Stop Saying God Has Been Kicked Out of Schools

prayer God in schools

Like every other mass shooting before it, the one in Parkland, FL elicited theological questions about the effectiveness of prayer and the goodness of God.

In his essay “The Efficacy of Prayer” from The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, C.S. Lewis demonstrates the absurdity of trying to prove prayer “works.”

There are good, legitimate reasons for offering “thoughts and prayers.” And even from a secular perspective, prayers are as useful as all the tweets and words people offer in opposition to prayers.

But the deeper issue comes with attempting to answer how God can be good and evils, like school shootings, can exist. Philosophically, this has been called the “problem of evil” and responses that seek to defend God are called “theodicies.”

There are numerous ways to demonstrate how you can reconcile God’s goodness and the existence of evil, but not all of the attempts to defend God’s goodness are actually good themselves.

Take this meme that spreads among Christians after a tragedy in a school.

God not allowed in schools meme

It’s not a defense of God to say He couldn’t stop school violence because He’s not allowed in schools.

Yes, this “gets God off the hook” for shootings, but we end up with a God that bears no resemblance to the God of the Bible.

A god that is incapable of entering a school due to a government regulation is an impotent god without the ability to stop any evil, much less a school shooting.

Scripture speaks of a God that cannot be stopped by government authority. He freed his people from Egyptian slavery, conquered numerous Middle Eastern armies, and took over the entire Roman Empire.

In modern life, try telling the underground church in China that God is not with them because the government says He does not exist and cannot be worshipped in their country.

An edict that prevents school officials from leading in prayers has no power to stop the God who created the universe.

The meme is blatantly false, but it is also horrifically discomforting.

We are telling those who go through evil circumstances that God may not be with them depending on what the current government regulations may be.

There is no comfort from a god who cannot be with us in our most difficult moments. It’s a good thing that’s not the God we worship as Christians.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that from His birth Jesus would be known as “Immanuel” — God with us. The very identity of our Savior is wrapped up in His being present with us.

In fact, before He ascended to the Father, He assured us He would be with us always, to the end of the age. I don’t think he added an asterisk to offer the fine print: “Promise null and void if the United States Supreme Court rules state-sponsored prayer a violation of the Constitution.”

God was with those students in the midst of the gunfire to say otherwise is contradictory to all of Scripture and all we know God to be.

In trying to defend Him, we should never redefine Him. He cannot and will not be held back by school policies or government mandates. In that, be thankful.

7 Comments

  1. Sam Reply

    I find myself in the unusual position of both completely agreeing with you , and completely disagreeing with you, in equal measure. Yes, of course, theologically, the meme is absolutely false. It is unequivocally true that no one can shut God out of anything.

    BUT . . .

    This meme isn’t meant as a theological statement. It’s meant as a statement of irony. It’s a colorful way of saying to a culture, “You’ve fought for years to get God, Christianity, Faith, etc., out of the schools. So why are you complaining about him not being there now?”

    As a statement of theology, it is completely false. As a statement of irony intended to make a point, it is absolutely valid.

  2. Wendy Reply

    I agree with Sam on the meme, but I loved the article. Keep in writing. It is an inspiration and encouragement.

  3. John Gorman Reply

    I would agree with what you are saying from that perspective. However, it can also be looked at as – if God was allowed in school (teachings, signs, posters, and classes around C.S. Lewis and the very thing you do so well), maybe the person that did the shooting would have found him and this would have never happened. A class structured with the Watchful Dragons in mind would be fantastic.

    Aaron, the Wardrobe Door is excellent.. keep up the good work.

  4. Maria Reply

    Good question. As with most conversations… Stop and think through the different levels and nuances before responding. This meme isn’t meant as a theological statement. What are memes? What’s the purpose of a meme? I agree: In this example serves the purpose and meant as a statement of irony. It’s a colorful way of saying to a culture, “You’ve fought for years to get God, Christianity, Faith, etc., out of the schools. So why are you complaining about Him not being there now?” Consider LISTENING with the heart what to God is saying instead of what others say about God. Google 2 Chronicles 7:14 Read slowly, considering each word, search or define words not understood and LISTEN to what He is saying to you today. If you stand still long enough you just might hear something. Regardless of whether you hear something or not, go on and google “free will… God’s free will” You might learn something you didn’t know. Happy continued quest.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.