After 9/11, I joined my closest friend at a church she attended for a time. This church had a large following and specifically dealt in the born-again demographic. The place was packed with people looking for comfort, for support and for answers in why something so horrific happened on such a beautiful September day without a cloud in the sky.
I was there, I guess, because I was looking for comfort too. I am not comfortable calling myself an atheist and I’m also not a person with deep belief. I tend to see a higher order in the universe, yet consider Jesus a prophet of sorts as I do Muhammad, but that’s the beginning and end of it. I live a life according to my faith in “good people’” which is to say I help wherever possible, am loyal to a fault and hold myself to a high level of integrity and responsibility.
But there I was, like many others, in a church on the Sunday after 9/11. It didn’t take long for the preacher to begin to point fingers: at the ACLU for making homosexuality mainstream and to the godless among us.
“America is chosen, exceptional,” he said “and on September 11th we found out what happens when God removes his protective hands from our nation. He gave us a glimpse of what will continue to happen if we call homosexuals friends and forget the greatness of God, the Father, and Jesus, his Son. Everyone has a chance today to accept Jesus as their savior.”
I looked around searching for confirmation of the outrage I felt burning, but instead there were many shaking their heads in agreement, hands raised above and others walking to the preacher to accept a view of Jesus as a hateful, spiteful thing of worship.
I walked out.
It was the last time I ever looked to a church for comfort in tragedy.
I accept different views on policy and who should run this country, but I draw the line at assholes from the pulpit or Arkansas who insist that if only six and seven year-olds had opened their school day with prayer than maybe they would still be alive.
Prayer may be a comfort for many, but in the place I like to reside — some people call it reality — it will not stop a bullet, or cancer or 9/11. To suggest otherwise is, in fact, playing evangelical politics which is supposed to be something this crowd abhors.
The truth about why 20 little girls and boys, along with their teachers, principal and school psychologist, were shot multiple times with a semi-automatic rifle similar to what troops in Iraq use may never be known, but praying that it will never happen again can almost guarantee that it will.
Because prayer resides on the spectrum of hope and faith, which has very little to do with extended magazines, assault rifles, tactical gear and a nation so in love with ending lives instead of taking reasonable action to protect them that too many of us worship at the altar of the second amendment based on fear. We do, then, cling to our guns and our religion as a nation.
Too many folks trust in guns for protection and place far too much faith in the unknown that others will use them responsibly and, when they do not, that massacres will never happen again.
Shame on us for regulating text messaging more than guns in the 13 years since Columbine.
Shame on us for turning a blind eye to politicians and presidents, including our current one, for delivering heartfelt speeches instead of legislation.
And shame on us for cowering to the NRA and accepting their position that any regulation is an assault on freedom; which is both absurd and an unbelievably efficient donor campaign for dues and successful lobbying.
But all of this stops now.
I’m tired of hearing people say “if only there was an armed guard at the school” or “people kill people, not guns.” Nope, completely finished even entertaining that I care about these two rebuttals for the sake of “fairness” because they are completely and utterly fucking stupid.
And by that I mean based on absolutely no facts. Politeness is over. It died the other day when children who couldn’t even spell murder were massacred; their tiny bodies riddled with bone crushing, heart-stopping explosions of violence. And for absolutely no reason.
Guns kill. That is an absolute. Lets start there and proceed accordingly.