Thursday, April 10, 2014

A spiritual good-luck charm?

Yesterday yet another mass attack took place in an American high school, this time a stabbing in a well-to-do suburb about a half-hour drive from where I live. Already a number of people are saying that it happened because “we took God out of the public schools.”

And that’s inaccurate, on a number of levels. For openers, you simply cannot take God out of schools because, on an eternal level, He’s not only always around but still in control.

But what about prayer being banned in the early 1960s? There’s more to that than people remember. What was declared unconstitutional — in my view, properly — were Protestant-oriented prayer exercises sponsored and led by agents of the state, specifically public-school teachers and administrators, which really would challenge the idea that the state shouldn’t actively promote one religion over another. (Catholics formed their own schools for this very reason.)

Ironically, most of the complainers are evangelical Christians, and I sometimes wonder how they would react if another religion were similarly supported by a school district. Check that — we kind of already know, witness the outrage about stories (false or overblown) about schoolchildren being indoctrinated in Islam.

More to the point, however, it smacks of a desire for social control rather than a real desire for folks to know God and then to make Him known. No one will deny that we live in a world that’s full of evil, and assuming God will simply “take care of things” were people — especially schoolchildren — to “turn to Him” is the height of naïveté. Believers are not exempt from the troubles of the world; Christians die in accidents, get cancer, suffer from divorce and undergo other tragedies.

The church I attended in 1991 was full the Sunday after the war in Iraq broke out; the same thing happened at a different assembly, where I am now, right after 9/11. In neither scenario, however, did I suspect that things would last, and true to form, within a month attendance had reverted to normal. I was fine with that, because God is not to be used as a good-luck charm.

As Jesus Himself said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them.”

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