How ‘Nature’s fury’ replaced God’s fury
Evangelist Pat Robertson’s real mistake was to describe the calamity in Haiti as God’s work rather than Gaia’s work.
Pat Robertson, the US Christian evangelist who seeks headlines the way missiles seek heat, has understandably caused outrage with his craven comments on the earthquake in Haiti. That calamity is payback from God, he says, for Haitians who made ‘a pact with the devil’ by allegedly embracing voodoo over Jesus Christ.
Yet the real reason Robertson’s comments are shocking is not because he has misanthropically moralised a natural disaster as punishment for people’s sinful behaviour, but because he has done so in the name of God rather than Gaia. These days it is not acceptable to present terrible acts of nature as manifestations of God’s divine fury, but it is de rigueur to depict them as some kind of climatic payback for our greed and addiction to consumerism.
In keeping with his Good Book – in which ‘The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth’ and so decided to send floods to punish us – Robertson says that Haiti has been ‘cursed’ for its rejection of Christian values, with poverty, political instability and now a calamitous earthquake (1). This follows his even wackier comments on Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, which he said was heavenly punishment for legal abortion in the US.
Many are slating his stupidity and backwardness. Yet his real mistake, it seems, was to deploy religious language, rather than pseudo-scientific language, to make his poisonous point. Because today, moralising natural disasters, personifying them, imbuing them with sentience and purpose and vengeance, is a popular pursuit amongst secularists, commentators and climate-change alarmists, for whom everything from flooding to almighty gusts of wind reveals the ‘connections between our unsustainable lifestyles and climate change’ (2).
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