Christian Response to Pat Robertson

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

January 20, 2010

 

Fr. Peter Daly takes televangelist Pat Robertson to task for his comments about Haiti. 600 words.

 

            I burst into tears as I unfolded my newspaper.

            The earthquake in Haiti was on the front page. There was a heartbreaking photo of a little girl, in a plaid skirt, probably her school uniform. Her lifeless body lay crushed under the rubble of a collapsed building. She was pinned between fallen concrete and what looked like a school desk. Next to her was boy, digging his way out or the rubble with a piece of rebar. He had been trying to rescue someone else.

            These innocent children were victims of a horrible earthquake.

            Later that day, I heard televangelist Pat Robertson blame the Haitian people for their own suffering. They were not innocent victims in his mind, but heirs of a “pact with the devil.”

            On his CBN program, “The 700 Club” he said the earthquake in Haiti was the result of a “pact with the devil” that Haitians made to free themselves from French slavery more than 200 years ago. “True story,” said Robertson.

            Excuse me? What did he say? 

            How does he know such a thing?

            On what basis can he claim such an absurd statement to be “true”?

            This is not the first time that Robertson has blamed the victim. He blamed Hurricane Katrina on homosexuals in New Orleans.

            Pat Robertson gives Christians a bad name. He is to Christianity what the Taliban are to Islam. Both are foolish and cruel.

            Here is something that is true.

            Earthquakes are natural occurrences. They are the result of the movement of tectonic plates which make up the earth’s crust. Despite the language of insurance companies and lawyers, they are not “acts of God.” They are not a punishment from God directed at the victims. Neither are floods, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards.

            No natural phenomenon is a punishment from God directed at the victims. It is just the laws of nature. The people who suffer in such disasters are not morally worse than people who are spared disasters.

            If natural phenomenon like earthquakes were punishments from God, what would that say about God?

            Would such punishments be just? Would such a God be just?

            Could we love such a God?  Could we say that such a God is loving?

            Would such a God be worth worshiping?

            Would that be the God that Jesus taught us to call “Abba”, our father?

            Pat Robertson worships a God who inflicts suffering on innocent people. His God is not the loving father of Jesus. His God is a monster.

            Robertson’s statement reveals his ignorance and prejudice.

            He seems to favor the white slave owners over the black slaves. Whose side does Robertson think God should have been on? Did God favor the slave masters? Did God side with Pharaoh?

             The real pact with the devil was not made by the slaves who threw off injustice. It was made by their owners who dragged them to Haiti in chains.

            Robertson also reveals his religious ignorance.  Haiti is one of the most Christian nations on earth. Ninety-six percent identify themselves as Christians. Eighty percent are Catholics. Maybe Robertson does not consider Catholics to be Christians?

            Robertson even got facts wrong. He said the slaves rebelled against Napoleon III. Actually it was Napoleon Bonaparte, his great uncle. Haiti became independent of France in 1804. Napoleon III was not born until 1808. 

             Robertson’s statement was an affront to all real Christians.

            It was an affront to the God of Jesus.

            Most of all it was an affront to the innocent victims in Haiti like the little girl pictured on the front page of my newspaper. May she be welcomed into heaven by God who loves her!