God is not the X in this Equation
Every time I decide I’m going to be quiet about something, the universe says, “You, be quiet? Girl, please!” So of course, despite the fact that I promised myself not to beat a dead horse by joining the debate about the lax gun laws that played a major part in the deaths of 20 innocent children and six teachers in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, something just had to wiggle its way into my line of sight and get me yapping about the topic.
This right here is what broke my vow of silence:
My initial reaction was: “well that’s just stupid,” and I stand by that reaction, rather unapologetically, for several reasons.
I. Contradictions out the Whazoo!
Now, despite the fact that I have not stepped foot inside a church for going on two years, I haven’t forgotten the things that were pounded into my skull every Sunday morning since I was old enough to talk. The Bible claims that god is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. How then, does the lack of his teachings in the school curriculum stop him from staying the hand of the man who pointed a gun at 20 small round faces, and the six teachers who tried to protect them, and pulled the trigger? Are walls and restrictions enough to stop him from interceding on the behalf of innocent children? If god has to have our permission to act, then the power dynamic between man and deity isn’t quite what the Bible suggests.
And does the Bible not say that God has a special place in his heart for children? Why didn’t his special love for these young ones not move his heart and his hand on the morning these children breathed their last? And these are not the first children, nor will they be the last, to die so horribly.
But who are you to speak for God? Where in the Bible does it say that “Thou shalt not take Christian teachings out of schools, or thou shalt feel the wrath of the Lord thy God by means of the death of thy children”? Show me the chapter and verse. If you can’t, you might want to say a little prayer of repentance for your blasphemy.
( I do notice that 90% of what I’ve just written is a list of questions. That always seems to be the case whenever I enter a theological debate. Since those questions remain unanswered, moving right along...)
II. Foolish Faithful Fallacies
When I declared this imagined correspondence stupid, the response I got was this:
“When you start taking God out of thing it gives room to a whole bunch of evil. The education of God and morality and the value of human life should be taught to kids because they grow up into [people] that do horrendous things. The best place to teach children that is in the place they are most which is school.”
First off let me say, any mention I make of morality from this point on will have nothing to do with a Biblical list of dos and don’ts. I will be using the Merriam-Webster definition: conformity to ideals of right human conduct. The widely accepted standard of this is called law. With that being said, a religious upbringing does not guarantee moral uprightness just as a lack of Christian principles does not necessitate a criminal nature. How many times in history has Christianity been used to excuse acts of injustice and criminality? Oh slavery, colonization, the bloody Crusades, or the Inquisition just to name a few. And might I just point out, there has been absolutely no correlation drawn between atheism and gun-slinging (or any manner of violence). In fact, Gary Ridgway and Pedro Alonzo Lopez, (wretched men, look them up), had Christian backgrounds. I’m not suggesting their Christian upbringing drove them to kill, but it didn’t stop them either.
The fact of the matter is, morality is taught in schools, it just doesn’t come wrapped with the title ‘Christianity.’ Morality in schools is the reason why children who fight, steal, swear and commit other deviant behaviours end up in the principal’s office. If that isn’t a blatant enough teaching of morals for you, every month, the TDSB promotes a different value or virtue (e.g. kindness, citizenship, honesty) and rewards students who exhibit those traits. And if you gather a group of six-year-olds from different religious backgrounds, including atheism, and asked them if killing and stealing were wrong, you’d probably get the same answer from them all. They must’ve learned that somewhere.
III. Christian Rights ain’t the only Rights
I’ve only seen this image posted and supported by Christians so I think it is safe to assume that it was created with the Christian god in mind. So, to suggest that Christianity should be taught in all schools would also suggest we should infringe on the rights of freedom of religion. Now, freedom to practice religion, means being free to practice your own religion, and to be free from being forced to accept the religious teaching of others.
We do not live in a Christian country. This is the first fact that needs to be accepted. Canada and the United States are secular, multicultural nations. To teach Christian beliefs in school would force the religion on the practitioners of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Atheism, Agnosticism, etc. To be fair then, we’d have to teach all of those beliefs in school, not just in passing in some World Religions course, but they would have to be integrated into the curriculum and principles of the school, just as Christians expect their religion to be. And even if we were to integrate Christianity into our schools, the question still remains: which one? There are dozens of Christian denominations.
The simple truth that this post completely ignores is that all students are free to believe whatever they want within and outside the walls of their institution of learning. So there is no law that keeps god out of schools. The law prevents it from being forced on children who do not believe in him. If you want to instill Christian principles in the children in your life, do it at home, at church, or send them to a Christian school. But stop expecting a secular world to accommodate you by inconveniencing others.
The problem with that t-shirt is the problem I have with Christianity in general: some Christians are convinced that the absence of Christianity always results in the presence of immorality, that people cannot be good unless they believe in Jesus. This is a fallacy that they really need to get over. Christianity is not the solution to every problem, in fact, it is the catalyst for quite a few. Worse still, those Christians who buy into that delusion have such a difficult time seeing outside of their belief system, that they don’t question anything they believe, often making a religion with admirable principles seem insensitive and stupid.
At the end of the day, whether that school had been a religious one or not, it would not have changed the fact that a man with a mental health problem, living in a country where guns are far too accessible, decided he would commit mass murder. Those are the true issues at hand. If those children had been singing “Amazing Grace” in perfect harmony, would that have changed the mental condition of the cold blooded killer? I’m afraid not.
May all those who died that day Rest in Peace.