Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer, both of the Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand-you persuasion, say the Newtown , Conn. , massacre happened because God got expelled from public schools.
Huckabee is a former Arkansas governor, failed GOP presidential candidate, Fox News bloviator and ordained Southern Baptist minister. He said on Fox that the murders of 26 people, all but six of them children, didn’t surprise him.
“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee posited. “Should we be so surprised that schools have become a place of carnage?”
Fischer is a radio host with the conservative Christian American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as a hate group. He is notorious for his anti-gay rants.
Said he of the shootings: “…In 1962, we kicked prayer out of the schools. In 1963, we kicked the word of God out of schools. In 1980, we kicked the Ten Commandments out of 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 gentleman.’”
So in the midst of our national anguish over yet another senseless slaughter of innocents by a deranged gunman, two self-proclaimed disciples of the Prince of Peace imply that blood wouldn’t have been spilled if kids could only pray in school.
Kids were praying at Heath High School , Ky. , on Dec. 1, 1997, when a homicidal 14-year-old fellow student pulled a pistol and opened fire on them. He murdered three in the prayer circle and wounded five others.
I remember that tragedy all to well. When it happened, I was getting ready for my morning history class at the nearby community college where I’ve taught for going on 23 years.
Of course, what Huckabee and Fischer lament is the absence of their version of public school prayer: Protestant, fundamentalist and mandated by school officials. The Ten Commandments Fischer misses is the Protestant variant.
Huckabee and Fischer are the worst sort of religious bigots, cheap hustlers who ever fan the flames of fear and intolerance. The courts did not outlaw voluntary prayer. They banned school-sponsored prayer.
The judges’ reasoning was sound, based on the constitution and supported by many, if not most, Christians:
-- All of us pay taxes to support our public schools, but not all of us are Christians.
-- School-sponsored prayer of any kind breaches what Thomas Jefferson famously called the “wall of separation between Church & State” erected by the First Amendment to the constitution.
Jefferson wrote that in an 1802 letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Conn., which is not far from Newtown .
Baptists were a minority in early 19th century Connecticut , where Congregationalism was the official state church. Hence, the Baptists feared the Congregationalist-dominated state government might take away their religious liberty.
While the First Amendment separates church and state -- to the everlasting benefit of both -- it also guarantees kids the right to pray on their own in school.
Prayer is alive and well at our college. We’ve had ceremonies on campus where some Christian faculty and students have gathered around the flagpole to pray under the Stars and Stripes.
“As long as there are history tests, there will be prayer in school,” I’ve been telling my classes for years.
One of my students even brought a little New Testament and laid it on her desk on a test day. “It calms me,” she said.
“Fine with me,” I replied, joshing, “as long as you don’t have a cheat sheet hidden inside it.” She didn’t and made an A on the test.
The high school where my wife teaches also has flagpole prayer sessions. There is an active Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, too.
I grew up in the Presbyterian Church – my wife of going on 33 years is a Presbyterian elder. Melinda and I thank the Good Lord that Huckabee and Fisher do not speak for us or the great majority of American Christians. Like us, most Christians are repelled by their spitefulness.
Fischer runs in same GOP circles as Huckabee. At one time or another, 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum were guests on his show.
Fischer didn’t invite Mitt Romney, a Mormon. Fischer thinks Mormonism is a false religion.
As far as I know, Fischer isn't running for anything. My guess is he couldn't get elected dog catcher.
But I wonder if Huckabee, the old pol, saw the shooting as another opportunity to score political points with the white folks in the “You can’t be a Christian and a liberal” crowd who are still smarting over the fact that we reelected the “Gay-Kenyan-born-hell-bound-tool-of-Satan-Islamo-Socialist-who-hates-God-fearing-white-people” to another term as president.
“God’s gonna run from people like them,” Dr. Roy O. Hatton, my history professor at my alma mater, Murray State University, prognosticated about various villains in American history.
He died a while back. But I can almost hear him predicting that the Good Lord would flee from hate-mongers Huckabee and Fischer.