By Rheta Grimsley Johnson
FISHTRAP HOLLOW – In the quiet of this early morning, in a season dedicated to peace and good will to all men, it is hard to believe the sadness and ugliness that assaults America.
Compounding the senseless deaths of innocent children and their teachers, men who pretend to speak for God are assigning blame. While calling themselves Christians, these multimillionaire, multimedia preachers are stoking the fires of ignorance, hate and bigotry. As usual.
James Dobson of Focus on the Family blames abortion and gay marriage for the deadly Sandy Hook murders. Assault rifles don’t kill people; gay people kill people. Or so he says. He should know. God talks to him directly, assuring a profit.
Bryan Fischer of the amazingly influential American Family Association says God couldn’t possibly help the 20 children slaughtered because prayer has been banned from the schools. God, he evidently believes, was making a point, using helpless 6- and 7-year-old children to do so.
Lesser charlatans all across the country are following the lead of more successful peers with rousing “Amens!” from their respective pulpits. If you don’t believe me, search the Internet for “Sandy Hook” and “blame.”
One Tennessee Baptist reportedly chided his flock for getting “all up in arms about 20 children” when thousands are aborted. “I believe they use children and Christmas and all that to pull on our heartstrings about gun control,” the Rev. Sam Morris said.
People like Dobson and the others mentioned are so despicable that it is tempting to ignore them. In a way it seems wrong to give such ridiculous taunts more attention, but then it hits you. Millions believe this way. Millions of our fellow citizens make it possible for Dobson and his ilk to preach, prosper and multiply.
In the Connecticut village where a procession of funerals has eclipsed Christmas, parents and friends are mourning. It seems too much that so-called men of faith are standing on the back of this incredible grief to promulgate hate.
This is, of course, a free country. There are constitutional amendments to allow us to say what we think, to worship any way we want, to own guns, to make ridiculous claims in the name of religion. A free country, yes, but a sane one? I sometimes wonder.
There is nothing that can bring back the selfless Sandy Hook teachers who used themselves as human shields to try to save their pupils. There is nothing that can bring back the little children who were days away from celebrating Christmas with their families. There will be no neat answer to how and why a young man became capable of such savagery and violence.
What we do know is this. A disturbed individual with access to many guns let loose his own Old Testament-style wrath, and without a blink of mercy mowed down his own mother and many others.
To experience this despair vicariously, from many states away, is one thing. For those directly involved, living on is one tough proposition.
But surely there is something still that defines us as human, that makes us better than the worst of us and stronger than the weakest.
Perhaps those who pretend to get their answers directly from a loving god should be praying for guidance, gun control and their own sick souls.
Syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson lives near Iuka. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852. To find out more about Rheta Grimsley Johnson and her books, visit www.rhetagrimsleyjohnsonbooks.com.