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Warren J. Blumenfeld Headshot

Tragic Shootings Blamed on Denying Prayer in Schools and Public Square

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Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, on Fox News, placed blame for the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., by stating: "We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"

This is Huckabee's reiteration of a theme he peddled last August after the mass murder at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., when he attributed the bloodbath to a society that removed God and religion from the public realm: "[S]ince we've ordered God out of our schools, and communities ... we really shouldn't act so surprised ... when all hell breaks loose."

Bryan Fischer, host of a radio show sponsored by the American Family Association, mirrored Huckabee's assertions on Friday after news of the shooting when he argued that God did not protect Sandy Hook children and staff because we have cast out prayer from our public schools since the 1960s.

And Rev. Sam Morris at Old Paths Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Tenn., delivered a sermon on Sunday, two days following the shooting, blaming the public schools themselves, which he said teach children about evolution, sex and "how to be a homo."

Huckabee, Fischer and Morris, by citing a supposed removal of God and prayer from the schools and the public square, are engaging in a transparent and cynical attempt to divert the national conversation away from investigating common sense explanations of and solutions to gun violence that has reached pandemic proportions, solutions that might possibly place some restrictions on the availability, types of weapons sold and requirements for gun ownership.

Huckabee, Fischer and Morris, ask the parents and community members of the victims of a mass shooting on Oct. 2, 2006 of six faithful and beautiful girls in their Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Did Charles Carl Roberts IV shoot at close range Naomi Rose Ebersol, age 7, Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, age 13, Anna Mae Stoltzfus, age 12, Lena Zook Miller, age 8, and Mary Liz Miller, age 7 because God and prayer were denied them in their school and community?

And did the shooters at the spate of churches go on a rampage because God and prayer were repudiated?

Gethsemane Church of God in Christ, Richmond, Calif., two injured; First Baptist Church, Maryville, Ill., pastor Fred Winters killed; Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, Knoxville, Tenn., two killed and seven injured; a missionary school in suburban Denver and a church in Colorado Springs, total five killed, five wounded; in addition, churches in Moscow, Idaho; Neosho, Mo.; Baton Rouge, La.; Detroit, Mich.; College Park, Ga.; Brookfield, Wis.; Garden Grove, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Conception, Mo.; Lynbrook, N.Y.; Hopkinsville, Ky.; Fort Worth, Texas; Salt City, Utah; and the list goes on.

Huckabee, Fischer, and Morris, how would you explain the mass killings of six people and four wounded at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.? Did Wade Michael Page shoot people for denying God and prayer?

And what about the gunman who shot and wounded two men who were parking their cars in the garage at Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox synagogue in North Hollywood, Calif., before attending morning services? What was the real motive for this act, and the shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle when a gunman shot six women, killing one? And what was the cause of the shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, Calif., in 1999? Had the targets of these craven shooters denied God and refrained from prayer?

Do people shoot at Muslim mosques around the country because the faithful deny God and fail to pray at least five times daily?

Lest we forget Addie Mae Collins, age 14, Cynthia Wesley, age 14, Carole Robertson, age 14, and Denise McNair, age 11, the innocent, hopefuland beautiful young girls killed in the bombing on Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963 at the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African American church in Birmingham, Ala. This incident sparked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.

Well, I hope that the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School likewise stimulates a genuine dialogue, a turning point, one that will eventually save our country from the tragedy and heartbreak of gun violence, a turning point that truly honors the memory of all those young and old alike taken from us too soon, those whose joy, talents, creativity and humanity were stolen from them and from us all.

Mike Huckabee, Bryan Fischer and Sam Morris, you certainly have the right and the freedom to advocate your positions in a manner of your choice. This time, though, reasonable people, people who are disgusted with the senseless, painful and nation-shattering violence have had enough. We are interested in finding the real causes and coming to genuine solutions.