Christian Nationalism and School Shootings

American Christian FishThe poem below was sent to me by my Christian Conservative aunt. If she’s sent it out, it must be viral among the Christian crowd on the internet. It is a parody of Twas the Night Before Christmas. As poetry, it shows about as much skill as I’ve come to expect from ChristiProp. There is a total lack of understanding of accents and meter. For example, the first line of the song has 12 syllables; the parody has 15.[1] But this isn’t what bothers me.

I can accept the assumption that all kids go to heaven. I can even accept that all the children are happy except for that one little girl who is a total buzz kill remembering her parents. But I can’t accept the explicit political nature of the poem. Just on the surface: none of these kids seem to remember their teachers. When I was that age, my teachers were very important to me; I spent a lot of time with them. But the poem doesn’t even mention teachers, I suspect because they are (1) union members and (2) teaching in a secular school.

Much more problematic is badass Jesus. He’s going to take his country back. He’s wants the country taken out of the hands of “fools.” Who do you think he could mean? I’ll bet Sarah Palin could tell you. And, of course, he’s going to take back the schools, because that’s what caused this shooting: no school prayer. This is pure Christian Nationalism: what we really need is for America to be a Christian Nation. That and tax cuts for the rich will solve all our problems.

It is interesting that murders at schools have been going down. This is from Up with Chris Hayes:

Homicides in Grammar and High Schools

So that’s a little good news. But the good news of the poem is: ain’t it nice to think that all these children are now living in bliss with Jesus. That may be a happy thought, but it doesn’t do anything for those of us who don’t believe in their myths. In fact, it is worse than that: such happy thoughts just allow us to continue to do nothing about problems that actually exist.

This poem may serve to make certain people feel better. But its main intent is to push a particular, very conservative, political agenda. You have to ask yourself: why would it take this particular tragedy to inspire Jesus to “take his country back”? If he does have this power, why didn’t he do it 2000 years ago? And if it is because humans just have to make their own mistakes, then why did the murder of these 20 children cause him to change this policy?

Read the poem. I think it is worth it. Also: I’d be interested in what others have to say.

Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“this is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“may this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“come now my children, let me show you around.”
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

Update (28 December 2012 2:25 pm)

Jeremy wrote a really good article at Our Daily Train that is well worth checking out:

[1] How about this, which took me no time at all:

Twas just days before Christmas, ’round nine thirty-eight
When 20 lovely children stormed through heaven’s gate.

And yes, I understand that the “20” is still wrong, but I figure it is very important to them to drive home what they’re talking about. “When loads of bright children stormed through heaven’s gate” works much better.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Christian Nationalism and School Shootings

  1. Oof. Too much darkness here to deal with.

    1: The borderline fetishization of innocent (white) children. (If this massacre happened at a Black school and had a Black shooter, imagine how different the response would be.) Kids pick their noses and eat the boogers. Kids try to gain popularity by demeaning other kids; they tend to reflect their parents in this way.

    2. So each of us has an immortal soul, but when we go to Heaven our soul is permanently frozen at the point of development we reached when we died. If you’re a five-year-old, you get to be five forever. Well, that sucks. I hated being a child and couldn’t wait to grow up, myself. This just smacks of the kind of adults who didn’t like that their children grew up. Or who hate being adults themselves.

    3. The presumption that Bad Things Happen because Jesus/God disapproves of us not teaching kids to mime certain prayers by rote in school. Because the all-powerful creator of existence isn’t interested in anything but blind, numbed allegiance. (He/She/It only gave us brains as a temptation towards independent thought. Why not just stop with creating garden slugs, already?)

    4: That past happy things for the United States were due to God/Jesus’s approval. Apparently, He/She/It dug slavery and genocide and barring women from the vote. But letting gays live is a no-no. That particular bitch only surfaced once hating on interracial marriage became socially despicable; they switched to a new reason God Is Angry. Now that hating on gays is increasingly becoming socially despicable, they’re going back to an old meme, Prayer In Schools. Once upon a time that was code for "why should we let Jews stop us from doing what we want in our school district?" THAT’s now socially despicable, but fortunately "prayer in schools" has a new connotation; gutting government and turning everything over to private charters (which have such a terrific track record.) UGHHHHH!

    5. To my understanding, religious instruction wasn’t taken out of schools because of those infernal Jews and atheists; it was Protestants. They were nervous about Catholic immigrants, and worried that religion in heavy-Catholic districts might be taught the Wrong Way, so they opted for Jefferson’s "wall of separation."

    6. Most European schools teach mandatory comparative religion courses to students. This does not make them religious, since a child learning that every religion save their own relies on dubious myths might tend to see their own myths as questionable. (It sure happened to me.) The Christers often claim they just want their "values respected" (or some such) in schools; this is bunk. They don’t want religion taught; they want fundamentalist indoctrination taught. And not even because they worry about their kids (whose minds they warp happily), but because teaching indoctrination will please the Jesus. This will end school shootings, prevent terrorist attacks, and cause third-quarter housing starts to rise 3%. (The LORD is subtler these days than in his youth.)

    7. It’s not fair for me to pick on simple people like your relative who sent the e-mail. Obviously they mean well, and were scarred as children so far that they now worship blind authority. Many of them are not stupid. It makes you wonder where the tipping point is. Most people I know with inquisitive minds weren’t necessarily brought up by parents that encouraged that trait. In fact, being brought up to think as they were told gave them a motivation NOT to think as they were told. But none of my friends were seriously physically abused as children, which is uncommon. The numbers for sexual abuse and child beating in America are off the charts, and I wouldn’t be surprised, at all, if this demographic corresponded heavily with the fundamentalist persuasion. Fear and love your tyrant.

    Which brings me back to #1 — but, to lighten things up, no, not a single damn line of that parody matches the original’s meter. You’d think that one would, only by accident.

  2. [quote]You have to ask yourself: why would it take this particular tragedy to inspire Jesus to [b]"take his country back"?[/b] If he does have this power, why didn’t he do it 2000 years ago?[/quote]

    Yeah, really. God was either just too cruel to do it 2000 years ago, or he couldn’t – thus exhibiting a lack of omnipotence. They’re really displaying their lack of logic with this one. And since when is America Jesus’ country anyway? Wasn’t he supposedly born in Palestine?

    I love how America has become Jesus’ country. It must be because our country is home to so many righteous conservative Christians whose philosophy are so similar to that of Jesus. You know, hatred of homosexuals, capital punishment, making the rich richer while leaving the poor out to dry, laissez faire capitalism, and the rejection of altruism; [i]just[/i] like Jesus’!

  3. @Andy 2. Note how infantilizing the poem (and the Religion) is: it is a hierarchy; Jesus is the King. So effectively, everyone who goes heaven will be a child.

    4. Around the time of the Civil War, there really was a major divide between Christians who were against slavery and Christians who followed the Bible. The Bible is a great book if you are looking for reasons to get your hate on.

    5. I didn’t know that. You know the scene in [i]Life of Brian[/i] where they are complaining about all the other revolutionary groups? That is very much my experience with different denominations.

    6. In Europe they teach religion as a subject. I’m very much for this. (I believe everyone should have to learn Shakespeare and the Bible, even though I have my problems with both.) Those who want God put back in schools don’t want this at all. They want children to be taught religion as the truth. They would hate the way I would teach Christianity, which is exactly the way I would teach any other mythology.

    And yes, God does now work in mysterious ways. And God saw that America was good. And He did raiseth its aggregate demand by half.

    7. She was more of a new age kind of person when she was younger. We used to discuss Jung and stuff. But over time…

    Yeah, asking for random from a conservative is a lot. What do you think they are? Monkeys with typewriters?

  4. @Mack – Indeed. You would think Jesus said, "It’s easy for a rich man to get into heaven, but a poor man is as likely to make it in as he is to fit through the eye of a needle."

    Speaking of omnipotence: the 1st commandment has always bothered me. Why would you say that the people should have no god above you if you are the only god? It doesn’t make any sense.

  5. [quote]Speaking of omnipotence: the 1st commandment has always bothered me. Why would you say that the people should have no god above you if you are the only god? It doesn’t make any sense.[/quote]

    Well, I think that the writers of the Old Testament were probably [i]not[/i] monotheists. There were many gods worshipped at that time, and I don’t think they were saying that the people should not [i]believe[/i] in other gods but Yahweh, but to [i]worship[/i] no other gods but Yahweh. Monotheism (if Christianity even is monotheism) came later. Remember, the Bible was written and compiled over many years by many people, and it contradicts itself in many places.

    Another problem I have with the first commandment is simply the fact that the first commandment isn’t "Thou shalt not kill." Faith is more important than not murdering your fellow man. Also, I wonder: were the Ten Commandments written for all of humankind, or just Hebrews/Christians?

    And speaking of the Ten Commandments, I could think of a much better, much more ethical ten commandments to live by than those put forward on the stone tablets of Christian myth.

  6. @Mack – That is my take too. My understanding is that Judaism was part of a social move toward monotheism. But the first commandment undercuts the whole idea that the commandments came from God. If he wrote them, he would say something more like, "I am the only God so get over it."

    People have put together secular sets of commandments. And they are better. If you were to boil down the ten we have to one, it would be this: you better love God. If you added a second, it would be: don’t covet your neighbor’s stuff. What great rules to live by! Love God and don’t covet. Also: don’t murder if you can manage it.

    As Christopher Hitchens was found of noting: it is offensive to suggest that the Jews of that time had to told that murder was wrong.

  7. @Frank:Don’t take my word for it that Protestants were key in removing religious instruction from schools. It’s something I read on the Web, and I don’t put anything in my "solid history" mental bank unless I’ve read it in a book, with footnotes I can look up to verify. Does sound logical, though.

    @Mack — Years ago, when Garofalo was on the radio, she did a piece where the 10 C’s were re-interpreted by one of the Upright Citizens’ Brigade guys (the really strange-looking one.) They included "don’t bogart that joint," "don’t leave the patio door open, we’re not air-conditioning the outside," and "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."

    I took a college course about ancient Judaism 20 years ago, and as far as I remember, in the original language, God was either described as the unpronounceable four-letter symbol called "Yahweh" in English, or as "massive." AKA, bigger than other, competing gods. A celestial Orson Welles. NOT the only supernatural ass-kicker, but the most powerful. Jewish history is rife with persecution and torment by the majority, of course, so one would think that The Unpronounceable God might have lost some cred. However, the Old Testament contains story after story about how Israel nuked foreigners when they made Him happy and suffered when He was annoyed. Hence, Jewish guilt (we brought it on ourselves), which is naturally Catholic/Protestant guilt, and I assume Muslim guilt too. There’s no satisfying this deity, is there?

  8. @JMF – I don’t take anything as gospel until I read it in a printed book. Then I know it is true and never question it again.

    Those were very good commandments. However, I think people who go to Vegas get what they deserve.

    And be nice to poor Orson! Even in death the man can’t get a break!

  9. Like you, I was given a copy of the poem. Of course, my copy didn’t come from a relative but from an anonymous co-worker. Someone placed it in my chair while I was away. I’m not sure sure if the poem was printed out specifically with me in mind or if the person put it on everyone’s chair. In any case, that’s why I wrote on my site that the poem is being used by Christians as a proselytizing tool. I’m sure they mean well, but there is definitely a dark undercurrent to it.

  10. @Jeremy – No question about that. But I think I’m a bit more cynical than you: I’m not so sure they mean well. Just look at how much Christians hate each other from denomination to denomination. They are inclusive only as far as one is willing to accept their dogma rigidly.

    I’ve added a link to your article above. Thanks!

  11. @Frank: @Frank: Thanks for that! I added a link to your post on my site as well.

    Maybe I should rephrase: If they actually do mean well, they don’t understand how such a poem might be perceived by someone who doesn’t share their views. Or, it’s quite conceivable they don’t care. I do live in the South, where nonbelievers are often cast as soul-less, hateful individuals, so either case wouldn’t surprise me. Of course, I wasn’t surprised either by the nasty and rather un-Christian comments I got from believers on my post. Such Christian charity.

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