School prayer doesn’t stop bullets

No doubt many of you have seen this chain letter in the recent days. It’s popped up at times in my Facebook feed, shared by a few of my devoutly Christian friends and acquaintances.

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COLUMBINE STUDENT’S FATHER 12 YEARS LATER!!

Guess our national leaders didn’t expect this. On Thursday, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful.

They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript:
“Since the dawn of creation there has been both good &evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

“The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.

“In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best. 

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.

Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”

You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

“Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. 

What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. 

Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts. 

“As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. 

To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! 

My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!”
- Darrell Scott

Do what the media did not – – let the nation hear this man’s speech. Please share this with your FB friends!

 

Being a Good Skeptic™, I of course Snopes‘d it to make sure this is what he actually said. Then I typed out this lengthy response, which I was about to leave as a comment on a colleague’s Facebook post until I decided it would make a great blog post instead.

I get rather upset when people post this (and I’ve been seeing it a lot this week). I’m sorry for Mr. Scott’s loss on that terrible day, and for everyone else who lost loved ones in all the mass shootings since, but there are some major problems with what this chain letter says.

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First off, there are no laws in this country preventing students from praying on their own in schools – only preventing teachers and principals from telling them to pray. It’s frustrating that so many Christians in this country can’t seem to tell the difference.

Secondly, what you’re insinuating here is that such tragedies wouldn’t happen if only more students were praying in the classroom. Is this because you believe that your God would have protected them if they’d prayed, or is it because you believe that the killers would never have pulled the trigger if they had more Jesus in their lives? If it’s the former, you’re essentially saying that your God punishes people for not praying enough by slaughtering their children. If it’s the latter, you’re ignoring the twisted individuals who kill in the name of their faith.

And finally, while you’re correct that it’s wrong to simply pin the blame on the NRA, you’re only shifting the blame to another group: secularists. That isn’t any less wrong, and it’s intellectually dishonest to try to boil the tragedy’s causes down to a single factor.

I do not have the answers as to how to prevent these tragedies either, but as an atheist I feel personally insulted when people blame them on a lack of religion. The fact that I don’t go out committing horrible acts of violence isn’t because of faith in a higher power – it’s because I have empathy for my fellow human beings. Perhaps that’s what is lacking in our culture.

A few seconds of Google research turned up a campaign launched in Rachel Scott’s memory that does exactly that: a call for compassion and an end to bullying.  The campaign, called Rachel’s Challenge, is “a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization based in Littleton, Colorado” according to its website.

Let’s honor the innocent victims of these tragedies by working to end hatred and violence, not by the divisive tactic of scapegoating the godless.

  • jodi

    excellent post.

  • http://gravatar.com/notkilroy notKilroy

    A splendid argument, my dear fellow!