Leading evangelical Christian minister Pat Robertson recently caused quite a stir with his comments about the recent tragedy in Haiti.
Throughout this week, people worldwide have showed their compassion, empathy and support for the people of Haiti. We have heard horror story after horror story and been deeply saddened by the unimaginable pain and suffering these fellow humans have experienced.To the average person, this is a truly horrific occurance that no one would wish on their worst enemy.
But to Pat Robertson, this is the act of - brace for it - a holy, perfect, loving and just God. Recently, he made comments basically arguing that the Haitians brought the Earthquake onto themselves. Why? Apparently, Robertson thinks that Haitians have made a pact with the devil.
Sadly, the voice of this nut-job (and I do mean nut job) still has immense power in the United States. Millions of evangelical christians turn into his shows for wisdom and insight, and a dose of the news (with a serious right wing slant).
So what makes Robertson think the way he does? Well, I have an idea or two. We know Robertson believes the Bible is 100% literally true. And we know that Robertson believes that anyone who doesn't believe what he does is going to Hell.
Once you hold those two positions, it sort of opens up a giant can of possibilities for what you can, in your own mind, endorse. Once a person can be justified to suffer in a pit of fire for ETERNITY, then an earthquake is probably not viewed with near the same level of tragedy.
For Robertson, God is saving Haitians from his worst punishment (Hell) by trying to send a warning sign to them via this earthquake. It is classic Old Testament, Biblical theology. The Old Testament God certainly isn't a hippie pacifist. He/She will lay the smack down on a country (heck, even his/her own followers) if they don't stay in line.
So while most of the world sees this earthquake for what it is - a tragedy of immense proportions - Robertson sees it as an act by God to save the Haitians from themselves and Hell. God just doesn't want a ton of his people to suffer in a pit of fire eternally. So God kills off a few in the meantime as collateral damage to save the masses.
Robertson is a nut job. And sadly, his remarks add pain to many Haitians who have enough Hell in their life right now on Earth.
The classic christian scholar C.S. Lewis writes extensively about how the ultimate human vice is pride and arrogance. It is people who are self-righteous and think they know everything that will be seperated from God in the next life. They won't be humble enough to accept that God has "taken in" many people they don't find deserving and that have different beliefs. This will be intolerable to them, so they will run off like a spoiled child whose mom suggests that he share his toy.
Robertson fits this to a "t." Just maybe, Lewis is right; many "drunks and prostitutes" are closer to God than many "self-righteous prigs" who attend church vehemently.
Just maybe, if Lewis is right, it could be Robertson in that pit of fire.
*1. to be fair to Christians, not all of them admire Robertson. Some pretty much loathe him (as one commenter pointed out).