Like the last entry in this series — #981: Mass Shootings — today’s letter-to-the-editor (it’s sort of a column) is about the same subject. It appears in the Los Angeles Times. Their headline is Mike Huckabee ties mass shootings to an absence of faith in God. Social science proves him wrong, and we don’t see a comments feature.
Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we have an exception. It’s Phil Zuckerman, and at the end of his column we’re told: “Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College … .” Wowie — he’s a sociologist! We’ll give you a few excerpts from his column (they call it an Op-Ed), with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!
In the wake of yet another and another and another mass shooting in America — with at least 34 dead in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton — Mike Huckabee, the former governor turned pundit, repeated his go-to response: Gun violence in our country is all about waning belief in God.
If you don’t know who that is, Wikipedia has an article on Mike Huckabee. They say he’s a “Christian minister who served as the 44th governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the United States Republican presidential primaries in both 2008 and 2016. … His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, served 2 1/2 years as President Trump’s White House Press Secretary.” Okay, you know what we’re dealing with. The sociologist says:
As he piously proclaimed in a recent televised interview [link omitted]: “The common denominator in all of this is … disconnecting from God. … A lot of our country [is] utterly disconnected from any sense of identity with their creator.” Huckabee was even more explicit after the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2012 that killed 26, including many young children. Such violence occurs, he said, because “we have systematically removed God from our schools.”
Egad — we’ve removed God from our schools! After that the sociologist tells us:
Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is far from alone in holding this view. After the latest mass shootings, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said on “Fox and Friends” that if Americans don’t adequately praise God, the result will be continued carnage. So there you have it: Mass shootings in America are the direct result of people not having enough active faith in God.
Seems undeniable, right? But the sociologist doesn’t agree. He says:
The interesting thing about this hypothesis is that it is easy to test. You’ve got an independent variable (faith in God) and a dependent variable (gun violence). The hypothesis put forth by Huckabee and other Christian moralizers comes down to this: When a given society has a higher amount of faith in God, the rate of gun violence should be correspondingly lower. Conversely, the lower the amount of faith in God, the higher the rate of gun violence. But social science finds the exact opposite correlation. The facts show that strong faith in God does not diminish gun violence, nor does a lack of such faith increase gun violence.
Wowie — Huckabee is wrong! The sociologist continues:
Here’s one crystal-clear example: Faith in God is extremely high in the Philippines. One study found that the country “leads the world” in terms of its strength of faith in God, with 94% of people there saying they have always believed in God. Comparatively, the Czech Republic, is one of the most atheistic nations in the world, with only about 20% of Czechs believing in God. According to Huckabee’s hypothesis, violence and murder rates should be much worse in the Czech Republic and much better in the Philippines.
Okay, that’s the setup. Having built up your excitement, the sociologist tells us what his science reveals:
But the reality is different: The murder rate in the Philippines is nearly 10 times higher than it is in the Czech Republic [Gasp!], according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Shocking! No doubt, the creationists have a good response, but we’re not told what that is. Meanwhile, the sociologist piles it on:
This same correlation holds true for nearly every country in the world: Those with the strongest rates of belief in God — such as El Salvador, Columbia, Honduras, Jamaica, and Yemen — tend to experience the most violence, while those with the lowest rates — such as Japan, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, New Zealand and Australia — tend to experience the lowest levels of violence.
Skipping several paragraphs, we’re told:
People’s relationship with the divine doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with it. Huckabee’s hypothesis needs to be rejected not only because it is statistically incorrect, but because it’s also inhumane [Huh?]: By blaming mass shootings on a lack of God-worship, he is implicitly asserting that the many victims of gun violence, well, deserved it.
And now we’ll skip to the end:
Faith in God will do nothing to end the epidemic of mass shootings in America, save perhaps to serve as a balm for the souls of the many Americans forced to weep at funerals for victims of gun violence.
Your Curmudgeon is confused. We hear one thing from creationists, and now we hear the opposite from a sociologist. What do you think, dear reader?
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