Thursday, September 01, 2005

Call Me a Cynic

Last week, while I was looking up information on Pat Robertson after his infamous statements regarding Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (discussed here and here), I came upon this site of quotes attributed to right-wing leader (Warning: the site says right up front that it is run by an atheist, and so Christians should be aware that there may be an "anti-Christian" agenda there that goes beyond my own current "anti-Robertsonism"). A couple of quotes were particularly disturbing:

We have imagined ourselves invulnerable and have been consumed by the pursuit of ... health, wealth, material pleasures and sexuality... It is happening because God Almighty is lifting his protection from us.

-- Pat Robertson, oblivious to the statistical (and obvious) fact that no nation or group of people has ever enjoyed a higher degree of personal, political, or economic safety than the Americans enjoy today, Robertson engages the fearmongering typical of Christian preachers by blaming the Americans' lifestyles for bringing upon themselves the judgement of the God of Everlasting Mercy; this is Robertson's explanation of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in a three-page statement released Thursday, September 13, 2001, quoted from AANEWS #958 by American Atheists (September 14, 2001)


But I want to say as surely as I am sitting here today, this is only a foretaste, a little warning, of what is going to happen..

-- Pat Robertson, remarking on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, even after receiving a personal rebuke from the President, quoted from Dick Meyer, "Holy Smoke," CBS News (September 15, 2001)


I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you.

-- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club television program, August 6, 1998, on the occasion of the Orlando, Florida, Gay Pride Festival 1998

Now, to be fair to Robertson, he has not yet made any statements of this kind in regard to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. But given the reputation New Orleans has long had for "less than Christian" behaviors (especially as viewed by the Religious Right), I'm scared to death that I'm going to see such a comment in the near future. I'm scared that I'm going to see someone take the worst natural catastrophe in US history, and say "those sinners in New Orleans brought in upon themselves by disobeying God." This would be a horrible blight upon the reputation of Christianity. But, sadly, it would be entirely consistent with statements such as those Robertson has already made on other occasions.

Lest I be accused of sounding like I think God does not judge, let me say I don't think that at all. But it is irresponsible in the extreme to suggest that this kind of disaster is anything other than a horrible tragedy. To suggest that this disaster is God's judgment does a disservice to the thousands of innocents who have also had their lives destroyed in the past week, even if we somehow wanted to say that God had given up on the non-Christians who lived there, which is another statement I reject.

If anyone has cause to say anything about Christians during this time, let it be that we were among the first to give help where it was needed. That would be a far better testimony to the teachings of Christ than name-calling and blame-laying.

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