Taking Advantage of Tragedy – The Christian Agenda

4 10 2006

CBS aired a brief interview with Brian Rohrbough, who lost his son in the Columbine shootings, to get his thoughts on the shooting in an Amish school in Pennsylvania.  I’m not really sure why we should care what his thoughts are, but nonetheless, CBS didn’t ask me first.  He had this to say:

ROHRBOUGH: I’m saddened and shaken by the shooting at an Amish school today and last week’s school murders [in Bailey, Colorado]. When my son Dan was murdered on the sidewalk at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, I hoped that would be the last school shooting. Since that day, I tried to answer the question, “Why did this happen?”

This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak without moral consequences. And life has no inherent value. We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong, and I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children. Suicide has become an acceptable action and has further emboldened these criminals. We’re seeing an epidemic increase in murder/suicide attacks on our children.

Sadly, our schools are not safe. In fact, we now witness that within our schools, our children have become a target of terrorists from within the United States.

That’s right folks.  Evolution is why sociopaths murder.  I don’t honestly know where to begin with a statement like that.

But one thing is for sure, I’m sick and tired of fundamentalist Christians claiming that the bible is the sole source of morality in the world.  Their sense of morality derives from avoiding punishment.  Without the threat of an eternity in hell, anything goes for Christians.  That’s what scares me.

I’ve said before that atheism does not equal immorality.  There are innumerable reasons that I, as an atheist, don’t go around killing people – and trust me, it’s not for fear of being arrested.  There are other, scientifically studied reasons for why the worst of the worst act the way they do.  It’s not because they haven’t found Jesus.  Maybe it is because they’ve spent their whole lives with people like the Christians telling them how horrible they are.  Do Christians protect from monsters or create them?

Excuse me for that digression.  The point is that CBS should give the opinion of someone who actually has something intelligent to say, or give no opinion at all.  The news should not be the medium for such hate mongering as Mr. Rohrbough’s.

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5 responses

5 10 2006
myra langerhas

“Evolution is why sociopaths murder”.

He didnt say that, but why should facts get in the way of ‘hate-mongering’ (to use your colorful words) diatribe.

“The point is that CBS should give the opinion of someone who actually has something intelligent to say, or give no opinion at all. ”

Pathetic arrogance.

5 10 2006
Mitchell

Hello and welcome to my blog. Forgive me for sometimes using exaggeration as a way to make a point. Let me explain.
You’re right. He did not, in fact, say that ‘evolution is why sociopaths murder’. What he was saying was that evolution is an example of the moral decrepitude of non-Christian based education. With his grossly inaccurate characterization of the theory of evolution (that the “strong kill the weak without moral consequences” ) he must mean as an explanation for the shootings at the school (being as though that is the subject at hand).
So – he sees this idea of evolution, where the strong kill the weak, as playing itself out in cases like the Amish school. That was the point I was trying to make. Note that ‘sociopaths’ was my addition – he does not differentiate between types of people.
As far as my second statement that CBS should give the opinion of someone who has something intelligent to say – that is, obviously, my opinion. I think that blaming these murders on godlessness denies the true complexity of the situation. It is both dangerous and irresponsible to take that position.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing your response.

6 10 2006
Kate

1. The idea that religion equals respect for life. Hmmm…where to start? Crusades? Too easy. Inquisition? Too cliché. How about abortion clinic bombings? Terrorist attacks? Northern Ireland? Well, let’s leave the obvious counterpoints for a moment and look at the broader issue of…

2. Abortions negates respect for life. First of all, despite all the protestations of the nutbags of the world, abortions are not new. Not at all. And until about 70 years ago no one, not even the Catholics, believed that life began at conception. Life began at quickening (when the baby moves within the stomach), at birth, or at baptism or bris. If life begins at conception, why don’t we baptize babies at conception? Because the baby has not yet been given a soul which would require salvation. I could also just as easily argue that affording all of the rights of a person to a mere lump of cells is what truly devalues human life. If some invisible blob can be called a life, then what real value does life have? Life doesn’t even require a tangible, breathing person to be present. But let’s just leave the whole abortion argument and go on to the state of education today…

3. Schools don’t teach morality. So then we are to understand that when schools did allow prayer and shunned evolution that people were somehow better, more peaceful, or more respectful. Lynch mobs and racism would seem to cast doubt on that little theory. Furthermore, if that theory was correct, we would expect to see a much higher suicide rate in public schools than in religious schools. We would expect to see far fewer suicides in religious countries than in non-religious countries. For a great article read http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1798944,00.html

4. So let’s get down to the real business here, does morality have to come from religion? I think that morality has to come from three places: logic, selfishness, and empathy. In an ideal world, religion would have all of these things. An ideal religion would be logical, would serve the needs of the individual, and would teach people to connect with a broader community (and thus feel empathy for members of the larger community). I would argue that of those three things, the part that comes most easily to people is selfishness. One hardly needs religion to teach us this. Next we come to easily understand empathy; whether it is only with our family or for a larger group of people, humans are wired to understand the needs of others and feel rewards for being a part of a community. Religion may help create a sense of community, but so can any other group based socialization. The hard one in all this is logic. Some people don’t want to invest the time it takes to become logical thinkers, and so religion becomes the short cut. You don’t have to make sense of the world if the rule book is already written for you. If we are going to complain about anything in the modern education system, I find the lack of critical thinking far more disturbing. So why don’t we teach kids to think, to question their world? Because it is that very teaching that right-wingers so happily call “evil.” When we tell students that the world is nicely divided into “right and wrong,” while it does make things easier, also makes critical thinking unnecessary. (Logic also require the possibility of being wrong or changing one’s opinion after new information is presented, otherwise there would be no need to think about the issue. When a religion makes itself infallible, it eliminates the need for logic all together). Are we allowed to debate morality, religion, abortion, drugs, politics, or philosophy in schools? No, and I think that is the real tragedy.

Now, I hate to criticize hopeful statements; we need a bit of hope in our world these days. But what the hell would ever make someone say, “I hoped that would be the last school shooting.” Wouldn’t that require some sort of change in the system? When we have the same crime occur dozens of times each year, and do nothing substantial to change the system, isn’t just plain stupid to expect change? If you want to get down to the bottom of school violence (if not many other forms of violence as well) there are a few obvious answers that no one wants to look at.

1. Better social services for people of all ages. These school shootings are not random. It is not that one happy kid just wakes up one morning and says, “Haven’t heard bout Jesus in a while, maybe it’s time to shoot something.” These people have serious mental health issues that are not being addressed. Provide counseling services in schools. Provide social workers who can follow up with students’ with behavioral problems.

2. Increased adult attention in schools. When the mayor of NYC wanted to stop crime, he focused on what he called “quality of life” crimes (noise, littering, graffiti) because he recognized that when we allow small crimes to go by without notice, we send a message that all crimes will go unnoticed. What about “quality of life” in schools. Focus on bullying. Focus on sexism. Focus on alienation. Focus on creating a school that provides some space for all types of students, even the weird ones, even the ugly ones, even the ones who hate pep rallies.

3. Gun laws. Thirty years ago there were fewer guns that were harder to get. There are some people of say that we need more gun laws. I hate to agree with the NRA, but I don’t think we need more laws. We need to enforce the darn ones we already have. In today’s courts, a weapon possession charge is a joke, but have an ounce of crack and your ass is serving mandatory time. Switch that one around and then see where we get.

So why don’t we do any of these things? Becuase they cost money. Becuase they are complicated and messy. And beacuse trying any one of these things would require us to admit that maybe we can’t just say a nice prayer, that we actually have to fix our own world and not wait for God to do it for us.

7 10 2006
Mitchell

The shootings in both Baily and Penn. were not commited by students, but by adults outside of the school comunity. Yet another reason I wasn’t sure why we should care what Mr. R had to say about the matter. And another flaw in Mr. R’s analysis: the Amish? They believe the bible is inerrent – so surely it wasn’t the teaching of evolution that killed those girls.

21 11 2006
Third Rake Comics

Awesome Post!

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