“How could God let this happen?” That was the question asked of the former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, by Fox News host Neil Cavuto in an interview following the horrific slaughter of innocent school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, replied:
"We ask why there’s violence in the schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we do not want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us, but we stand one day before a holy God in judgment."
The governor is no doubt correct that transgressions against justice do not occur in a vacuum. For what a person is taught about the good, the true, and the beautiful – which depends on the health of the cultural institutions committed to transmitting those beliefs – often strongly influences the development of a person’s character and virtue.
It is, of course, far from a sure thing. After all, Judas Iscariot was tutored by the finest teacher the world has ever known, and yet he committed the most infamous act of betrayal in human history. Bad character remains a mystery even in the most idyllic of circumstances.
The question that Huckabee was asked, however, was about the absence of divine action in an event in which everyone wishes that God had intervened. For that reason, his answer was not to the point.