Answering Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson’s “Haiti is cursed” rationale behind last week’s devastating earthquake set off a firestorm of indignation over his comments. Most of the indignation was from Christians reacting to Robertson’s misrepresentation of the mystery of why bad things happen. A lot of it, however, also came from cynics who’ll latch on to any ridiculous comment made by a Christian and apply it to the entire faith, not to mention its faithful.

In response, I’d like to bring up this article written by Most Rev. Thomas Wenski, Bishop of Orlando. I won’t post the entire article here, but here are the highlights:

When faced with our misfortunes, or the misfortunes of others, we can be tempted to ask ourselves: What did we (or they) do to deserve this? Once in His ministry, Jesus spoke of the Galileans whom Pilate had executed, as well as those killed when the tower of Siloam collapsed (Lk 13: 1-9). Jesus warns us not to see these events as somehow the wrath of an angry God. Evil came into the world not by God’s willing it, but through the devil and human sin. Jesus says in the Gospel: Don’t think that those Galileans were the biggest sinners around. Don’t think that those who died in the tower were guiltier than any one else.

But as followers of Jesus, we cannot rush to blame victims for the evil visited upon them — nor can we blame God, whom Scripture reveals as all loving and all merciful. That doesn’t mean we will come to an easy understanding of why bad things happen to good people; most times we will have to wait with the patience of a Job to learn the answers to those questions, which God will surely tell us — but not necessarily on this side of heaven.

Bishop Wenski’s response still leaves plenty of room for thoughtful discussion. After all, no one on this earth understands the mysteries of God. However, it makes the proper Christian response to this disaster perfectly clear.

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One Response

  1. Haiti is cursed in a way, though not in the way Roberton means. Haiti is cursed because, for a variety of reasons, it remains poor, and wealth is the best protection against disease and natural disasters. And because Haiti’s public culture is hopelessly corrupt (part of the curse) there is not much that outsiders can do to help, since most aid will be stolen or wasted. We can provide some medical and basic food assistance, which is much better than nothing, but that’s about all that we can do effectively. For Haiti to improve, the Haitians will have to organize to do it. I hope that it will happen but I’m not optimistic for the near future.

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