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September 01, 2005

Underestimating God

Man, Falwell must be pissed! Generally, the first post-tragedy faux-pas is reserved for him. Rumor has it that once the death toll reaches 100, he immediately retires to the study with a blood-filled chalice and a biography of Genghis Khan to craft his statement. Remember this post-9/11 gem?:

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. 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."

I love Robertson's response there: "Well, yeah" (think Pat! Falwell's gone mad, how do you calm this!?). Might as well be "Huh?". Takes quite a quote to leave Robertson speechless, but Falwell's a master. Unfortunately, he's getting slow in his old age. The flood should've been his moment -- this one was motherfucking biblical, yo! But this time, he got beat:

“Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city,” stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. “From ‘Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence’, New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same.”

Driving with the girlfriend today, I asked her who she thought would be the first to take the Sodom and Gomorra angle on this. Silly girl -- she thought no one. "Even they're not that bad." Oh but they are! This was inevitable, Noah groaned as soon as he flicked on K-HEVN's weather report; he knew the link would be made. What irritates me, though, isn't the allegory, it's the fallacy.

Louisiana has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation. Of the two red states in the top 10, they're one! They flash a lot of titty, sure, but they vote Republican and attend church, too. And a respect for marriage wasn't enough for them, they recently instituted Covenant Marriages; a marriage contract that requires counseling and a pledge and only allows divorce after a six-month trial separation or on biblical grounds. Tony Perkins wrote the law, folks! And if that weren't enough, they voted to ban gay marriages!

Sodom and Gomorra ain't what they used to be. And punishing New Orleans because college kids fly in to get drunk every once in awhile strikes me as smiting with a pretty large brush. I think God's more targeted than that. And speaking of targeted, why're we giving Mississippi the deluge? And what's up with San Francisco still standing?

It's not that theists are dumb, it's that some of them seem really selective with their evidence. Divine retribution is fine and well, but if we're going to slap its imprimatur on something it damn well better fit. AIDS? At the beginning, I can understand why some thought it was punishment, though taken in light of past plagues, it's certainly no sure thing, and once it jumped to heteros, that was pretty much the end of it. But the hurricane? America's got so many gayer places to smite! And who's getting killed? The poor, not the gays. Unless God hates poverty, I'm not seeing this one.

It's always struck me that the God of the wingnuts was a might inefficient character. If you were going to find his hand in things, you had to a) look really hard, b) squint, c) ignore a bunch of contrary evidence, d) accept that God works in ambiguous and cruel ways, e) squint harder, and d) get special 3D glasses. This flood is biblical in its power but indiscriminate in its aim. The Divine Being, if indeed one exists, surely works in more elegant ways.

September 1, 2005 in Religion | Permalink

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Comments

I guess it proves that the being directing the weather and the being directing evolution (ID) are two different beings. Another blow to monotheism.

Posted by: Bob Munck | Sep 1, 2005 12:33:18 AM

One thing on the long list of things that bug me about this sorts of attacks is the biblical illiteracy. God does the divine-retribution-through-natural-disaster thing twice in the Bible, once with Noah and once with Sodom and Gomorrah. Both times, however, he made a point to give advance warnings to his devout followers so they could spare themselves, and both times the destruction is total. 9/11 and Katrina fail on both counts. If Robertson, Falwell, Dobson, and Phelps (aka the Four Horsemen) truly have the ear of God in this, they would have been warned. Since they did not pass the word along, even to their followers, either a) these aren't cases of divine retribution b) they were, but the Four Horsemen are actually on the outs with God or c) they did get the word, but didn't pass it along, meaning they're traitors.

On the second point, if Katrina and 9/11 are our punishment for the gays, why are there still gay people? After all, one of the perks of omnipotence is you have really good aim.

Posted by: Greg | Sep 1, 2005 12:34:45 AM

Well, the weathermen knew. Maybe they're the new prophets?

Posted by: Ezra | Sep 1, 2005 12:35:42 AM

"It's always struck me that the God of the wingnuts was a might inefficient character."

This is a surprise, somehow? The wingnuts never get anything right - surely it should follow that their God would never get anything right, either.

"San Francisco filled with homos and secular humanists?

Then He that is Me must destroy New Orleans! It is the only way!"

Posted by: jkd | Sep 1, 2005 12:39:39 AM

Before you get carried away, card-carrying liberal RFK Jr. is claiming that Alabama was hit by the hurricane as divine retribution for a particular Bush official arguing against Kyoto.

I'm too tired to link, do a Technorati search and it should come up.

Posted by: Mastiff | Sep 1, 2005 12:43:59 AM

can't find it -- link?

Posted by: Ezra | Sep 1, 2005 12:59:10 AM

It's here,
on HuffPost:

"In 1998, Republican icon Pat Robertson warned that hurricanes were likely to hit communities that offended God. Perhaps it was Barbour’s memo that caused Katrina, at the last moment, to spare New Orleans and save its worst flailings for the Mississippi coast. [UPDATE: Alas, the reprieve for New Orleans was only temporary. But Haley Barbour still has much to answer for.]"

Dumb. If your point is that it's a bad idea to ignore science, it's a footshot to then say that it was Magic Sky Man all along...

Posted by: tatere | Sep 1, 2005 2:27:51 AM

Kennedy's final rhetorical flourish there is pretty reprehensible, though indicting Barbour for ignoring CO2 is really orders of magnitude less insane then saying God sent this hurricane to wipe out homosexuals.

Posted by: Ezra | Sep 1, 2005 2:58:48 AM

Unless God hates poverty, I'm not seeing this one.

Well, we all know that Santa Claus like rich kids better than poor ones, so I don't see why god would be any different.

Posted by: pansauce | Sep 1, 2005 3:13:32 AM

Those poor, poor people. Imagine feeling like you have to worship such a vengeful, spiteful, awful deity. No wonder they're so nucking futs.

Posted by: Jill Draper | Sep 1, 2005 4:04:00 AM

If you thought of them as simply nutz, you wouldn't be spending all of this effort to discredit them, you would simply ignore them as you would a schizophrenic. The simple truth is, you rail against and attempt to ridicule them because they stand in the way of the liberal agenda...and they are powerful.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 1, 2005 4:29:09 AM

"Well, the weathermen knew. Maybe they're the new prophets?"

But Ezra, ALL TV weathermen are gay! I'm not exaggerating. Every single last one of them. Last time I went to an NLGJA convention it was 75% weathermen and the rest regular journalists. In the world of TV news, weathermen are like hairdressers and florists in the rest of the culture. It's a thoroughly Gay- Ghettoized profession!

Don't tell Pat Robertson.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Sep 1, 2005 9:20:45 AM

OT:
Woke up this morning, tuned in GOOD MORNING AMERICA and saw a report that the looting was soooo....bad in New Orleans that the only functioning hospital required national guard outside armed with M-16s 24/7 to keep the looters from stealing everything in the hospital. I knew it was bad and they were stealing non-essentials but WOW! Can you imagine without this muscle these people would rampage through an occupied hospital robbing everyone in sight and ripping essential equipment out of their hands while threatening their lives??

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 1, 2005 9:31:02 AM

"The simple truth is, you rail against and attempt to ridicule them because they stand in the way of the liberal agenda...and they are powerful."

They implore God to strike me dead and meanwhile cooperate in the most open ways with the Republican Party to oppose the Progressive agenda. And they are unscientific buffoons besides.

Sounds like pretty good reasons for railing and ridicule to me. How else do you oppose the powerful? Issuing position papers at Think Tanks?

The people of Biloxi and Gulfport must be looking at each other and wondering why the total distruction of their towns was apparently Acceptable Collateral Damage in the Almighty's Desire to Punish New Orleans. Sending a two hundred mile storm to ravage the entire Bible Belt seems a little extreme when a medium sized asteroid would have done the trick in more targeted form.

Falwell and Robertson may not be actual nuts, particularly Pat. They are just willing to play religious wackos on TV because it allows them to acquire immense financial gain and political power. Don't matter either way, we're going to fight fire with fire, nonsense with sense, and superstition with science.

Posted by: Bruce Webb | Sep 1, 2005 9:37:33 AM

I have always taken that "liberal agenda" line as the ultimate conservative oxymoron. To be socially liberal is pretty much to accept people as they are. How dare liberals force the fact that we aren't trying to force change them, on conservatives. I guess it's that "do unto others" thing. They want to force everybody to be just like them, but they're mad because we won't treat them the same way.

Posted by: William Bollinger | Sep 1, 2005 10:45:47 AM

These people aren't even good christians -- they're just animists with a vengeful streak. They should all be sent off to read Matthew 5:44-5:48 (it's the part about how you're supposed to love even your enemies, because God sends rain upon the just and unjust alike).

Posted by: nolo | Sep 1, 2005 10:51:05 AM

Kennedy was not claiming divine retribution. He was using Robertson to show how Republicans craft policy from special interests who don't actually have the public's interest in mind (at least in his view.) Inciting Barbour’s influence is just a way to show that there are consequences for failing to properly heed warnings from the environment.

Ultimately, he's right. We should respect nature more than we do.

Posted by: Adrock | Sep 1, 2005 11:03:08 AM

From ‘Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence’, New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin.

He says that in such a negative way....

Posted by: Thlayli | Sep 1, 2005 11:06:12 AM

He says that in such a negative way....

Well, I guess if you are an atheist, there is no such thing as sin and the statement is not relevant. Perhaps he was speaking to the vast majority in the world that actually belive in a God and not the few who whine and pick at the rest of us....

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 1, 2005 11:16:06 AM

Fred. You should go read Matthew as well. And you should also pick up a sense of humor while you're at it.

Posted by: nolo | Sep 1, 2005 11:35:00 AM

the few who whine and pick at the rest of us....

Yes we pick on you, and you came here because God told you to.

Makes a lot of sense, folks.......

Posted by: The Dark Avenger | Sep 1, 2005 2:03:12 PM

Well, I guess if you are an atheist, there is no such thing as sin

Never been to 'Nawlings, but I have been to Vegas. What you would deem my experiences there as "sin," I would deem as one hell of a time!

Posted by: Adrock | Sep 1, 2005 3:58:55 PM

What you would deem my experiences there as "sin," I would deem as one hell of a time!

Of course you would. It is all a matter of perspective. No God=helluva good time. Pretty simple, eh? (the 'eh?" is just in case you are Canadian)

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 1, 2005 4:57:15 PM

In passing, I have to ask if our President has seen fit to blame God for the thousands of dead innocents, the loss of property that made millions homeless, the displacement and separation of families, the destruction of fine buildings and the general damage to our way of life – which took place and continues to take place despite his assurance that he’d prayed to God – begged for mercy – about the situation. One Reverend on TV thanked God for diverting Katrina slightly east so that New Orleans didn’t receive it directly; what it did to Mississippi as a result of that divine response, wasn’t mentioned. The governor of Louisiana declared a Day of Prayer, with no noticeable effect. Red Cross

I suggest that we might want to depose this incumbent God and start dealing with The Real World. He’s proven – time and again – to be cruel, capricious, and vindictive. He drowns, crushes, burns, and starves millions of us every day. He created cancer, viruses, and germs to invade and destroy our bodies as He sees fit, and uses them very effectively. In His wisdom, He directed those in charge to impede stem cell research so that such a powerful approach would not be available to us and He wouldn’t have to strain the Divine Intellect to disarm that defense. We amuse Him as we flail about vainly trying to appease Him. I vote that we dump Him.

Back in The Real World, we can all do something to help. The JREF has donated $1,000 to the Red Cross for relief of the Katrina victims, as has at least one of the JREF associates, personally. Will you join us in helping the effort? Any amount is welcome. Telephone access to loved ones, a case of drinking water, other basic food needs, sanitary supplies, medical tools, a few blankets – all of these items can and will bring some comfort and hope to those who may literally die if they’re not reached in time. Please join us in doing something positive for our fellow humans.

Link

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