Reading Time: 3 minutes

Of all the explanations for why the shooter in Uvalde, Texas took the lives of more than 20 students and teachers, one of the laziest is also one of the most popular. Conservatives love to blame tragedies like this on godlessness. If only God were allowed in schools, nothing bad would ever happen.

It such a ludicrous thing to say that you might not believe anyone would still be that ignorant. But you haven’t met Arizona State Sen. Rick Gray, who blamed atheism for the shooting during a floor speech on Wednesday:

The real core issue—and I’ll be honest, this may be my bias, but this is how I see it—for decades, for decades, we’ve been teaching our children in school there is no God. You can’t pray. You can’t even pray on the field! There is no God. There are no absolutes. We live in a post-modern world, so whatever you think is right is right, and if somebody else has a different view, you’re still right. There are no absolutes.

That we’re animals. And we’re just animals. It’s survival of the fittest. But then we’re shocked when they act that out! But we say, “Don’t act that way!”

These kids—and it’s usually been kids that are shooting kids in school—what have they been taught?

Friends, we have a state religion in the United States of America, even though there’s supposed to be separation of church and state, there is a state religion. It’s Human Secularism, a.k.a. atheism.

Everything he just said is bullshit.

Public schools don’t teach students “there is no God.”

Students and teachers are allowed to pray. (They’re allowed to read the Bible too!)

Coaches can pray on the field, but not when they’re taxpayer-funded employees who are on the clock and creating a public spectacle that creates coercion for students to join in, as in the Bremerton case currently awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“Survival of the fittest” isn’t a justification to kill people. That’s not the correct interpretation of that phrase. Gray doesn’t understand how evolution works.

There is no state religion. It’s not “Human Secularism” (or, I assume, “Secular Humanism”) and it sure as hell isn’t atheism.

Atheists are just easy targets for conservative Christians who claim to be “pro-life” but do absolutely nothing of substance to protect children once they’re out of the womb. They offer thoughts and prayer (or claims to be “horrified and heartbroken”) because they know conservative Christians will never demand anything of substance from them.

None of these Republicans like Rick Gray, who are in positions of power, will ever consider gun safety because they Do. Not. Give. A. Shit. about children after birth. We see mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting and yet conservative lawmakers like Gray are too damn stupid to connect two dots. Or, even worse, he knows guns are the problem but doesn’t have the guts to admit it because it would cost him his power. He’d rather stay in office than protect kids.

To be honest, I don’t even mean to pick on this asshole because he’s not alone. Other Republicans blame the lack of forced Christianity in school every time there’s a shooting, and some did so this past week. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson blamed the shooting on the “secularization of society” and “loss of faith.” It’s the same ignorant idea.

They ignore the decades-long gap between the removal of mandatory Bible readings in public school (1963) and the beginning of the school shooting era (late 1990s).

They ignore how other countries in the world that have very little religion (and fully educate students about evolution) don’t have to deal with our levels of gun violence because their politicians don’t fetishize murder weapons the way our conservatives do. (Those countries are also happier, healthier, and safer.)

They ignore how shooters don’t scream “Charles Darwin” while running into a school, or are found carrying The God Delusion after the fact, or target Christians specifically.

They ignore how churches often perpetuate harm despite the belief in God. (Look no further than the Southern Baptist Convention, Catholic Church, and other predatory religious organizations.)

They even ignore how Texas requires all schools to put up “In God We Trust” signs. (It didn’t help. Shocking.)

Rick Gray ignores all this because both his faith and his politics demand that he put conspiracy theories before common sense. (What else would you expect from someone who got a degree in Biblical Studies from Grace University?)

As always, if you want to stop gun violence, do something about the guns. If you can’t do something about the guns, then do something about the Republicans who refuse to take action on guns.

The lack of God isn’t the problem here. God is nothing more than a useful distraction for conservatives who care more about guns than children.

Avatar photo

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.