An Open Letter To Christians After The Arizona Shooting

We've all probably heard about the awful shooting in Arizona this past Saturday. My friend Edmund Metheny wrote an open letter to Christians and others in a note on Facebook. I liked it so much I asked him if I could share it with you and he agreed. So here it is, in its entirety:
To my Christian friends - and others

by Edmund Metheny

Since the shootings in Arizona, I have read numerous comments regarding the miraculous nature of the event. It was a "miracle" that Gabrielle Giffords survived, for example. I have read comments such as "God didn't do it, but he can turn a tragedy into a blessing if you just look, and take the time to see." I have even read comments to the effect that this evil only occurred because of a lack of faith in God.

I would like to provide you with an alternate viewpoint.

A miraculous event is not "a bunch of people got shot and some of them died and some of them lived." A miraculous event is "all the shooter's bullets turned into butterflies" or maybe "the shooter was struck dead by a bolt of lightning from a clear sky, just as he pulled the gun out" or "two she-bears appeared from nowhere and ripped the shooter to pieces." If the best that God can manage for a miracle in this case is six dead and fourteen injured, that is a weak-assed, pathetic loser miracle, and He should be ashamed.

What made this event less horrible than it might have been was not God - it was people. Heroic people who prevented the shooter from reloading. Heroic people who provided aid at the scene. Heroic people who worked tirelessly and quickly to give medical care to the injured. And it wasn't prayer that saved the injured. If prayer was going to do it, don't you think maybe someone could have done a bit more for Christina Taylor Green? Perhaps another verse of "Jesus loves the little children" might have done it?

Modern medicine saved the wounded. Modern medicine created by people, researched by people, developed by people. There is nothing in the Bible about how to treat a gunshot wound to the head. The procedure to do that came from people - people who tried and studied and got it wrong and tried again and got it better and will learn from this operation and others like it how to make it better still. People will create better procedures and better tools. People will learn more about the brain and how it operates. People. People.

Now really, I don't object to theistic beliefs. If you want to believe in God, then fine - believe in God. But this magical, mystical thinking has to stop. It just plain has to stop. It is egotistical and it is selfish and it is disrespectful - disrespectful to the dead to suggest that it was divine intervention which preserved those who were saved, disrespectful to the skill and dedication and bravery and intelligence of all those who acted to stop this horrible tragedy from becoming worse and who worked to aid those in need, disrespectful to those who were courageous to discount their bravery by suggesting that their morals and heroism were inspired by something outside of themselves, and disrespectful to a being you consider to be divine that He would do such an imperfect job of saving the innocent.

I know that not all of you follow this credo. I know that many of you understand your God in a different way than this, and do not see this tragedy in the manner I have decried. For you, I am thankful - thankful for thoughtful theists who are willing to accept the world as it is, not as some magical fantasy realm.

But for those of you who still insist on the existence of a magical sky god - all-knowing, loving, and both capable and willing to intervene in human affairs to put the face of Jesus on toast, make statues weep blood, or aid those in dire need of winning sports events, I have a question: what kind of God will put his face on an English muffin, but won't stop a bullet from hitting a child?


  1. Yeah, but the shooter was an atheist, so... we're going be hearing about that ad nauseum soon enough.

  2. The shooter appears to be a very sick individual. Nothing more, to it. I'm sure he never met Sarah Palin.

  3. Good grief. I better get ready for that onslaught of horrible arguments... I'm sure it will come.

    "Being [label] and doing something bad, is different from doing something bad because you're [label] or because your [label] tells you to do it."

    Okay, all ready. Grawr.

  4. Sigh, I have to agree, the shooter is just a psychopath/sociopath or mentally ill. Or maybe he has a tumor. It doesn't matter if he was an atheist.