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By David Waters
Pat Robertson is at it again. The purported Christian minister who suggested assassinating Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez and nuking the U.S. State Department, the reputed follower of Jesus who blamed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina on pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, is now attributing the Haitian earthquake to Haiti’s “pact to the devil.”
“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about,” Robertson said Tuesday on his 700 Club show. “They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.”
One can only assume that Robertson is alluding to the fact that a majority of Haitians believe in and practice some forms of voodoo. Perhaps he’s also referring to the fact that Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Haiti. It’s also possible Robertson doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist and author of the book “Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite,” suggests that Robertson does indeed know what he’s talking about, and why: “Pat Robertson continues to distinguish himself as American evangelicalism’s most flamboyant spokesperson. When tragedies strike, people naturally ask questions about why bad things happen to the innocent, and millions of Americans see the hand of God or the devil at work in natural calamities,” Lindsay said. “But few religious leaders today draw the kinds of explicit connection as Pat Robertson has done with the Haitian earthquake. Robertson’s comments reflect as much his rhetorical flourish and skill as a ratings booster as they do his theology.”
Years ago I wrote a column saying that we should pay attention to the crazy things Robertson says because his thinking reflects the thinking of millions of fundamentalist Christians, many of whom support his multi-million-dollar “Christian” media empire and the political views he espouses. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the time has come to stop paying attention to Pat Robertson. Surely the time has come for Robertson to stop making such shameful comments. Considering the massive death, destruction and misery in Haiti, it is shameful for anyone — but especially a so-called minister of the gospel — to suggest that God or the poor people of Haiti had anything to do with it.
Do you agree?
UPDATE: In a statement on its Web site, the Christian Broadcasting Network said Robertson was speaking objectively about Haiti’s history that has led “countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed: “Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath,” the statement reads. “If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear.”