by William J. Murray
If an individual is not afraid of the wrath of God, it is impossible to cause him to fear the justice of the state.
The killing of young children at their school will be linked by many pundits to the availability of guns. Still others will blame the violent act on some pathology or childhood trauma. Some may even blame the Hollywood culture with its disregard for humanity, on which human bodies are seen being dissected nightly on network TV. Virtually no one will call what occurred in Newtown an act of evil.
Probably not a single sermon will be preached in which the perpetrator is predicted to have begun his eternal punishment for his crime after judgment by a just and angry God. A splintered American church driven by a pew-hungry, feel-good message will offer assurances that eternal peace awaits all those who died, including the shooter. The words “hell” and “sin” will very likely not be used in any sermons associated with the massacre.
Yes, there is societal blame: Ridiculous privacy rules that allow the mentally ill to conceal their condition from schools, employers and gun-shop owners is just one. The constant esteem building in public schools teaching even low-functioning kids with anger problems to judge themselves equal to the valedictorian is yet another.
But the greatest villain is a church that has accepted the world’s view that hell does not await evildoers.
With a weak message from a weak church, there is no restraint or lessening of the violence. The shooting at Newtown was immediately followed by a shooting at a Birmingham, Ala., hospital and a Las Vegas hotel. Across the country, there are more than 16,000 murders each year. Of those, two-thirds are committed with guns. One in three murders is a very personal, vile act of evil using a knife, a blunt instrument or bare hands.
And the response of the church to this violence is “God loves you. Have a nice day.”
Adam Lanza had to shoot his way into the locked building. Public schools are not the soft targets many think they are. In more populated areas, there is virtually always an armed “safety officer” on duty because of the threat of student violence. Why?
My mother, atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, fought to make the public schools the armed camps they are today by removing prayer, the recognition of the authority of God. In 1962 and 1963, I was attending an all-boys public high school in downtown Baltimore, Md. The school was a magnet school before the term even existed and was intended to prepare young men for college, majoring in science and engineering. There were 1,800 teenage boys in the school, and there was not a cop in the building – ever. The doors were unlocked and often the un-air-conditioned rooms had open windows. There were no metal detectors, no picture IDs, and students went in and out the doors on the honor system.
The authority of God was present, even though I am very sure many of those young men, including myself, had some pretty vile thoughts that were not in the least way moral. The presence of the authority of God, vested in the teachers by His recognition every morning, was reinforced by the churches and the families of the students.
That high school has since merged with a girl’s school in another location, for purposes of political correctness. The last time I checked, the old building itself was the headquarters of the Baltimore City Schools Police Force, something that did not exist when Baltimore’s population was nearly double what it is now. Every kid at every school now has a photo ID. All the doors of every school are locked. All doors have metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs roaming the corridors. I am told that every school in Baltimore has at least one armed “safety officer.”
In the vast majority of America’s public schools, the authority of God has been replaced with the authority of the iron fist of government. Morals? Without the authority of God, there are no morals, and none are taught in the public schools today. The ethics that are taught are situational, perhaps the same situational ethics that led to the logic that caused the tragic shootings in Newtown.
This condition exists in the schools and the society in general because of a failed church that is splintered and weak.
A large advertising sign near my home reads, “A church for those who don’t like church.” Translation: “No condemnation of sin here – we have coffee latte and great music.”
How about this politically incorrect sermon subject: “An angry God condemns the carnal sin of Adam Lanza, the Newton school shooter who killed 26, and he will rot in eternal torment in hell, as do all those who turn their backs on God and his goodness and continue their wicked and sinful ways.”
No way, no how in America today.
No number of gun-control laws can contain the evil that has been let loose in America. Not even black clad police with masks and automatic weapons can maintain social order in our out-of-control society. The nation needs a religious revival to steer it away from certain moral destruction. That revival will not come from feel-good, coffeehouse sermons that do not call sin what it is.
What are preachers today offering to “save” people from, if sin is never mentioned? What punishment are they being “saved” from, if hell is never mentioned?
The fear of an angry and vengeful God was far more likely to have stopped the shootings in Newtown than the warm voice of a psychologist or the soothing feeling of drugs.
Eternity in hell is a very long time.
One of the greatest revival sermons of all times was that of Jonathon Edwards – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Can you imagine even this one portion being repeated in a church in America today: “There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.”
God is not in the business of saving evil nations from themselves, but He is in the business of offering salvation to individuals. A nation is saved from ruin when enough of its people turn from their wicked ways and follow His righteous commands.
The challenge is to the churches of every denomination to preach the true Word of God, the nature of sin and the consequences of perpetrating evil. This alone can turn the society from its violent and destructive path.
William J. Murray is the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C., and the author of seven books. His My Life Without God chronicles his childhood with his mother atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Used by permission of William J. Murray