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Before I answer the above question, I must share my latest book presentation at a local school. Due to the weather, I arrived late but I was still welcomed by the Year 10 class. Normally, I would have done a longer introduction but fearing about time, I read the part of “He Was Weird” that I always read and the class wrote what they think would happen next. In most cases, many pupils write that Mark starts shooting although the degree of his spree always varies. However, this one boy wrote that instead of shooting people, Mark throws down his guns and rushes over to one of his bullies and they end up in a homo-erotic fashion. I praise this young lad for his great imagination and I managed to sell a book as well as have great feedback from the librarian, her assistant and two girls who had already read it.

Now onto the question.  This was something that I first heard brought up in a speech by former Dead Kennedys lead singer, songwriter and now political spokesman Jello Biafra. In that speech, he points out that when the Columbine shooting occurred, Littleton Colorado was considered a deeply religious community with 60% professing to be fundamentalist, evangelical Christian. While the law may have prevented religion being forced into the school, most of the student body had a moral Christian upbringing and therefore, should have been able to recite “Thou shalt not kill” by heart. However, there were two young boys who didn’t get that message or possibly, being teenagers, got fed up of having mom and dad’s religious views being forced down their throats. Either way, religion was no more influential in stopping the tragedy than Marilyn Manson was in causing it. I sincerely believe that hanging up the ten commandments in every classroom would not have prevented what happened.

Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra

If Mr Biafra was to read “He Was Weird” (and one day I hope he does) I think he would agree with some of the points I try to make in the book. Apart from the bullying and feeling a total failure in the eyes of everybody, the other contributing factor to his rampage is Mark feels that God has let him down. His prayers to have the bullying stop go unanswered and he truly feels that no one is listening to him or that God is actually giving him the courage to go through with it when he sites the verses in Deuteronomy Chapter 20. The result is the same. In his speech, Jello Biafra sums up perfectly how Mark is feeling that day. He feels that life is so bad and though he particularly doesn’t want to die, sees no point in living and knows who’s responsible for his rotten life. Therefore, if he’s got to die, he’s taking them with him.

There is also another aspect of religion following school shootings and is highlighted in the same speech and brought to life in my book. During the Columbine shooting, one girl was asked if she believed in Jesus and confirmed she did just before she was shot. The girl survived but two other sets of parents whose daughters didn’t went around huge religious revivals saying it was their daughter who said she believed in Jesus just before she was shot. The girl who it actually happened to decided not to use her story as a cash cow for God Incorporated.

That’s where the Cherisso family comes in on “He Was Weird.” A set of rosary beads are found by their daughter’s body and it is assumed they belong to her. Even when it is realised they don’t, it doesn’t stop the family going to similar revivals with those same beads and pimping their daughter’s tragic story. Readers have simply branded that family attention seekers who didn’t really care about their daughter.

I am not knocking religion here and I sincerely welcome anyone who professes to have genuine spiritual beliefs. My point here is that forcing religion in schools will not stop a school shooting. What might is keeping vigilant to young people who are alienated, harassed and bullied and then actually doing something to address those issues.

Next post: Take Karate

To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421353173&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird