Sigh. Immediately following the Newtown tragedy, all varieties of media lit up with critiques about groups who might try to capitalize on the event to serve their own political motives. These critiques were initially directed at gun-control activists. But now a growing variety of crazies — some of them in positions of influence — are using Newtown as a backdrop to air their own fringe viewpoints. Among the more popular fringe ideas are coming from the prayer-in-school and anti-evolution camps, who are circulating messages like this one, titled “Darwin at fault for massacre,” that appeared in my local paper. According to the letter’s author, Geoff Vongermeten:
Not until Darwin goes away and in the view of humanity being specially created by God in his image can we ever hope to stem the tide of mass murder and war. Cain started it. Darwin legitimized it. Who’s going to stop it? The tools are not the problem. The philosophy is the problem!
While my local paper is known for attracting cave-dwelling weirdos, PZ Myers has assembled a round-up of comments that commanded substantial influence during the past week. The most common viewpoint seems to be that Newtown was divine punishment. A popular poem has been circulating which insinuates that Jesus wanted to “take back his schools,” i.e. Jesus had the Newtown children assassinated so that he could open an elementary school in heaven. These ideas are completely zany, but they are echoed by people like James Dobson who command a large national audience.
Conservative Christians seem to blame all tragic events on modernity, on science or secularism, or because of gays or other groups who they think aren’t receiving enough hate from our culture. I suppose it shouldn’t be too shocking that might see Newtown as a divine act, since the God of the Bible so often orders or permits infanticide. Even the first Christmas was marked by an act of mass infanticide. So that isn’t shocking. But what is shocking is that people of the 21st century still believe that this is a good model for a just and moral society. That’s plain nuts.