There's a thesis that's popular with people who value reason over bronze age superstition, a formula known as the "Argument from Evil" whose aim is to call into question one of the central tenets of Christianity. It goes something like this: God cannot be both omnipotent and benevolent, as his believers typically claim, given that evil can be found in the world in abundance, for if evil exists then God is either unwilling or unable to stop it. He can't, meaning he isn't omnipotent, or he won't, meaning he isn't benevolent. The philosophical discipline Theodicy is dedicated to answering this paradox but the truth is that it pretty much can't. Maybe trying to apply logic to something like faith is a fool's errand given that faith by its very nature defies logic, but the logic in the Argument from Evil is rock-solid. The only way around it is to claim that God isn't really all that benevolent -- which is exactly what assholes like radio host and former American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer are more than happy to do.
On Monday, Fischer took to the airwaves to once again prove that there's seriously no depth to which far-right zealots won't sink to make a partisan point against their sworn enemies, those godless libs. By now you're probably well aware that in the collective mind of the conservative fringe, it's never bad policy, worse action or 10th grade-level science that bears direct responsibility for terrible things happening to good people, it's simply the wrath of an angry God. It wasn't nature -- or perhaps the crisis of man-made climate change -- that brought Katrina to the shores of the Gulf Coast, it was a gay pride event being held in New Orleans around that time. Likewise it wasn't just 19 fanatics armed with box cutters who brought down the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon and Flight 93 on 9/11, it was also feminists, abortion doctors and the ACLU. Whenever anything awful happens anywhere in the U.S., you can always count on some indignant dickhead to shriek about how God had either passively removed his hand of protection from his children or actively bent them over his ethereal knee and smacked the crap out of their behinds.
And so in this latest example of that sort of thing, Fischer on Monday invoked one of the darkest and most tragic events this country has ever seen: the Sandy Hook massacre. According to Fischer, the reason God just stepped aside and let 20 innocent children die at Sandy Hook was that he simply wasn't inclined to help them out given what a lousy country we've become. "An incident like the killing in Sandy Hook, the cold-blooded killing of those children in their first grade classrooms, how does that happen?” Fischer says. “Why does God permit that? Why doesn’t God intervene?” Fischer's answer: because God is a petty, vindictive prick who needs constant reassurance or he slaughters children. Well, maybe not those exact words, but close enough: “because our sins as a nation have driven God from us," Fischer says. Think about that for a minute. The god worshiped by ghouls like Bryan Fischer looks on silently while a bunch of six-year-olds cower in terror and are ultimately gunned down, all because the country as a whole deserves to be taught an object lesson about the penalty for defying him.
If you think that's grotesque and that it strains logic, try this one on for size. Fischer continues, "As we lift our hands in prayer as a nation, what (God) sees is the blood on our hands of the 57 million unborn babies whose lives have been taken through abortion... He can’t hear our prayers over the pleas of the blood of the unborn." Just for the hell of it, let's unpack Fischer's claim here because it speaks to a popular criticism of today's conservatives: They seem to only care about children before they're born; once they're out of the womb, they're on their own. Apparently their god feels the same way because according to Fischer he'll kill 20 who've managed to make it out into the world just to make a statement about protecting ones who haven't even been born yet. Killing children to save children -- only in the lima bean brain of someone like Bryan Fischer would that ever compute. Also, if God can't hear our prayers over the "pleas of the blood of the unborn," again, doesn't that mean he's not really omnipotent? You'd figure his divine hearing would be pretty powerful. If he can't hear our silent entreaties because they're being drowned out by fetus blood that as far as we know has no voice whatsoever -- I mean, come on.
This isn't the first time Fischer has used Sandy Hook -- an event so heartbreaking it should be off-limits to political and cultural opportunists for the next hundred years -- to claim a scalp for Jesus. To close out his fire-and-brimstone sermon on Monday he reminded listeners that he said, in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, “We have spent the last 60 years in our culture telling God to get lost and we wonder why He’s not around when we need him? God’s a gentleman, he will not go where he’s not wanted." Yes, God, the guy who lets children be murdered because he's unhappy, is a gentleman. That's exactly the word I'd use. Not that it matters what I or anyone else calls God or what gargantuan leaps of logic it requires to make sense of all of Fischer's ravings or the questions of God's goodness or evil. The reality is that none of that matters one bit. That's because God -- at least the god worshiped and championed by the likes of an asshole like Bryan Fischer -- doesn't exist anyway. Which is a good thing since apparently Fischer also thinks that immigration and a "confusion of languages" is another of his recent punishments.