Published Sunday, December 23, 2012

Alex McRae: School prayers welcome for once

Column by ALEX MCRAE

alex@newnan.com

Last year at this time, near-record numbers of Americans were looking for jobs.

This year, we are all looking for an answer. We want to know why. Why, on a bright, cool morning in postcard pretty Newtown, Connecticut town, a heavily-armed loser forced his way into Sandy Hook School and gunned down six adults and 20 innocent first-graders.

We all want to know—why? And history shows, we will never get a satisfactory answer. Just theories and suppositions from countless experts on everything from child psychology to school safety to gun control.

The discussion will go on for decades. But before the first baby was buried, the parents of the slain children and the citizens of the town that will forever be linked to this horror didn’t seek answers from experts.

They sought comfort from God

And they weren’t shy about it. Since the day of the shooting, as news cameras rolled, parents, friends and citizens all came forth to express their grief and horror and say that they would rely on their faith to give them strength for today and comfort in the trying times ahead.

Sunday night, the City of Newtown hosted a memorial service at the Sandy Hook High School. No one pretended it was anything but religious in nature.

Representatives of every local church were on hand. Every faith—even Islam—was represented. Every last speaker reminded those present that while some questions will linger forever, God’s strength and comfort had been present since the moment the first shots were fired.

The pastors, preachers, rabbi, priests and imam reminded everyone that God is always present, even in the most horrible of times. And times don’t get any worse than the Newtown school shootings.

The event was broadcast nationwide. Prayer after prayer was offered. God and Jesus were mentioned over and over. President Obama even stepped from his secular political role to remind everyone that their faith in God was their best hope for healing.

Only one group was not represented at Sandy Hook High School Sunday night. The anti-religion, anti-church, anti-God crowd who holler themselves hoarse demanding separation of church and state. The same people who demand that any suggestion of religion be banned from public places kept silent as a prayer vigil took place in a public school where organized student prayer is banned.

And no one wondered why.

Those that preach the gospel of secularism knew this was no place for their message. The most stubborn atheist must have known that his “best wishes” and “earnest thoughts” were no match for even the most awkward prayer offered by a small child.

Some don’t want God or Christmas mentioned in retail outlets. Many don’t want religion mentioned or shown in the public square and there is a small army of people who fight daily to see that God is never mentioned in school.

But when an entire nation came together to offer aid and comfort to a town that had just lost 20 precious children and six brave teachers, not one objected when the town gathered in a public school to pray for the kind of help even the most well-meaning government can never provide.

Not a soul complained about prayer in school. Mostly because they had nothing else to offer.

In their time of sorrow and anguish, the people of Newtown turned to God. And on this occasion, a school building was the perfect house of prayer.

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