Where was God?

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While they were communing with God, gunman Dylann Roof sat among them for forty-five minutes. Then he opened fire and killed nine of them. That’s forty-five minutes during which time God could have warned the Christians who believed he was listening to them that something terrible was about to happen. But he didn’t. The communication was all one way. They talked to him but he didn’t talk to them. He didn’t even listen. Why not? Because either he doesn’t care what happens to his people, despite what Jesus promised, or he isn’t there.

After the massacre, Christians across America resorted to pleading with this negligent God to comfort the bereaved and to help police find the killer. We can be sure God didn’t do any such thing because if he cared at all, he wouldn’t have let the massacre happen in the first place. 

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee declared that if only some of those at the prayer meeting had been ‘pistol-packing’ themselves, they could have taken out Roof before he did too much damage. And he’s right – absurd as it sounds, one of them could have done. So why didn’t the God who never forsakes his people prompt one of them to take a gun to church? Perhaps because, unreasonably, he thinks it’s better to turn the other cheek. Either way, mark God down for another fail.

Fellow crank, the ‘reverend’ E. W. Jackson, blamed the shootings on liberals, gays and Obama. So, God – pissed with those who don’t support ‘Christian values’ –  allowed a gunman to mow down nine of his own. Makes sense.   

Debbie Dills, meanwhile, spotted the killer’s car on the freeway and informed the police. She later claimed this was God’s doing; the very God incapable of warning his loved ones they were about to be murdered. This God, who allowed his people to be massacred, directed Debbie Mills, who cannot see that she was just happened to be in the right place at the right time, to notice the killer’s vehicle and report his whereabouts.

Let’s get real: a God who can’t prevent the murder of nine of his children but then behaves like a third-rate Jessica Fletcher is no God at all. He is an impotent creation, a being of trivial pursuits, who fails to materialise when he’s really needed; a mythical figure who keeps his super-powers to himself, except in the most insignificant and coincidental of occurrences; a figment of believers’ imaginations.

Show us he’s not, Christians, why don’t you. Show us how he loves you, never forsakes you and protects even the hairs on your heads. Where is he? Where’s the evidence he exists, outside your inconsistent, fallacious scriptures and your own wishful thinking? Where in this real world? The people of Charleston really need to know.

Christians’ Favourite Delusions 2: Prayer works.

CaptureThe Bishop of Honolulu, Larry Silva, is upset. He wants true believers to pray away the gay. He’d really like God to stop same-sex marriage from coming to Hawaii. And prayer is the answer, because, without it, God might not be inclined to bother himself.

It worked so well in the UK. Groups of Christians muttering about abomination, sin and damnation petitioned God to stop equality from happening here too. Which is why, last month, the same-sex marriage bill passed into law.

So what went wrong?

According to those who know God better than the rest of us, he’s pretty uncool about the gay (Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 etc) so we might wonder why he didn’t just veto same-sex marriage and have done with it. Maybe, though, he couldn’t be trusted to do the Right Thing, and needed reminding, by the most fallible of human beings, of what it was he was required to do.

Still he didn’t take the hint and even though they told him, God decided in the end – or maybe it was In The Beginning – not to bother preventing same-sex marriage in the UK and in other parts of the world.

So what does this tell us about all those unanswered prayers Christians sent heavenward? There are four possible explanations of why they failed miserably.

Either:

1. God has other plans. Namely, he wants to use same-sex marriage to bring about the End Times (yes, really).

2. The faithful didn’t pray hard enough, – though why intensity of prayer should have any bearing on whether God decides to grant petitions is never explained. Be that as it may, on this occasion Christians just didn’t pray with sufficient feeling to persuade their Heavenly Father to buy them the chocolate bar at the check-out er… prevent gay marriage. (Yes, it’s completely nonsensical, but I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here).

3. God doesn’t give two hoots about human politics, institutions, social arrangements… and has no interest in who marries who.

Or,

4. God doesn’t actually exist. How else to explain his unresponsiveness, his perpetual invisibility, his total absence from any sphere of existence outside human imagination?

Whichever alternative applies in this scenario – and let’s be honest, there are no others – it is evident that prayer doesn’t work in the way Jesus said it would (Matthew 18.19, John 14.13 &16.23). Not even the most devout Christians can get it to, demonstrating emphatically that, actually, it doesn’t work at all.

So good luck, Bishop Silva. Looks like we can expect to see same-sex marriage in Hawaii some time soon.