Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) – There are a lot of things I am sick of hearing after massacres such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Here are six of them:
1. “It was God’s will.”
There may or may not be a God, but if there is, I sure hope he (or she or it) does not go around raising up killers, plying them with semiautomatic weapons, goading them to target practice, encouraging them to plot mass killings and cheering them on as they shoot multiple bullets into screaming 6- and 7-year-old children. Much better to say there is no God or, as Abraham Lincoln did, “The Almighty has his own purposes,” than to flatter ourselves with knowing what those purposes are.
2. “Jesus called the children home.”
I don’t want to hear that Jesus needed 20 more kids in heaven on Friday – that Madeleine Hsu (age 6) or Daniel Barden (age 7) were slain because Jesus couldn't wait to see them join his heavenly choir. Even the most fervent Christians I know want to live out their lives on Earth before going “home” to “glory.” The Hebrew Bible patriarchs rightly wanted long lives. Moses lived to be 120. Abraham was 175 when he died. Madeleine and Daniel deserved more than 6 or 7 years.
3. “After death, there is the resurrection.”
In the Jewish tradition, it is offensive to bring up the afterlife while in the presence of death. Death is tragic, and deaths such as these are unspeakably so. So now is the time for grief, not for pat answers to piercing questions. “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” says the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, and now is not a time for laughing or dancing or talk of children raised from the dead.
4. “This was God’s judgment.”
After every hurricane or earthquake, someone steps up to a mic to say that “this was God’s judgment” on New Orleans for being too gay or the United States for being too secular. I’m not sure what judgment of God would provoke the killing of 27 innocent women and children, but I certainly don’t want to entertain any theorizing on the question right now. Let’s leave God’s judgment out of this one, OK? Especially if we want to continue to believe God's judgments are "true and righteous altogether" (Psalms 19:9).
5. “This happened because America is too secular.”
Unlike those of us who are shaking their heads trying to figure out what transpired in Newtown, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an evangelical icon, apparently has it all figured out. We don’t need fewer guns in the hands of killers, he said Friday on Fox News, we need more God in our public schools.
“Should we be so surprised that schools have become such a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability,” Huckabee said in an astonishing flight of theological and sociological fancy.
Just keep plying people like the killer with Glocks and Sig Sauers. As long as we force Jewish and Buddhist Americans to say Christian prayers, then the violence will magically go away. The logic here is convoluted to the point of absent, leaving me wondering whether what passes for "leadership" in America can sink any lower.
6. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
If ever there has been a more idiotic political slogan, I have yet to hear it. The logical fallacy here is imagining that people are killed either by people or by guns. Come again? Obviously, guns do not kill people on their own. But people do not shoot bullets into people without guns. At Sandy Hook and Aurora and Columbine, people with guns killed people. This is a fact. To pretend it away with slogans is illogical and revolting.
The question now is: Are those of us who have not yet been killed by guns going to allow these massacres to continue unimpeded? Are Americans that callous? Is life here so cheap? I have read the Second Amendment, and I find no mention there of any right to possess any gun more advanced than an 18th-century musket? Do I really have the right to bear a nuclear weapon? Or a rocket-propelled grenade? Then why in God’s name would any U.S. civilian have the right (or the need) to bear a .223-caliber assault rifle made by Bushmaster?
If you believe in a God who is all powerful and all good, then covering up for the Almighty at a time like this is in my view deeply unfaithful. Today is a day to shake your fist at heaven and demand answers, and then to shake it harder when no answers are forthcoming. To do anything else is in my view to diminish the idea of God, and to cheapen faith in the process.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.
What a stupid statement. I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. Even the stupid White House referred to Christmas Trees as “Holiday Trees” . How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
If you dohnt believe in God, why the heck are you giving advice on the religion section
There will always be the unexplainable. If faith and belief in God/Supreme Being help people deal, all the better, but let us not use that as an excuse for avoiding the challenges of our societal imperfections. Life will never be perfect, so there's always room for improvement, which we ought always to pursue, both individually and collectively. Blend the two, rather than use one to trump the other.
Sounds like someone who doesn't know much about their God or the Bible. How sad.
CNN, the Communist News Network, used to be the only cable news network on TV. Now it's the lowest rated cable news network on TV and it's bovine excrement like this that is the reason why. Prothero the Bovine Excrement shoveler.
That's why keep reading CNN, right? Or are you too stupid to use a web browser and go to foxnation.com
Good one Jose... I don't know how he managed to spell CNN...
As a Roman Catholic priest once said to me, "God wills eternal life, not death." God does not will the death of babies, children, or anyone. If you believe in God and you believe in the soul, the Christian concept is that God accepts the soul into eternal peace after the death of the body. The soul then experiences "eternal jubilation," in the words of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). Believe what you like, but please do not make the mistake of thinking that God wills anyone's death or that there is a certain moment written in some heavenly "Book" stating when each person is going to die. That is fatalism, and it is against most religions, not to mention logic and reason.
People kill people, guns don't kill people...
Then why ban cigarette smoking in bars and restaurants and public places?
After all cigarettes don't kill people, just the people smoking them (people kill people argument), right?
The illogic in that comment is so twisted that it ends up making no sense whatsoever. We do not ban smoking in restaurants because people kill themselves by smoking cancer sticks. We ban cigarettes in restaurants because the second-hand smoke is bad for everyone else in the restaurant. It's a public health issue! It's about keeping people healthy, preventing premature deaths, and saving the taxpayers' dollars that would otherwise go to caring for people who have been made ill by second-hand smoke, through no fault of their own, simply by breathing air polluted by smokers. Did you know that third-hand smoke can be deadly as well? That is the smoke absorbed by the smoker's clothing, skin, and hair, which is then taken into the home or office. Getting in an elevator with someone who has been smoking outside is sickening because of the stink of their breath being exhaled in closed quarters. Disgusting and deadly!
Remember, leftists don't want to hear quotes from any book except The Communist Manifesto, they never get sick of that, in fact, they can quote it verse for verse.
So all liberals/leftists are communists? You're kind of slow. I sure hope you don't own any semi-automatic weapons.
Please don't feed the troll.
leftists are not communists you idiot. There just happens to be some people in the world who want everyone to have the same chance in life. Please dont breed
That is such a ridiculous statement that is would be hysterically funny, if it weren't so sick and twisted.
You know I never read it ( sounds like you did) however I keep on being accused for having read it when I speak to people about politics. I only talk about politics when I feel like I can say what I feel. Funny thing is I see myself as an ultra capitalist.
Am for teaching the bible in school and all the other religious texts. Let's called it MYTHOLOGY, makes sense?
i take issue with 2 of your statements.
1) the resurection : in scripture when lazarus died and martha asked jesus why he was not there
to help his friend. he talked of being the way the truth and the resurection. this is jesus christ himself talking
in the presence of martha about death and her brother. sorry but that is what the bible says and what we all
look forward to and the hope that we have. the law and works don't save you niether does pretending to be nice
about something. there is no sin in quoting scripture if it is meant to encourage faith.
2) jesus called the little children home : while it could be worded better that " they are now with jesus " , which
is most probably true ! , people trying to cope with something like this are simply expressing their faith in god.
we aren't here for ever and many old testament prophets of note prayed for death because life was so bitter
here for them.
christ on the cross is the final destination for all of us and whether we except his
grace and mercy like the thief on the cross is up to us.
Wow. What a load of crap!
God is either NOT all-knowing and all-powerful or he is evil. Logic and reason support this..
at ATHY , i could say something dirogatory like " so are you " , but instead i'll say this , if you don't believe
in JESUS CHRIST , you could just plainly say so. what happens to us after we die will tell who's right and
wrong. so what you say here and now is important. if you wan't to put it on record that you reject
christ and his sacrifice on the cross , go ahead. good luck in the after life whether you like it there or not.
@gblog You do know the :stories" in the bible are just that stories right? Many if not all of them are identical to stories from religions dating hundreds or even thousands of years before Christianity not to mention exactly NONE of them were written by anyone who was actually there or even written in the language christ spoke. Then when a roman christian emperor decided he didnt like people having different beliefs and calling themselves christians he got a group of religious leaders together to write a bible they wanted and voila we got the old testament. Then the same thing happened with king james and voila the new testament. Before you rant on about the truth or god etc fact check next time
Yep. Good article. Only the most stupid (not ignorant), disgusting, accursed losers would try to make those claims.
He Prothero, you know what WE"RE really sick of hearing? We're sick of hearing left wing anti-religious clowns like you trying to take advantage of a heinous crime by a lunatic to push your secular humanist, anti-gun agenda ! Yep, that's what we're good and sick of Prothero. That's why most people watch Fox News cause CNN and MSNBC make them sick.
Truth hurts, huh mocus?
people watch Fox? Really?
mocus1 is angry because his god ignores him.
"Gal 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:".............Socialists are like kweers, they'll fake anything.
Aren't Christians suppose to be more calm than this? Be quiet, and talk more civilized.
I totally agree with Mr. Prothero's article, "Six Things I Don't Want to Hear ... . I have an additional comment to add to his list: "They are in a better place." I've always thought that is an absurd statement.
Is it important to agree? A little feel good sensual consensus?
Why is the CNN "religion" blog always filled with anti-religious secular BS like this bovine waste written by Prothero? An obvious Christian hater (never Muslim, he knows better than that) who describes believers as unenlightened troglodytes. Good thing Prothero gets paid writing leftist screeds against the religious for a Communist News Network, he's starve to death if he had a real job.
I have never noticed the author doing the things you say. Why are you lying?
A human conscience is developing as we speak and the internet is it's cradle. Logic Reason and Fact win in this platform and this argument of ideas. The old ways are being seen in a larger lens. Our perceptive is far much larger then that book could have ever imagined.
The article is not in the least anti-Christian or anti-religious. It is written from an enlightened perspective by someone who has studied theology. If some of the posters don't understand their own religion, that is their problem, not the author's.
Urgh, Stephen Prothero, you almost got there! "Today is a day to shake your fist at heaven and demand answers, and then to shake it harder when no answers are forthcoming." Why did you stop thinking here? What should be the conclusion of your thought process? First you come up with a premise that there is an almighty and all-good god. Then when he allowed for innocents to suffer and be killed, you shook your fist and demanded answers from your god. Then no answers (or any other sign of existence, ever) came from god. Think, Stephen, think! What is the most logical conclusion? Instead of jumping though millions of mental hoops trying to justify an impossible logical stance, get it off your chest and just admit the obvious – there is no god.
"I have read the Second Amendment, and I find no mention there of any right to possess any gun more advanced than an 18th-century musket..." – Stephen Prothero
Of all the arguments against gun ownership, this is one of the most ridiculous. You will find no mention of computers in the First Amendment, either.
Everyone seems to have their own person definition for this amendment. Most of them are dead wrong.
Talk all you want sinners, however, the murdered children and yes, adults, are, at this moment, in The Kingdom of Heaven... And the wrath of GOD has already consumed the murderer !!! And to the NON-BELIEVERS I say, your words mean NOTHING to those that are CHRIST LOVING BELIEVERS !!! And may GOD forgive your sinful souls for THE TRASH YOU ARE SPOUTING AGAINST THE ONE TRUE GOD AND JESUS !!!!!!!
Cogent and concise. A well stated argument. I say unto ye.
No need for yelling. That surely won't win anyone over to Christ. Remember that Jesus was a kind, gentle soul. Never threatening or demanding in such a way as your above post. Please, all Christians out there, speak with love, not hate.
Joel, you need to calm down and take your meds. And work on your punctuation.
I am a good person. When I noticed that a town beneath a dam was full of sinners, I blew up the dam and drowned them all, including their children and even their unborn children. I am a good, just and loving person.
"Whatever I say is absolutely 100% fact and truth and before you even begin to muster up anything that even remotely disagrees with my views I am telling you that you are wrong so don't even try to argue... I don't care if the evidence is in your favor, YOU ARE WRONG AND I AM RIGHT... Also you are sinners and will be punished eternally in a giant pit of fire, by a supposedly benevolent god, for a mere 70-100 years of sin... That is all." – Joel-B
Ok, that quote was paraphrased but I just wanted to make it clear how you look to the reasoning people of this world. Thank you for allowing people to see Christians in their true light.
Seriously research the histroy and truth of your precious religion its stories its holiday and bible. The tell me whos full of it.
Note that Prothero assigns all the blame to right wing causes, while dismissing the fact that Lanza spent hours playing violent video games. Of course, leftists like Prothero won't blame or ban violent video games, because those are created and marketed by left wingers like Prothero and the clowns at CNN. The same huge entertainment conglomerates that trowel out this endless septic tank of violent imagery to our kids are the same ones who pay Prothero and CNN leftists to mock and ridicule religion and it's believers. Hey Prothero, why don't you move to Zimbabwe if you don't like the US, I hear things are much better over there. We're sick of you leftist goons mocking Christianity. Just wondering Prothero, how come you don't mock and ridicule Muslims? We know why Prothero, we know why.
He and I like America fine. We'd just like it better if more un-American people like you left.
Hey didn't your boy Rush Limp say after the election that the schools are churning out nothing but liberals? What that A$$ did at the school, was that not like a favor to you then? Take a couple of future liberals out before they mature? You know that the kid was a doomsday survivalist, like most nuts. All waiting for the world to end, are they that bored? He played the games as training I guess. I play games too and I haven't hurt someone i years.
As a former Atheist I have a great deal of empathy for your issues, "inspiration for......". Your bitterness belies the reason behind you unbelief. Let others choose to believe or not and go in peace and silence.
David, if the other side would do the same, I think we'd have a deal. Let me know when they stop trying to get their religion into our schools and our government. I don't expect to see that day in my lifetime.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:18
Word salad.. just a lot of word salad.
That's it – quote some idiotic Biblical passage and make it all better. Do you think your God wants you to live your life and not try to stop this kind of carnage? If so, screw your God. Or – lest you think I'm an atheist (and I am) let me refer you to your own Gospel – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work". Think about it.
C'mon, Lars, quote something you believe or better yet made up.
Roflmao. Hey lol, look up the biblical statement, it's not at all "made up". Stupid one...
Ummm, HAHA, where did I say the Timothy quote was made up? Maybe in the morning you'll see. heh heh Have a giggly sleep.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.