It seems that after just about every natural or manmade disaster, the Reverend Pat Robertson takes to his show, The 700 Club, to identify the culprit(s). Robertson went on television Monday to identify the evildoer in Sunday’s Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, which left six people dead:
Robertson has an illustrious history of absurd accusations in the wake of tragedy. Whereas most people would read about the Sikh temple or Dark Knight Rises shootings, and wonder if lax gun laws are to blame, or a lack of adequate mental health treatments, Robertson fingers cultural suspects who he says have drawn the ire of god.
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the good reverend was quick to blame the prevalence of voodoo in the country for the disaster.
When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was incapacitated by stroke in 2006, Robertson suggested it was god’s punishment for Sharon’s removal of Israelis from Gaza.
After Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 people on the Gulf coast, Robertson suggested it was god’s punishment for America’s allowance of abortion.
Most notably, in the days after the 9/11 attacks, Robertson heartily agreed with the mercifully now dead Reverend Jerry Falwell, who claimed,
“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’”
Sometimes, Robertson does not even wait for disaster to strike. In 2005, after the voters of Dover, Pennsylvania ousted all seven members of their school board who supported teaching “intelligent design,” Robertson declared on television, “I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.”
It would be a mistake to dismiss the ravings of Robertson as the unique idiosyncrasies of a demented octogenarian. In a post on its “Belief Blog” last year, CNN.com featured a piece with a most misleading headline: Poll: “Few Americans believe natural disasters are signs from God.”
How many is “few?” Five percent? Ten? Twenty?
“Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans (38%) believe that earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters are a sign from God, while roughly 3 in 10 believe that God sometimes punishes nations for the sins of some citizens, according to the survey.”
Thirty-Eight percent is no small number. That’s more than 100 million Americans who see the loving hand of god at work in these disasters. If they are right, it behooves us to ask why they continue worshipping a god who’s willing to kill scores of people to make a statement about abortion, voodoo, and the science curricula in public schools. Any god responsible for the disasters that these extremists say he is, is not only not a god worth praying to, but a god worth hating.