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You are here: Home >> Blog >> Marie Fortune's Blogs >> O God, Deliver Us from the Pat Robertsons of This World

O God, Deliver Us from the Pat Robertsons of This World

Feb 01, 2010 — Categories:

Much has already been said about the sheer stupidity of Pat Robertson’s “pastoral” response to the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake and I will not bother to repeat.

Much has already been said about the sheer stupidity of Pat Robertson’s “pastoral” response to the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake and I will not bother to repeat. I must say that my favorite response was the letter from “Satan” to Pat reminding him that actually those who make a pact with the devil are those who are well-off and privileged in this life. And just for the record, let me say that Pat Robertson does not represent a Christian response to this disaster.

Robertson “explains” the earthquake tragedy and a long history of oppression in Haiti as a result of the Haitian people making a pact with the devil centuries ago. The problem with Robertson’s smug, victim-blaming response is that he represents scores of others who, in struggling to comprehend a natural disaster, conclude that somehow the victims are deserving of it.

Whether it is Katrina, the tsunami, or the earthquake, we are all confounded by the meaning of these events, especially in theological terms. We call this the problem of theodicy: why do people suffer if God is a loving, all powerful God?

This question suggests that God can and does choose to send a natural disaster to a particular place. Actually, the natural world, although created by God, is way more complicated than that. Life is hard, arbitrary, unpredictable, and sometimes inexplicable. Jesus teaches that God sends rain on the just and the unjust along with his discussion of loving our enemies [Matthew 5:45] He doesn’t specify whether this happens in flood or drought. In other words, disasters happen. The question for us is, how do we respond as people of faith?

But then we must also look at unnatural disasters, those predicated by humans upon one another: the Holocaust, the genocide visited on indigenous people around the world, slavery, apartheid, rape, domestic violence, the sexual abuse of children. Again the easy way out is to blame the victims: something about them meant that they deserved what they got.

This relieves the rest of us bystanders from seeing it for what it really is, a sin against our fellow humans caused by our fellow humans. It also relieves us from having to do anything about it. This “passing by on the other side” is when we do make a pact with the devil to avert our eyes from the suffering of our neighbors.

Where suffering is a result of oppression and injustice, how do we try to interrupt this cycle? How do we stand with those who are victimized? How do we try to make justice and bring healing? Imperfect though it will be, how do we manifest God’s love and care for our neighbors?

The biggest danger in Robertson’s “theology” is that it suggests simplistic answers to very hard questions and walks away from any moral imperative to act. As people of faith, we can do better than this.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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