Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In defense of Pat Robertson

(That's certainly not how I ever envisioned titling a blog post.) Anyway, the blogosphere is all a-twitter about Pat Robertson and his latest comments about the recent earthquake in Haiti and devil-worship. You've probably hear what he said, if not, it's at the link. I'm not going to summarize it here. Robertson was referring to the possibly-apocryphal Vodou ceremony in 1791 that kicked off the Haitian Revolution. Here's one description of it:

...the slaves held a large meeting to draw up a final plan for a general revolt.... Before they separated, they held amidst a violent rainstorm an impressive ceremony, so as to solemnize the undertakings they made. While the storm raged and lightning shot across the sky, a tall black woman appeared suddenly in the center of the gathering.... A black pig was then dragged in front of her and she split it open with her knife. The animal’s blood was collected in a wooden bowl and served still foaming to each delegate. At a signal from the priestess, they all threw themselves on their knees and swore blindly to obey the orders of Boukman, who had been proclaimed the supreme chief of the rebellion.

The blogosphere has erupted in condemnation of Robertson. Basically everyone (e.g. Al Sharpton) is calling him a horrible person and not a real Christian. There was this comment left on the Facebook status update of a former classmate of mine / now Presbyterian-minister:

(Aside: that's a tragic and horrible story, and I hope for the best.)

I can't help but be confused about the source of this outrage against Robertson, especially by people that claim to be Christians. Eight out of ten Americans believe in God. Roughly two-thirds believe in angels and the devil; I would assume a similar proportion believe in demons. Fully a third of American believe in witches. The Catholic Church has a category of priests that specialize in performing rituals to cast demonic spirits out of people. (The Church refuses to say how many exorcisms it performs each year.)

So why is it so hard to believe that a Haitian ritual that involved animal sacrifice and the drinking of blood wasn't demonic? If you want to believe in angels, there's a flip side to that coin, too.

All the people condemning Roberton seem to be of the mindset that God couldn't have been behind an even that has caused such suffering. Which makes me wonder: have these people even read the Bible? God sent a plague upon Egypt that killed the first born male child of every family in Egypt -- including the cattle -- so that Moses could lead the Jews out of Egypt into the wilderness. The number of people killed in the Haitian earthquake is probably a drop in the bucket compared to the number that died when God drowned every living person on Earth except for Noah's family. Turning to the New Testament, I'd like to point out that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, foretold in Revelation, are not named Kittens, Puppies, Flowers, and Candy. God is more than happy to slaughter people by the bucketload when it suits His mysterious ways.

Obviously, I'm not saying that the Haitian earthquake was a punishment from God. Angels were no more responsible for this earthquake than were the Aesir. Robertson's comments were heartless and cruel; the man's a pig, and I've been saying that for years. I'm just saying that there's nothing un-Christian about the notion that God sent a natural disaster to punish the wicked -- or even just innocent bystanders.

5 comments:

Glock21 said...

Well put.

Gryphon77 said...

actually that's a really good point.

do you mind if I share your blog on facebook?

Glock21 said...

I ended up referencing this in a comment on a recent blog post on smile politely on the same subject here: http://www.smilepolitely.com/opinion/bad_theology_is_like_bad_breath/

leowwaaa said...

But I thought that we had moved past just letting people die of diseases just because God sent them. Maybe God sent them but he also gave us the minds to design modern medicine and treat them, so why not everyone pitch in a fix the problems, not just let the poor earthquake stricken people die.

Narc said...

So all of the countless millions that died of now-curable bacterial infections were, what? Incentives to improve?