Yesterday Televangelist Pat Robertson took the time to say a thing or two about the island nation of Haiti which had just suffered a massive earthquake. Predictably, OUTRAGE!11!!!! was immediately broadcast and published from all sectors of society, including staffers at the “Historic” and “unprecedented” White House Administration of Barack Hussein Obama, who took the time from their busy schedules figuring out new and better ways to continue to attack private enterprise, figuring out how to accomplish more government intrusion into our private lives, and ignoring the Constitution to toss their Klown Kurrency into the Marketplace of Ideas and the bidding on Robertson’s comments. What did he say, exactly?
“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” he said on Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club.” “They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said, we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the Devil said, okay it’s a deal.”
“That island of Hispaniola is one island. It is cut down the middle; on the one side is Haiti on the other is the Dominican Republic,” he said. “Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now we are helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.”
I highlighted the last part, because that is the part that is conveniently forgotten by most of the hawkers of OUTRAGE!11!!!! who spent the day walking to and fro in the MarketPlace of Ideas selling their wares to any with ears to hear. And it was on display in all types in an appeal to sell to every buyer who wandered through. There were the outraged leftists (although that is generally a redundant term), non-Christians reading what they wanted into the comment and seeing yet another opportunity to question without a scintila of understanding, the joiners, who love a good gang-pile, and the opportunists, enjoying the chance to take scrutiny off of the dirty doings behind closed doors in the capital, and an economy owned lock, stock, and barrel by an inexperienced neophyte desperate to blame it on his predecessor. All utterly reject the idea that God might be involved in tragedy, or that evil exists and that man might actually suffer the consequences of embracing it. Surely anyone who thinks otherwise would be insane. And anyone who might dare to suggest it out loud is “stupid”, “Not Helpful”, or needs to “Shut the Hell Up”. While everyone was busy reading their own personal spins and inferences in to the part they chose to be offended by, they were concentrating just as hard on ignoring the rest, which is why truth was a casualty yesterday, not in the comment that launched a thousand responses, but in the responses themselves. This is why the rest bears repeating, especially for our liberal friends who are always claiming to have been taken out of context when they utter something exceedingly stupid and get called on it.
“They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now we are helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.”
Guess what? That wasn’t controversial at all. Christians believe in prayer. So did noteworthy Americans. Benjamin Franklin. George Washington. Abraham Lincoln. George S. Patton. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Harry S. Truman, just to name a few. And yes, the ministry which Pat Robertson is a prominent part of is helping in Haiti, and was doing so before this tragedy.
“We actually have a container, an Operation Blessing container, sitting at the port in Port-Au-Prince,” he told CBN News on Wednesday. “It was waiting to clear customs with $2 million worth of medicines that we were giving to Partners in Health.”
“Also, we have a four-wheel drive land cruiser that we were going to use for our company vehicle that has a winch on the front of it and armor-plating underneath it,” he continued. “It’s specially jacked up real high, so we can go through all the big potholes and so forth that are there anyway. But now, I’m not quite sure how we’re going to get around, but we’re on the job.”
Surprisingly, I did find one article that appeared to defend Pat Robertson’s statement.
Gary Cass, chairman and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, issued a statement saying that while Robertson’s comments made him an “easy target” for criticism, they are essentially theologically sound.
Is he right that Haitians made a deal with the Devil to cast off the French? I don’t know. Haitian history is not my strong suit. Heck, it isn’t even my weak suit. But do I think that is it possible that God punishes evil? As a Christian, I have to say “Yes.” Genesis 19 was pretty clear about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, and why he destroyed them. Do I think that God sicced an earthquake on Haiti? No, I don’t, if only because in the Bible, God left little doubt that he was showing his wrath, and it was clearly understood why he was wrathful. That message wouldn’t be coming to us only from the lips of Pat Robertson.
While I’m not of a mind to think that his statements are going to win converts to Christianity or be especially well received within the Church itself, I do think that he has the right idea about what to do about it. Pray and help, or in that ministry’s example, pray and continue to help. And while I don’t believe in trying to tailor Christianity to its intended audience, I do think that there is a place for being mindful of what you are saying. However, having watched the show a few times before, I am equally certain that a discussion about evil and God’s judgment of it could have been raised in a different way that might have made it harder to extrapolate the idea that the earthquake was God’s punishment for evil admitted in another century and perpetuated to this day. But he is also a man under a grave charge. If he believes what he said is true, then he should not be ashamed to say it. Nor should he believe that other Christians will simply accept it at face value. That is our faith’s charge to us: to continually test such statements against the Word, and if it is found lacking, to issue correction, in the spirit of love. I am not a full-blown Bible scholar, nor do I have a life-long believer’s understanding of the Bible. His statement clangs for me more than it rings true, but in the spirit of total honesty, I will have to discuss it with my learned pastor, go back and read the Word myself, study a few commentaries, consider and pray before I’ll be able to say with conviction that it is either he or I who still have much learning to do, though in my heart, I suspect that the answer is that we both do. Having said that, I don’t doubt that he is a man of faith with a heart for bringing people to Jesus. That is why that ministry was there trying to help before the earthquake, and will likely be there long after many of the other relief efforts have packed their kit bags and departed to the next tragedy, ready to save the bodies, and forgetting about the souls left behind.
CBN, the parent network for the 700 Club released a statement in the wake of the furor, which again highlights what was said rather than what was heard, and explained a bit more about Robertson’s understanding of the history he mentioned. In pertinent part:
“Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.”
This is just a guess, but I’ll bet that many of the OUTRAGED!!11!!1! weren’t doing as much before the disaster for the people of Haiti. I know I wasn’t. What do you say? Any takers?