion, told his followers to pray in secret, and taught the reign of God is not about Old Testament-style retribution, but rather cultivating a kind heart, loving your enemies and fighting for social justice.

Wien’s citing a C.S. Lewis book as proof of divine judgment is also misguided. A loving God may not always be “safe” because His justice is restorative — He has a knack for winning over renegades — not because He’s vindictive.

The truth is, the Newtown shooter was a home-schooled, mentally ill loner whose mother had an arsenal of guns. His deranged act wasn’t God’s instrument of justice for our rejection of fundamentalist religion. There may be underlying reasons for violence in our society, but God’s revenge isn’t one of them.

Michael Camp
Poulsbo, WA

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