If God is the Answer, What is the Question?


Using the recent shooting for political advantage, a conservative politician declared that we do not have a gun problem; we have a sin problem. It is popular in such circles to suggest that the solution to all these problems is to put god back in school. With more god in school, problems such as violence, drugs, and a sense of worthlessness would just go away. The above picture showed up on my Facebook stream. I find these sentiments shallow, crass, and offensive. Here are just a few of the reasons:

1. it completely ignores the obvious. There are plenty of Catholic and Christian schools ranging from elementary to university. None are free of these problems. These schools put god front and center with no apparent improvement to the sin problem.

2. God is in even more homes throughout the country and around the world. In the parts of the country and the world where god is most proclaimed, think Bible Belt, the problems are worse and more numerous than in less godly places. In the Bible Belt, children are more likely to be physically and sexually abused, bullied, and emotionally diminished. Women are more likely to suffer discrimination, and be reduced to servile roles. There is more suicide and homicide. Their is more teen pregnancy, divorce, and disease. There is more of just about every bad thing you can think of in places where god most visibly abides.

3. How exactly did we get god out of the schools? We are talking about god, right? Is not god everywhere, watching over everyone, protecting all his children regardless of whether there is public prayer, isn’t he? He is god. His will be done. How on earth did we throw him out? Did he decide to take his ball and go home after a school board voted out the Ten Commandments? Surely he is not capable of that level of petulance, is he? If he can be that easily barred from protecting innocent school children, then what good is he?

4. If the only thing needed is to put god back in school, as if we can move god from place to place like a golden calf, then surely, the blame for school massacres falls on us: parents, teachers, and of course, those wicked little children. Surely, god caused the massacres to show his anger at being barred from school. Is that really what you want to say?

If god is the only answer, then we’re screwed. God has not been the solution for any of these problems at any place and time in the world. When is he going to start being the solution? When has more god meant less war and more equality? If god is not the answer to these questions, then for what questions is he the answer? In every school where there has been a massacre, god has been there, along with many faithful believers. In many schools, he is in the curriculum. That is still not enough. He is publicly proclaimed. That is still not enough.

Perhaps we just need to do more, do our part to help god work his will. But if your god needs my help to stop bad things from happening, then your god is not worth worshipping. He should never be relying on people like me to solve the problems of the world. Come to think of it, he shouldn’t be relying on you either. If we are the ones who need to solve the problems, then we really don’t need god, do we. Rather, we just need to roll up our all-too-human sleeves and get to it.

David Johnson



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