I keep thinking that I am glad Pat Robertson is quiet, or has been quiet, as part of the country has been ravaged by tornadoes, and now, by floods.
The good reverend has a way of telling the world why certain events have happened. If you recall, he said that the earthquake in Haiti (those people made a pact with the devil, he said)and the hurricane called Katrina that hit Louisiana and Mississippi, were acts of God, punishing those people for their past indiscretions and sins, sins which, by the way, Mr. Robertson declared.
Robertson isn’t the only one who in our history has blamed innocent people for “the sins of the fathers.” He and the late Rev Jerry Falwell blamed “pagans, abortionists, feminists” and others for the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. He and other religious leaders said that the outbreak of HIV/AIDS was God’s punishment for gay people. And, exhaustively, so on …
But Mr. Robertson has been quiet in light of the tornadoes and now the floods in the South. Why whatever for? Who is being punished now? I have not seen any divine pronouncements of judgment and blame from the good reverend. More importantly, however, I haven’t heard any such ignorant and insensitive pronouncements from other people.
It has to be a sin to blame victims for their situations, and to do so, using God as the justification for the pronouncements is heretical. The portrayal of God has been carefully created and that image protected by those who have a vested interest in making sure God is on “their side.” This practice seems to me to expose a complete lack of understanding of God as an entity who loves all and forgives all of His or Her children.
What bothers me about Robertson’s pronouncements is an underlying thread of racism, sexism, and homophobia. There is no consistency to his pronouncements. If God is against evil, and punishes whole communities for the sins of generations past, then why hasn’t Robertson suggested that HIV/AIDS, or the flooding or the tornadoes and hurricanes that have hit the South is God’s punishment for slavery and racism? Robertson and others have a comfortable image of God as a white, male Protestant. His perception of God excludes or omits the notion of God’s omnipotence, that is, God’s power to create all kinds of people. Robertson’s practices also present a God who is selectively punitive. And Robertson’s words suggest that he, not God, has decided which sins are punishable by mass tragedy and which are not. Could it really be that this God would punish the people in Haiti and not the Germans whose leader led the greatest mass murder movement in the world? And seriously, would this God punish gay people with a horrid disease called HIV/AIDS (and heterosexual people as well!) and not punish English people who intentionally gave blankets infested with smallpox to American Indians, causing them to die en masse? Whose God is that, Mr. Robertson? Oh, I know. It’s your God. It’s the God you protect and lift up to defend your “isms.” Is God really just on the side of rich, white, straight Protestant men? And, as statistics show that it is African American heterosexual women who are contracting HIV/AIDS faster and more than any other group of people, what might be their sin?
I am just grateful that I have not heard any such ignorant and insensitive rantings. No matter how horrible certain people may have been, God does not punish innocent people in support of a particular ideology masked as theology. Not my God. Not…my God.
That is a candid observation.