Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Has God Forsaken Our Public Schools?

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Just hours after the massacre of innocent children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mike Huckabee, one of the few Fox News commentators I sometimes listen to, stated, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be surprised that schools become a place of carnage?"

I wanted to ask how he explained the tragic murders of devout and innocent Amish children in the 2006 Nickles Mine School shooting. Had they removed God from their school? I don't think so. At any rate, unlike some of Huckabee’s faith-related observations, I reject the above on many grounds:

1. A compassionate God who observes each sparrow’s fall--and who is outraged by innocent people suffering for any reason--will never allow himself to be removed from any place on the planet.

2. God is certainly present wherever there are loving parents who daily send their children to school with their prayers and blessings. But God also inhabits shopping malls, parks, hospitals, work places, and even places of worship ;-), regardless of what religious activities may (or may not) be going on there.

3. My experience with the bland prayers and readings I was exposed to in public school (where virtually all students were from Protestant Christian homes) was extremely minimal compared to the influence of my family and congregational family, along with some of the good role models I had in many of my elementary teachers.

4. One doesn't have to be smarter than a fifth-grader to realize that public schools today represent a much more religiously diverse population than when I attended, and that it would be almost impossible today to devise prayers for all that would not be offensive to some, including myself.

5. While we would love to have our grandchildren be able to attend one of the good Christian schools in our area, our two local grandstudents have been blessed with exceptionally dedicated (some Mennonite) teachers in the dual Spanish/English program they are enrolled in at the Smithland Elementary School. God is obviously present in many of these teachers' lives, and we pray for them and for our grandchildren every day.

Meanwhile, our fervent prayer is that we all utilize every possible moral, spiritual, medical and/or legislative way possible to stop this kind of carnage. If we don’t, deaths in the US resulting from gun violence will begin to surpass those caused by automobile accidents.

We can't afford to let that trend continue.

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