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home : opinion : columnists May 23, 2016

12/26/2012 4:10:00 PM
A response to Huckabee's 'Where was God?'

Pastor Alex Schmidt
Faith Lutheran

If you missed Gov. Huckabee's comments you can view them at:

In some ways, I couldn't have agreed more with Gov. Huckabee. Yes, indeed the issue is more complicated than simply reinstating "prayer in schools." But I take issue with his central premise (root cause?) that God has been chased out of our schools and public places. That may be the perception by some, but I believe Gov. Huckabee may have been a bit simplistic in that he didn't go far enough. 

His commentary caused me to stop, ponder and do some lengthy critical thinking. How difficult that is for me to do at times! I needed to write down my thoughts, if for no other reason but for my own benefit--and perhaps now to share them with others.

What other kinds of things could Gov. Huckabee have added to his list of things gone wrong and other places where we have "excused God's presence?" (i.e. absence of Nativity Sets, 10 Commandment posters, etc). Let me offer some additions:

Why didn't Gov. Huckabee mention the individual and corporate greed that continues to ravage the Earth and its atmosphere, in which many God-fearing Christians participate while denying its reality? How about a national epidemic of consumption that has caused our nation to be the 2nd greatest polluter in the world, next to China? Where might God be in that? What "bedrock moral values" are being violated here by "good Christian folk" who say "Lord, Lord" but disregard His teaching?

What about this debilitating national (global?) economic catastrophe which has cost millions their jobs as well as homes, caused by "good white church going Jesus folk?" Not immigrants, by the way. Would it have helped if these financial leaders would've had a Ten Commandments plaque on their desks? As if they already didn't know?

How about two ongoing (U.S.) wars, longer than both World Wars combined, whose "pre-emptive Crusade" was based on lies? Was it not supported by well intentioned "born again" leaders who begin their day with prayer? Have we ourselves justified that "murder" commandment Huckabee talked about and forgotten Jesus' teachings on non-violence?

If a National Budget is a moral document, where is "In God We Trust" when our military spending totals more than the next dozen nations combined and our nuclear stockpile is able to destroy the earth how many times over? Didn't the Old Testament Prophets have something to say about trusting in chariots rather than God? Where is God in our "fear" that perpetuates a proliferation of guns and a culture obsessed with violence as a way of settling conflict? Why then are we surprised?

Shall we mention the maladies of malaria or the increase in global poverty which could significantly be reduced if some of that military funding were redirected and our consumption curtailed? Or the fact that over 20 percent of our nation's children want for sufficient food? Where is God in these "our" priorities, from a nation whose leaders promote an annual Prayer Breakfast? 

Why didn't Gov. Huckabee talk about walls and fences being built all over the world, including a nation that has as its emblem the Statue of Liberty, that have locked people in and kept others out? Doesn't God have something to say about the "stranger at the gate?" How about the innumerable jobs being outsourced so that our corporation's bottom lines can provide a larger CEO bonus and we can buy even more stuff?

Shall we even dare consider the ongoing domestic violence, sexual abuse and impropriety within our Christian homes and Congregations-- especially those which are perpetrated by our trusted pastoral leaders? Is God not there? And yet?

Did Gov. Huckabee forget how the rest of the world perceives and critiques our national policies regarding the Middle East? The illegal settlements on Palestinian soil which the rest of the world decries! That coupled with Israel's unjust and oppressive "occupation policies," which we support by our silence, while yet rightly and publicly condemning rockets directed towards Israel?

Would that Gov. Huckabee have mentioned religious "God centered" fundamentalism of all shapes and sizes which perpetuate and encourage intolerance, incredible hatred, and unending violence in the name of God? Both here and abroad.

If we believe in the Incarnation and that "God is in our midst," why then would we even consider that God was not present in those elementary classrooms with God's daughters and sons? If God is indeed "with us," as we claim, did God not hear the screams, feel the brutality of evil, and experience death with them? Yes, I agree with Gov. Huckabee, God showed up with those who bravely came to help--ever as much as Jesus was with those children and teachers. Was he not carrying them in his arms? Did Jesus not experience such brutality himself? All this makes me want to turn off the T.V. and bury my head even more than it is already!

So then, how do we as Children of the Beloved respond without becoming totally simplistic in our thinking or becoming demoralized, paralyzed, and depressed? The Old Testament prophet Amos spoke to these kinds of things long before Dec. 14. And he wrote his scathing rebuke against the "good and sincere God-fearing" religious and political leaders of Israel which just as scathing as Jesus' remarks to the same type of "religious" folk in Matthew 23. My Bible comments on this book: "The message of Amos is a challenge to people and nations caught up in the pursuit of material wealth and comfort (idolatry?). Societies driven by consumerism (fear, and what else?) can lose sight of faithful stewardship of wealth and the just distribution of goods. Amos reminded the people that true faithfulness is trusting in God alone and treating the neighbor with justice."

Amos essentially says, and I paraphrase, "religious ritual without accompanying acts of social justice is meaningless." (Amos 5:21-24, as well as Isaiah 58). Amos further exclaims "But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." He echoes courageous Micah: "God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

Yes, let's get beyond simply prayer in schools or manger scenes in front of public buildings. Let's be brave enough to look and the broader picture and not be afraid to critique our own "white-washed tombs" of hypocrisy.

Does not Neighbor Justice begin with each of us? How then shall we be? How then shall we live? Sigh.

Faith Lutheran Church, Leavenworth - 548-7010

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