Hans Fiene is a Lutheran pastor and a regular contributor to the right-wing website The Federalist. He also has written an insane column about Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The insanity starts right away; in the title he says of the people murdered in the church that “God was answering their prayers.”
Fiene starts off by shaming “secular progressives” for criticizing people who offered “thoughts and prayers” after the shooting, especially those criticizing Republican politicians. After pointing out a couple of examples he says, “When those saints of First Baptist Church were murdered yesterday, God wasn’t ignoring their prayers. He was answering them.” Um, if that is true, then God, STOP HELPING!
He goes on to write that, “It may seem, on the surface, that God was refusing to give such protection to his Texan children. But we are also praying that God would deliver us from evil eternally. Through these same words, we are asking God to deliver us out of this evil world and into his heavenly glory, where no violence, persecution, cruelty, or hatred will ever afflict us again.” Right, so this God who is full of love and kindness created a world full of evil and violence that we have to suffer through, but that is OK because he did it all so that at the end of the suffering we get a better deal in the afterlife. That is love?
Fiene continues by writing that, in order for God to fully defeat evil forever, he has to let evil get some temporary victories, like the shooting in Texas. He writes, “Sometimes, his will is done by allowing temporal evil to be the means through which he delivers us from eternal evil. Despite the best (or, more accurately, the worst) intentions of the wicked against his children, God hoists them on their own petard by using their wickedness to give those children his victory, even as the wicked often mock the prayers of their prey.”
Um, Hans, buddy? I thought God was omnipotent. Why would he be forced to let evil win temporarily? If God truly wants to defeat evil forever, and he is all-powerful, then why not just defeat evil?
Fiene really lays it all out on the table of delusion when he says, “Despite the horror that madman made the saints of First Baptist endure, those who endured it with faith in Christ have received his victory. Although the murderer filled their eyes with terror, God has now filled them with his glory. Although he persecuted them with violence, God seized that violence and has now used it to deliver his faithful into a kingdom of peace. Although this madman brought death to so many, God has used that death to give them the eternal life won for them in the blood of Jesus.”
This is a stark example of the kind of severely damaged thinking that religion creates. People who think in this way show a total lack of real empathy for the suffering of others. “It’s just God’s will!” “God wanted you to get shot and bleed out on the floor of his church in the middle of that hymn!” “Glory be to God for answering your prayers with a bullet to your brain!”
For the people who lived through the shooting, or who lost family members to it, this kind of talk is despicable. Is it really comforting knowing that your grandchildren were slaughtered because God wanted to answer their prayers? God so loves us that he helps you find your keys when you thought you lost them, but he lets your neighbors get butchered in church while praying to him? That is not love.
God either does not exist, or he is a homicidal lunatic. I am sticking with he does not exist.