Tell me again about how that Old Time Religion prevented school shootings

The wonderful thing about technology is that we have access to history without having to visit multiple libraries. I saw this floating by on facebook and yes, it irked me:

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For instance, to combat what Mike Huckabee and Bryan Fischer and everyone who is peddling this lie, we need look no further than Wikipedia (sorry, Jim, but I had too – but I did source it).

Some perspective here. In 1963, the Supreme Court rules against state-sponsored/mandated (such as teacher’s leading) prayers saying they were no longer allowed due to the separation of Church and State. Like most SCOTUS decisions, this came only after decades of State activism and lower court rulings. For instance, in 1890, the highest court in Wisconsin ruled in favor of Catholics who had brought a suit of discrimination. Catholic students were being forced to read the King James Version, a bible lacking official recognition from Rome and thus not a real bible. In 1963, prayer wasn’t taken out — any more than bible reading was removed in Wisconsin in 1890’s. It was amended to where it was democratic led prayer, by the students. In other words, the Government (represented by the school personnel), could no longer force you to say a prayer in whatever style, to whatever entity the school district deemed appropriate.1  So, one would expect that after 1963 to see a rise in gun violence in the United States, or at least that is the lie Christian fundamentalists tell us.

Let me add another bit of perpective. On the same day as the tragedy in Connecticut, a man in China entered an elementary school and stabbed 22 children. All of them lived. What we have to consider in this matter is the tool of the action. We should expect that a semi-automatic assault weapon with high capacity magazines mirroring the military M-16 would do more damage than a knife, a revolver, or flintlock. To sum, we have established that after decades of lower court rulings, in 1963 the Supreme Court banned government-sponsored/mandated school prayer and that technology has increased to the point where we now have the ability to do far reaching damage with a gun.

In the 19th century, there were reports of school shootings, even during the time of the Second Great Awakening. Of course, this was in the era of guns that had to be reloaded time and time again, or if you have a shotgun, a poor packing of pellets. In the first three decades of the 20th century, schools were rocked with explosions, arson, and of course, guns. One in particular is heart wrenching. This violence continued throughout the 1940’s and 50’s, even when we had the words of “under God” inserted into our pledge and made our national motto and still continues, although there are reports that school violence as turned a corner.2 But, we have had 50 years of public schools without government mandated prayers and we have had violence. However, we know two things. First, the centuries before 1963 was filled with violence, sometimes worse than what we see now. Second, reports show that school violence is abating.

So, tell me again why we need such a puny god who is so mad at children because a government refused to enforce mandated prayers in accordance with its laws in the same schools? Wouldn’t this god teach us more about vengeance? Wrath? Fear? Wouldn’t this god require more blood?

  1. Imagine a school district in Deerborn, Mi requiring Christians students to repay to Allah
  2. Eisenhower signed the “In God We Trust” bill in 1956.

Post By Joel L. Watts (10,153 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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