Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was recently quoted as saying that he is not surprised by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings because we have “systematically removed God” from public schools. As a result, a firestorm of criticisms erupted, in which he sought to clarify his remarks.
Kel Kelly, Huffington Post columnist, rebutted Huckabee’s statement that the shootings in Newtown Connecticut didn’t happen because we don’t allow God in schools. God lives in hearts, not in schools.
“The God I love doesn’t purposely use violence in spiteful retaliation of his/her perceived shunning. The God I love is spending the day with the rest of America mourning the loss of live, not having a “that will teach you!” moment."
“God had nothing to do with the Sandy Hook massacre. The murders were a direct result of the lack of gun control laws in this country,” wrote Kelly. Although the violent outbursts are going to go away once gun control legislation is enacted, there will be less loss of lives and overall damage if the attacker wielded only a knife instead of an assault weapon.
If the God squad really wants to reduce gun-related violence, they should advocate for gun control laws, and in doing so, we will be doing God’s work in a much more positive and meaningful way, said Kelly.
However, Huckabee explained his remarks on Fox News on Monday that he was not saying that the shooting would not have happened if state-sponsored prayer were allowed in public schools, or an religious presence were increased at Sandy Hook, but was noting the irony of asking “where is God?” after a tragedy, but not talking about God at other time.
“I’m not suggesting by any stretch that if we had prayer in schools regularly as we once did that this wouldn’t have happened, because you can't have that kind of cause and effect,” said Huckabee. "But we’ve created an atmosphere in this country where the only time you want to invoke God’s name is after the tragedy.”
"We ask why there's violence in our school but we've systematically removed God from our 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 on Fox News Saturday.
"It's far more than just taking prayer or Bible reading out of the schools. It's that fact that people sue a city so we're not confronted with a manger scene or a Christmas carol, and lawsuits are filed to remove a cross that's a memorial to fallen soldiers. Churches and Christian-owned businesses are told to surrender their values under the edict of government orders to provide tax funded abortion pills. We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are 'sinful' and we call them 'disorders.' Sometimes we even say they are normal. And, to get to where we have to abandon bedrock moral truths, then we are asked, well 'where was God?' And I respond that, as I see it, we've escorted Him right out of our culture and we've marched Him off the public square and then we express our surprise that a culture without Him actually reflects what it has become," Huckabee said.
In a column for the conservative Commentary magazine, Peter Wehner, who used to work in the George W. Bush White House and describes himself as "somewhat (though not entirely) sympathetic to the conservative social agenda," characterized Huckabee's remarks as witless, theologically confused, flippant and offensive.
"The psychologist Abraham Maslow once said that if you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. For Mike Huckabee, his hammer is removing God from school – and he tends to see every massacre as a nail," Wehner argued.
Huckabee was previously governor of Arkansas and ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. Before entering politics, he was a Southern Baptist preacher.