If you are like me, after major school shootings, you see a meme that makes its way to people’s social media feeds with an illustration of the Christian image of God and claiming that God hasn’t stopped schools shootings because God isn’t allowed in schools.
One might think this sort of thing is circulated only by Christian fundamentalists, but I’ve seen it posted by people who otherwise have shown themselves to be fairly open-minded. Do these people really think a significant part of the problem with school shootings has to do with the presence or lack thereof of God?
Yet, there are so many more questions. Let’s start with this one — if these people want God in schools, are they okay with having everyone’s God in schools? Would a Christian feel like God was present if teachers read passages from the Torah? What if instruction was interrupted for a mandatory prayer to Mecca? After all, if not everyone can have an expression of their God in school, doesn’t that leave some with a God-less school day?
Why do people assume the presence of religious exercises and rituals results in the absence of human failings? Do they really believe that if prayers are spoken within the walls of a school, it will provide superior protection versus stopping unhinged disaffected people from legally buying semi-automatic weapons and hordes of ammunition? If prayers in the house of God can’t stop mass shootings, why does anyone expect them to solve the problem of mass shootings in schools?
Have people, presumably Christians, forgotten about the Holy Spirit? If there was ever a positive enlightening moment in my tenure as a parochial school parent, it was when our school’s priest talked about the Holy Spirit. He described it as the most conceptual, esoteric, part of the Trinity, but just as critical as the other two. It is the spiritual thread that connects us… all of us.
If God lives in us through the Holy Spirit, how is it that God is not in schools? For that matter, how is it that God is not in movie theaters or on dance floors or at country music festivals? We’re all there, right?
If you believe in God, do you honestly believe that God wasn’t with those 20 first-graders in Sandy Hook? Was God not with those 32 people at Virginia Tech? Was God on a dinner break when Dylann Roof killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina? Are these people saying God wasn’t there when babies were shot point blank at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas? In these last two cases, people were there for the specific purpose of worshipping God, so how is it God wasn’t there?
If God makes a difference in gun deaths, then why does he seem to be everywhere else in the world but here?
Because guns are not God’s problem; they are our problem.