EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 23, 2012

Reflections on the tragedy

It was ironic to read and hear hundreds of political leaders, talking heads and citizen activists demanding that we not “politicize” the horrific murders in Newtown, Conn., all while rushing to politicize it themselves with demands that their values be imposed on everybody else in the country.

After listening to this frenzy of self-righteousness for more than a week, I have no demands. But I think a few observations and questions are in order:

President Obama, in his moving speech at a memorial service for the victims, invoked God a half-dozen times. He quoted Scripture, from the Christian Bible. He said that God had “called (the victims) home” to heaven.

And perhaps for the first time since 9/11 (outside of inaugural or State of the Union speeches that close with a rote “And may God bless the United States of America”), this did not prompt screams of outrage or threats of lawsuits from groups like the ACLU. No complaints that the president was violating the “wall of separation” between church and state. No protests that some in the audience may have been Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists or of other beliefs and may have felt “uncomfortable” at the overtly Christian rhetoric.

It was a welcome silence.

No, I don’t want to live in a theocracy. I don’t want a state church. But I do want expressions of religious faith to be welcome in the public square.

Any God worth believing in — any God who would consider “blessing” the United States of America — has got to be welcome at more than memorial services following mass murder.

As is always the case at times like this, the National Rifle Association is demonized not just for its relentless defense of the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms — but also for its unwillingness to make even small compromises. Most Americans support bans on assault weapons and magazine clips of more than 10 rounds. Most support more thorough background checks before someone is allowed to purchase a gun. If the NRA is concerned about safety, why doesn’t it go along with those modest restrictions? They wouldn’t eliminate the right to bear arms.

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