On the day of the tragic mass shooting at the Newton, Connecticut Sandyhook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 26 victims at the school – 20 of them children between the ages of six and seven – former Governor of Arkansas and current FOX News political commentator Mike Huckabee appeared on FOX claiming it was the lack of God in our schools that was to be blamed. “We ask why there’s violence in our schools, but we’ve systemically removed God from our schools,” he said. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” (See full coverage of Huckabee’s statements here.)
Huckabee’s galactically insensitive inference that God did not find those children worthy enough or God-fearing enough to spare from this devastation because of the separation of church and state incensed a rather large portion of the U.S. population and sparked an outcry, causing even some of those on the right to squirm a bit (such as Peter Wehner, who addressed it in his Commentary article).
So the next day, Huckabee went on his own show to clarify his position. He began his segment pointing out all of the Christian events that had taken place since the time of the shooting, including President Obama quoting the Bible when he addressed the nation, along with the filled churches in Newtown during the many candlelight vigils.
He then went on to revisit his words from the day before.
“On Friday, Neil Cavuto asked me, ‘Where was God?’ And I said that for 50 years, we’ve systematically attempted to have God removed from our schools, our public activities. But then at the moment we have a calamity, we wonder where he was.” [Note: Huckabee never once in this original statement mentioned “public activities” or any event taking place outside of schools. And his direct quote, again, was, “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” But white lie forgiven.]
And then Huckabee goes on the offensive:
“Well, the predictable left lit up the airwaves and blogasphere with a vile and vicious reaction, and jumped to the conclusion that I said that if we had prayer in school the shooting wouldn’t have happened. Well I said nothing of the sort.”
Uh, actually, that was the inference, or perhaps he’d like to clarify what he meant by “systematically [removing] God from our schools.” But again, forgiven; please proceed, Governor (to steal a line from the POTUS).
“It’s far more than just taking prayer or bible reading out of the schools. It’s the fact that people sue a city so that we aren’t confronted with a manger scene or a Christmas carol. That 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.”
Ah, so it’s even more than just the lack of prayer in schools. These are the things that resulted in the deaths of those poor children.
Huckabee continued, “We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are sinful, and we call them disorders. Sometimes we even say they’re normal.”
Oh, no, he didn’t. He didn’t really just say that. Deep breath. Finding it a bit harder to forgive by the moment…
“And I responded 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’s become.”
Okay, so that’s not exactly a walk-back, it’s more like a doubling down. Huckabee went on to talk about how God came back in the form of the first responders, heroic teachers, Newtown acts of kindness, and how the President “invoked his name and quoted from his book.”
He continued, “And in a few days or weeks, we’ll probably ask God to excuse himself from view, and we’ll announce in our arrogant pride that we’re now enlightened and educated, and we’ve evolved beyond needing him. And somebody’s going to suggest that we pass a law to stop all this kind of thing. I might want to point out that we don’t have to pass a new law. There’s one that’s been awhile that works if we teach it and observe it. Thou shalt not kill.”
Not sure when the last time Huckabee reviewed school curriculums, but I happen to know for a fact that, in addition to math and science, schools place a pretty strong emphasis on values like, “thou shalt not kill” – they just don’t teach you that fear of punishment in the afterlife is why it shouldn’t be violated.
(See Huckabee’s full FOX News weekend clip here.)
But that wasn’t the end of Huckabee on the Sandyhook tragedy.
As Fox News’s talking heads commented on how it took the tragic shooting to bring prayer back to Sandyhook classrooms, Huckabee chimed in.
“I think it’s a common human reaction, when all of our human answers have failed, that’s when we maybe finally recognize that we really need God. 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 direct cause and effect. But we’ve created an atmosphere in this country when the only time we want to invoke God’s name is after the tragedy. We need to create an atmosphere in this country where morality is not something we discuss only when we have no other place to run, which I’m afraid sometimes is the way it goes, we criticize anybody who invokes God’s name except after a tragedy like this, and then it seems to be okay.”
Still not exactly a walk-back, and still not sure Huckabee quite gets it.
Perhaps it would be better if Huckabee and his ilk refrained from looking at these events as simply “evil,” implying that they exist because of the lack of God-loving demonstrations, and that there’s nothing to be done about them aside from suffusing as much Christianity as possible into public life. Maybe, just maybe, a conversation beyond this would lead to more common-sense solutions, and we could make some real progress on preventing these tragedies in the future.
(See this morning’s FOX News Huckabee appearance here.)