The struggle to understand a tragedy, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, can make for strange bedfellows. In an odd moment, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seem to have (unintentionally) converged on similar conclusions about the event's cause: lack of religion.
It's not clear how direct of a line Huckabee wants to draw between Friday's shooting and an absence of religion in schools. But he drew wide criticism for possibly suggesting as much on Fox News recently. The full interview transcript can be found here, with the key quote below (emphasis added):
Well, you know it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our 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 don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police if they catch us but one day we stand before a holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.
Monday, Huckabee is apparently joined by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei. According to Digarban, an independent Web outlet that covers the Iranian media, one of Khamenei's official representatives announced that a "lack of religion in the United States is the main reason of the school shooting."
Khamenei often speaks through official representatives, though this one bears a title of "representative in the Caspian [region]," which does not suggest seniority. If the representative really was speaking for the supreme leader and not just taking a bit of creative license with his job title, then the statement was likely meant for domestic consumption, not as a slight on Americans.
Both Khamenei and Huckabee, of course, are attempting a larger point than simply blaming Sandy Hook's victims for the shooting. Huckabee explained in his Fox News interview, "Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end." And Khamenei (or his representative) was probably just using Sandy Hook to drive home the regime's oft-repeated message about the importance of religion in all things. Still, for all these two figures' differences in tone and perspective, it's a jarring moment of coincidence.