Most have probably seen the video, and all of the memes, on the social networks proclaiming that all of the violence in our schools and public places is directly related to the exclusion of God in western society. Some say there’s a correlation between the debasing of values and the extreme separation of Church and State (an idea that has been perverted in the last one hundred years) has caused an uptick in these horrible events.
However, western society did not invent this phenomenon.
People have been killing people since the beginning of time. Over the centuries, man has devised more efficient ways of killing each other since the day Cain struck Abel with a rock. From the crossbow to the Gatling gun, assault rifles and chemical warfare, we definitely know how to kill each other.
If we’re ignoring God in our public lives, how then, can one explain the massacres that have happened in the churches and sanctuaries around the world?
On July 25, 1993 in the city of Kenilworth, Cape Town, South Africa, four men entered the St. James Church during Saturday evening service. They were armed with grenades and assault rifles. Eleven were killed and fifty-eight wounded.
In April of 1994, Tutsi civilians, seeking refuge inside the Musha Church, were attacked by Interahamwe militiamen, and other armed civilians. More than a thousand civilians were killed between April 8 and April 13, 1994.
On September 6, 1999, in the city of Suai, in East Timor, two days following the announcement of the results of an independence referendum, several hundred people sought refuge in Ave Maria Church. The attacking Laksaur militia, a pro-Indonesian militia, with the support of the national military, killed up to 200 people.
On August 7, 2012, in central Nigeria, gunmen opened fire on an evangelical church during a Monday night service, killing at least 19 people.
If it’s true that God’s absence from the public schoolhouse and public square were the reason for the atrocities, where was God in these houses of worship? Where was God in Sandy Hook, CT on the morning of December 14, 2012? Were was God on 9/11? Where was God when my friend kidnapped and killed his wife before fleeing to Mexico, leaving his children without their mother and their grandparents without their daughter?
Despite being all-powerful, omnipotent, and everything, God is not a superhero. He’s not a reporter for the Daily Planet ducking into a phone booth (kids, ask your parents about the phone booth). He doesn’t have mutant spider blood, and while he hates evil doers, he’s not stalking the streets of Gotham City each night.
We are called to be the superheroes. God works through us to be more than we think we can be. God gives us the power to choose and we will be judged by our choices. We will be asked how we used our gifts to make the world a better place. Did we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and give drink to those who were thirsty? Did we care for those who suffered from physical and mental illnesses?
Man has always perpetrated evil on man, and that evil will always be with us. God’s proximity to our personal and public lives will not prevent evil from occurring. God is not a lucky charm, a rabbit’s foot in your pocket or your lucky socks on test day.
I think I know where God was; he was right were he was needed. Next to each person who suffered. He was there to support and love. He was there to comfort and to lead their precious souls into his kingdom. And God is with us to help us to try to make sense of the horror and to guide us out of the darkness.
I’m sure that some of my readers may not be Christian. Some may even be agnostic or atheist. And that’s okay. I’m not trying to convince you any more than I’m trying to convince my fellow followers of Christ that this is our time to make things right.
To become more responsible for each other through love.