Huckabee blames tragedy on God’s absence

The former Arkansas governor says violence is a consequence of removing God from the public square.

By Bob Allen

Former presidential candidate turned talk-show host Mike Huckabee stood by controversial comments blaming the deadly Dec. 14 shootings in Connecticut on the lack of religion in public schools.

The day 27 people, including 20 children, died in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked the former Arkansas governor, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and former pastor, to respond to the inevitable question, “How could God let this happen?”

“Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing,” Huckabee said. “We ask why there’s violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

“We’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability; that we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before a Holy God in judgment,” said Huckabee, a past president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. “If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.”

Criticized for attributing the mass murder/suicide to the removal of prayer and Bible reading from public schools, Huckabee opened his own Fox News program Dec. 15 with a rejoinder to “the predictable left.”

“It’s far more than just taking prayer or Bible reading out of the schools,” Huckabee said. “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 is 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.”

“We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are sinful, and we call them disorders,” he continued. “Sometimes we even say they’re normal. And to get to where that we have to abandon bedrock moral truths, then we are asked, well, where was God?

“And I respond, that as I see it, we have 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.”

Huckabee further addressed the controversy in a monologue that he posted on his website and Facebook.

“I would never say that simply taking prayer and Bible reading from our institutions or silencing Christmas carols is the direct cause of a mass murder,” Huckabee said. “That would be ludicrous and simplistic.”

“But the cause and effect we see in the dramatic changes of what our children are capable of is a part of a cultural shift from a God-centered culture to a self-centered culture,” he continued. “We have glorified uninhibited self-expression and individualism and are shocked that we have a generation of loners.

“We have insisted on a society where everyone gets a trophy and no one loses and act surprised that so many kids lack self-esteem and feel like losers.

“We dismiss the notion of natural law and the notion that there are moral absolutes and seem amazed when some kids make it their own morality to kill innocent children.

“We diminish and even hold in contempt the natural family of a father and mother creating and then responsibly raising the next generation and then express dismay that kids feel no real connection to their families or even the concept of a family.

“We scoff at the need for mothers and fathers to make it their priority to train their children to be strong in spirit and soul and responsible for right and wrong and exalt instead the virtue of having things and providing expensive toys, games, and electronics that substitute for parenting and then don’t understand why our kids would rather have ear buds dangling from their ears, fingers attaching to a smart phone and face attached to a computer screen than to have an extended conversation with their family at dinner.

"And we don’t teach them there is a Creator God who sets immutable rules, a God who is knowable, and to whom we are ultimately responsible. Instead we teach that God was not involved in our origins, that our very lives are biological happenstances and in fact are disposable should they be inconvenient to us, and that any outrageous behaviors are not sin, but disorders for which we should be excused and accommodated.”

Huckabee was governor of Arkansas on March 24, 1998, when 11-year-old and 13-year-old cousins Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson killed four of their classmates and a teacher in a sniper-shooting attack outside of Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark.

At the time Huckabee expressed "collective sympathy to every one of the victims, their families, their friends, but perhaps most significantly to all of those children who will for the rest of their lives have the indelible images imbedded into their psyches” as a result of the tragedy.

"The activities of a few young people are not the activities of all young people," Huckabee said of the Jonesboro attackers.

Running for president in 2008, Huckabee said in a sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., that Arkansas changed a law that required the duo be released from custody when they turned 18, because in 161 years of history it never occurred to the legislature "that we would have 11-year-olds committing mass murder on a school campus."

At least one of the Jonesboro shooters had reportedly been active in church at some point prior to “getting an attitude” while in middle school. During their incarceration at the Alexander Youth Services Center, Chaplain Greg Kirksey, at the time president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, met with the two boys and described himself as their “pastor.” Kirksey recalled to Baptist Press the initial meeting, when Johnson called him “an answer to prayer.”

"Who is going to reach out to a love-starved guy like Mitchell if not the Christian community?” Kirksey reflected on the experience. “Where does he turn? Where does he go if he repents? Is there any hope or is he damned forever? Has he committed the unpardonable sin? Do we throw him in the dumpster for life, for eternity?"

Both of the Jonesboro shooters had further run-ins with the law after their release.

A year after his release from federal prison at age 21, Golden applied for a concealed-carry permit under an alias that was denied after state police matched fingerprints to reveal his identity.

Johnson returned to prison at age 24 after being convicted on a federal charge of possessing a firearm while being a user of, or addicted to, a controlled substance related to a traffic stop in 2007.