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.
My deepest sympathies to the families involved in Newtown
May CNN read this post: As this is for all people to know why as they worship the "Jesus" taught by the religions, the more terrible events like calamities and violence occur:
What did God say before:
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NIV)
In the Garden, God gave Adam and Eve the “free will” to choose how they may live their lives better. Maestro Evangelista of http://www.thename.ph says, this means that God do not control the way one wants to live one’s life. Man can enjoy a good and happy life if he will follow God’s commandments and will suffer pain and hardships if he will disobey God and worship other gods which he does not know.
Today, countries are experiencing different forms of misfortunes; war, famine, disaster, pestilence, and worsening economic crises. Since we can no longer find a single country that is not suffering from any of these conditions, Maestro Evangelista tells us that it is a sign that the world is truly cursed by God because we worshiped a god-taught by religions known as "Jesus"
Who is Jesus really?- religions as based on the teachings of the apostles in the New Testament claim that God sent Jesus who they claim as His Son to die for our sins. However there is an inconsistency in this teaching of the apostles. God is a powerful God, if God wanted to forgive mankind for their sins, why would He allow His "Son "as they (apostles) say to die for the sins of man when God can easily make a decree saying " I forgive you" to mankind? It appears that this teaching of the apostles is an insult or a blasphemy against God.
Is Jesus really God's son , Did God really sent Jesus to die for our sins? Its time we consult the word of God Himself in the Bible in the prophecy in the Old testament on why did He sent Jesus?
May all be informed:
Based from the Bible revelations of Teacher Erano Evangelista in the link:
There is a Word of God about Jesus-the descendant/offspring of King David that we should know:
2 Samuel 7:12-14
New International Version (NIV)
12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. WHEN HE DOES WRONG, I WILL PUNISH HIM WITH A ROD WIELDED BY MEN, WITH FLOGGINGS INFLICTED BY HUMAN HANDS
In the said verses: 2 Samuel 7:12-14 – we can read that God speaks of a coming offspring of David and not a literal "son of God" as what the religions preach
Is it really true that Jesus was a descendant of David?
…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.
The virgin's name was Mary.
Luke 1:27 (NIV)
Jesus' true father is Joseph who belongs to the house of David. So if we are to believe the teaching of the religions that Jesus is the “son of God,” then it should be Mary who should belong to the house of David.
You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
Luke 1:31 (NIV)
And who was Jesus' father?
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
Luke 1:32 (NIV)
"will be called" – As you have read it, Jesus was only a son or a descendant of David not a real"son of God;" he was just a man.
Is this true –That Jesus is a son of David? In Matthew 1:1
A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham-Matt 1:1
Now we can see that the prophecy in 2 Sam7:12-14 about a coming descendant of David and not a son of God was now fulfilled
Considering the prophecy in II Samuel 7:12-14 that if the descendant of David commits a wrong or an iniquity he will be punished with the rod of men, Maestro Evangelista says Jesus was also punished by men, what is the proof?
All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Matthew 27:25-26 (NIV)
However Jesus was flogged by men which when we read again what God stated in the prophecy in 2 Sam 7:14:
14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. WHEN HE DOES WRONG, I WILL PUNISH HIM WITH A ROD WIELDED BY MEN, WITH FLOGGINGS INFLICTED BY HUMAN HANDS
We can discover for ourselves that based on what God said in the prophecy that the real reason why He allowed Jesus -the descendant of king David to be beaten by men was not for our sins but for his (Jesus) own wrongdoing.
It appears now that the Apostles-the writers of the New testament who claimed that Jesus was sent by God to be beaten for our sins were hiding from us what really happened to Jesus.
Worse than that-The apostles made us worship Jesus -who in reality was punished by God for his own wrongdoing! How will God hear our plea of salvation if we worship the one whom He has punished! We are indeed cursed as written in Deut.11:28 because we worshiped a false god made by the apostles?
It is a shame that we even question God for the real reason why we are suffering today is because we allowed ourselves to be deceived by the teachings of the apostles!
The pastors would say -it was King Solomon who was prophesied in 2 Samuel 7:12-14 but he wasn't flogged by men when he committed sin against God.
It was Jesus -the offspring of David who was flogged and beaten by the rod of men.
Again, Read this link: http://www.thename.ph/thename/revelations/greatestdeception-en.htm
What is the authority of the teacher in http://www.thename.ph -Maestro Erano Evangelista to reveal this truth about Jesus:
Read Jesus' own words in the Bible:
If you think that Jesus was the one prophesied in Isaiah 53 -go to this link:
Its time we awaken ourselves. Thank you
To those who would ask: How would God forgive us from our sin of worshiping other gods including "Jesus" that was taught by the religions? Let us read:
Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
Psalm 25:8 (NIV)
God will show or instruct us how we can seek forgiveness for our sins from Him.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
Psalm 25:9-10 (NIV)
If we will truly obey God and keep His commandments, what will happen to our sins?
For the sake of your name, O LORD,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Psalm 25:11 (NIV)
When we know and acknowledge the true Name of God, then and only then will our sins be forgiven and the Curse upon the earth will be lifted.
Know the true Name of God in the Bible as revealed by Teacher Erano Evangelista in this link:
As Teacher Erano Evangelista said in http://www.thename.ph : "Disastrous events will continue to happen all over the world, for the people to realize that the world is cursed. These will only stop when they accept and acknowledge the true Name of God"
fvck off, troll spam boy
Same to you, christians=morons
@ moham a dar
As I said, I remember a few years back when 19 muslims like you killed 2800 americans in 1.5. hours without a single shot being fired! Not bad. I wonder what the outcome would have been if the pilots had a gun? Hmm?
The pilots were taken by surprise. Rambo exists only in fiction.
I hope someone in your family is monitoring your behavior.
Let me guess TTTPS – divorced? internet addict? IT professional? or unemployed???
and in that case of 9/11 . . if the pilots had a gun it would have save more than "just one life" Would you have been in favor of that? Are you in favor of arming pilots?
Nope. Happily married, employed for over 35 years and rather successful, not involve in IT by any stretch. Addicted to the internet? Maybe. Mostly addicted to ridiculing idiots like you. It's a pastime.
Pot always calling the kettle black.
Oh! So you're kind of old? Eeww.
How's your pastime working out for you. I don't feel any less for having sparred with you tonight.
You might not 'feel any less', Pennsyltucky Boob, but that's okay. You were already at the bottom anyhow.
THAT'S IT!!! I'm going to bed. You've insulted me one too many times. Even hate filled gun owners like me can have sensitive feelings, ya know.
I ought to report you to CNN and the Feds.
"19 muslims like you " what do you know about me goon? nothing, nada, so you suggest, pilots should carry guns, school teachers carrying guns, business owners should carry guns, I can see a bumper sticker on your car "Don't Honk, I Carry A Gun", Scranton poop
are you in favor of arming pilots?
I'm neither in favor nor opposed to it. It is not necessary. We have locking c0ckpit doors now, which in retrospect, are an obvious innovation that should have been adopted in the 1970s.
Plus we have air marshalls as a deterrent.
Don't try to lure me back mr arab goon. I'm crying myself to the bathroom to brush my tooth, then I'm going to put my singlet pi's on and read the next chapter of mein kampf before i doze off.
nighty night – salaam alaikum
don't forget to setup all booby traps, good nite goon, and FYI – I am not muslim.
I blame believers, idiots, freaks, rich people, gun owners, god, mary, st joseph, mother teresa, billy graham, richard nixon, george w, bush, george h.w. bush, george a&w bush, chip-fil-a, the military, jesus, the pope, fox news, rush limbaugh, sarah palin, trig palin, the NRA, our system of government, states rights, the bill of rights, millionaires and billionaires, big oil, big pharma, big, tobacco, big, gun, the holy spirit, and st francis of assisi on letting all those poor children suffer and die.
I blame god, jesus, christians, believers, morons, christians, god – if he existed, jesus, the virgin mary, religious people, idiots – same as all of the above, agnostics, the boys scouts, gun owners, the 1%, freaks, GOP'ers, and god and jesus, and all his followers on killing those poor innocent, white children
Babble after babble after babble..
Bob, why not blame the government for not knowing the whereabouts of antisocial personalities in our country. What am I thinkingt? That's right, do the politically correct bs thinking, when they get caught, we would all believe everyone should get a second chance and let them out of prison early to go and prey on another innocent law abiding citizen. NO NO NO, don't execute murderers in our country, spend your tax dollars allowing them to spend life in prison. Let the rapists go, they have more rights than you. And, we wonder why we are at a fiscal cliff. The criminals are watching the hen house.
I blame American Indians for killing those poor, poor children
I blame the 2nd Amendment for killing those children. ANd the 1st Amendment. Well, the whole COnsti tuion
This one I agree with. The 2nd amendment is the reason those children died.
It's time to do something about it, don't you think?
What will you do Bob?
I blame FOX news for killing those poor children. DONT YOU CARE ABOUT CHILDREN???
I blame the gun under my pillow – personally – for killing those poor innocent children.
I blame Lanza for Sarah Palin!
I blame blacks and jews and catholics on those murders.
I blame people who don't care about the children on Lanza and the murders.
I blame republicans for those murders
I blame the NRA for killing those children. Them and homeschoolers,
Rush Limbaugh and Bush Jr need some blame too.
I blame religion on guns and Lanza
I blame guns for Lanza – no I mean I blame Lanza for guns. No, I mean I blame GUNS for killing those poor children. (You know those things have a mind and will of their own!)
I blame George Bush for Lanza
I blame Sarah Palin for Lanza!
you're right about that, goon
Wow, this is an impressively idiotic and hackneyed post. Ironic that you seem incredulous that people have it all figured out, but you apparently do, enough to contemptibly dismiss their thoughts and worries on it. If you are going to address the rather large issues of secularization, public religion, morality, and individual rights in six paragraphs then at least try to use your brain a little instead of just pretending anyone differing from you is either an idiot or a villain.
As a wise man said on the radio last night, "It's not called the 'Bill of Needs', it's called the 'Bill of RIghts.'" We don't legislate according to needs, but rights. Get it?
I believe it is a communist slogan that says "To each according to his NEEDS, from each according to his ABILITY."
So you'd allow anyone to purchase any weapon at all, Small-town Boob? No background checks, no waiting period. Bazookas, rocket-propelled grenades, anything goes, right?
You're a poe.
"Assault rifles" is nothing more than the latest buzz word, the latest scapegoat, the latest JEW of our culture. You have no idea what you are talking about when you talk about guns.
I never mentioned assult weapons. Let's just say semi-automatic rifles. Ban them.
GOP – what percentage of the almost 900 homicides this year in Chicago were committed by NRA members, or lawfully owned guns?
I never mentioned them either. Figures some dumb a ss who grew up in Pennsylt ucky and never left wouldn't be able to read.
How many times have 20 six- and seven-year-olds have been gunned down by guns that no one needs to own?
it's not about needs. ITs about rights. And in every instance of murder – the gun was used illegally. THat's what makes it murder vs. self-defense, or accident.
I'm sorry, "Scranton Bob", but you have reached the maximum allowable number of unfounded posts for the month of December. Knowing how upset you are that your Kielbasa has already shrunk for the winter, I think it is in everyone's interest that you wait until spring before attempting to post again here on the Belief Blog. Thank you in advance, "Scranton Bob".
How many of those '900 homicides this year in Chicago' were performed with illegally sold/purchased firearms?
The biggest need is to have a comprehensive, national background check for ALL sales of firearms, commercial and private with severe penalties for sellers of firearms who do not follow the process where those firearms are subsequenly used in a homicide.
Bob, few years back in FL, a J'apanese student knocked on someone's door to ask direction, was gun downed by a wacko gun owner like you, said he was protecting his property, cool eeh, goon!
Yeah – well a few years back a few arabs like you killed 2800 americans. goon!
"Bob", please observe the limit for number of unfounded posts that you breached an hour ago. I know your boyfriend "makes a mean Kielbasa" as you said, but it would be nice to hear from other posters who have more truthful assertions.
Yeah, Tom, just allow the criminals in our country to have illegal guns and make sure law abiding citizens can't defend themselves. Typical Tom and other nonbelievers myopically look at a problem without EVER thinking everything through to a rational outcome. And, NO, I don't believe these insane weapons belong on the streets, but, then again, I don't believe criminals should have freedom to do as they please.
Then I imagine you have a better solution. Post it.
@What a Joke,
sure, because women carry AR15's in their purse for self-defence every day right?
I am perfectly willing to stipulate that there are opportunities for people to show that they are armed with a handgun as a meaningul deterrent to personal, violent crime.
How many times are AR15s used for self-defence?
Ban semi-automatic rifles and establish a uniform background check for *all* sales of firearms, both commercial and private.
The government has always known the criminal elements in our society, but, when they get them in court the law abiding citizen has to pay for the criminal mentalities. Example. Divorces. How many times does a partner of an anti-social personality have to pay, while the partner they're complaining about get off free? The courts stick their heads in the sand because they want the responsible partner to pay and who cares about justice, as long as the judges make their salaries. Same with the work environment. An employee points their finger at the antisocial personality using the work environment for what it's worth. The whistle blower is made the criminal in this country, looses everything and the predator gets to walk. I can go on with more examples, but, why bother. Our country has it backwards and the bad guys get a free ride.
All I see in your posts is a lot of whining and no solutions. Guess you have none.
I actually agree with Scranton Bob on this. Civil rights are separate from a person's individual condition. To discriminate and violate the rights of others based on faulty logic is not a path that is likely to lead to a rational or effective conclusion, plus it is a violation of someone's rights.
Just because no one needs to vote in between elections does not mean that their voting rights should be taken away just because they don't "need" their voting rights every other day of the year.
Subjective perceptions of someone else's "need" to own or be banned from owning "arms" they have the legal right to own ... have no legal basis for denying that right of potential "arms" ownership to that person. Subjective opinion has no legal weight in view of someone's Constltutional rights.
Just put yourself in the shoes of the gun nuts. They have an actual legal, Constltutional right to own and brandish / bear "arms" which means any weapon or object with weapon potential. It's a legal right and cannot legally be infringed according to the Constltution...except by due process of law that is done in open court so that the process is transparent and can be reviewed with proper oversight by all citizens.
The ACLU has fought for 2nd Amendment rights when appropriate. Civil rights is all you people have between you and monstrous tyranny. Don't destroy your civil rights out of emotional bias, but consider the actual facts, including legal ones, before jumping off into crazy-land.
We live in a fascist police state where our civil rights are continuously being violated. Access to a particular type of gun is not a prerequisite to violence no matter how much you want to stop tragedy from happening. Get a grip.
None. Because no one wants to mess with the guy with the AR15.
"Why do you NEED a gun?" Why do you NEED so many bullets?
It's not a question of need. It's a question of rights. I don't need the car I drive, or all the clothes I have, or all the water i use, or all the electricity I use, or all the food I eat, or all the free time I have. But I have a right to them.
Nonsense. You don't have a "right" to any of those things. Why don't you answer the question?
Can you really look at that gap-toothed grin on that little kid who was buried today, you know, the one who wanted to be a firefighter, and tell everyone that your "right" to own an assault-type weapon is more important than protecting even that one little life?
Of course you have that right.
It is time to question the rights of gun ownership.
In the memories of the slain children and children who will otherwise be slain by firearms in the future – what changes to gun ownership will you support?
Come on. Human rights haven't been in vogue for half a century in America. It's not like anyone is going to start caring about them now.
YES. Tom and the others just want to ensure that criminals are the only ones to have guns at their disposal. I'm sick of this gun issue. When are we going to track the sociopaths and psychopaths in this country. Oh, the government doesn't know how to do this? That's right, the system blames the victims and let the predators go. Sorry, I'm posting on the wrong blog tonight. As for the fiscal cliff. When are government employees going to cut back their huge salaries and go back to 30-35 hours per week?
Have you any evidence that this killer had ever been treated for mental illness?
Tom, mental illness is one issue that this country needs to step up to the plate and open up the state hospitals again. Oh, that's right, politicians that have the financial means can support a mentally ill family member, but, who cares about Joe and Jane average citizen that are collapsing for not having any means of support.
As far as this shooter, he went from sociopath to the label of psychopath. Why do you think he killed himself? Because he held all the cards.
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.