Mike Huckabee has been trying to explain his explanation for the Sandy Hook tragedy both in this video and in this very similar post on his website.
Huckabee claims it would be "ludicrous and simplistic" to claim a direct causal relation between removing prayer from school and mass murder. I am glad we agree at least on this point. But his explanation of a more indirect cultural influence seems riddled with holes and gaps. He claims:
"But the cause and effect we see in the dramatic changes of what our children are capable of is a part of a cultural shift from a God-centered culture to a self-centered culture...We dismiss the notion of natural law and the notion that there are moral absolutes and seemed amazed when some kids make it their own morality to kill innocent children."
This is the point at which it seems to me that the whole discussion of the purported secularization of our society is totally disconnected from the tragedy at Sandy Hook. It seems to me that Huckabee imagines that this horrific event was caused by a young man who was simply too heavily influenced by a self-centered culture that dismisses moral absolutes.
This person was sick, deeply sick, and it seems much more accurate to think that internal psychological forces played a much bigger role in this event than did the external influence of American culture in general. And, again, who in American society is really questioning the morality of slaughtering school children? There is a reason, after all, why we have all been crying.
I don't think this young man thought it was ok to kill children because his culture failed to offer strong enough moral parameters. Huckabee seems to imagine this person was a moral relativist who would argue that while killing kids may be wrong for you, it is not wrong for me. As if any rational deliberations went into this horrific event in the first place.
A bigger problem with his clarification about what he said is that the whole argument rests on the assumption that until up to about 50 years ago we were a pretty Godly nation. If Huckabee were an African-American, I doubt he would be making this argument. He writes nostalgically of the good ole days when kids just had good, clean fun:
"...we got in trouble at school for talking in class, chewing gum, pulling a girl’s pigtails, or slouching in our school desks. We took guns to school, to be sure, but they were in the gun racks of our trucks and we used them to hunt before and after school. It never occurred to us to use them to murder our teachers and fellow students. ...when we as a nation feared God, we didn’t fear that a 20 year old with a high powered rifle would gun down our children in their schoolrooms."
Ok, first off, for virtually every student in the American public school system, it still never occurs to them to murder their teachers and fellow students. It isn't as though "kids these days" think murder is the cool thing to do. We are talking about a very small number of tragically sick people, not a new social trend.
But notice how distorted and narrow Huckabee's views of our society from his days in school are. When he was a student, African-Americans in his part of the country routinely had to worry about violence being perpetrated against them.
Those were only the good ole days for some people. For many people, about 50 years ago was when we started even remotely becoming a society that could claim to believe in a God who created human beings equal.
Huckabee claims that "when we as a nation feared God" we didn't have to worry about stuff like this happening. I honestly have no idea what historical period he could be referring to. Is it the time when we systematically killed Native Americans and ran them off their land? Or is it when we systematically enslaved African-Americans and believed they were less than human and backed that up with the Bible? Or was it more recently when we systematically denied women full and equal participation in church, education, the economy, and politics?
Banning religious symbols from public spaces seems small potatoes to the ways in which we have systematically pushed God and God's values out of our lives in the past.
I really don't think that God is in heaven on his cosmic throne worrying about being marginalized. I think God is much more concerned with the people we marginalize in his name.
As a fellow white male, I agree with Huckabee that "we" didn't have much to worry about back then. But "they" certainly did.
There is no golden age to look back to. Let's stop talking as if there was.
There is only a kingdom to look forward to. Let's keep working to make it come on earth as it is in heaven.