(I do not know what “right-wing watch” is and thereby do not endorse the contents of their site or their message, I am just happy they posted this video)
As storms raged throughout the Mid-West, people were hunkering down for the ‘ride of their life’; families huddled in basements and closets holding on to each other and more than likely hoping and praying to God that they would come away from this storm unscathed. In the end, 40+ people lost their life due the tornadoes and hundreds if not thousands of people lost their homes, belongings, possessions, their sense of security. People across many states at this very hour are picking up the pieces, they are trying to mind back together some sort of meaning and normality.
In any major event be it the Tsunami in Japan (which is coming up on its one year anniversary), the earthquake in Haiti or last year’s tornadoes that ravished Joplin, MO and parts of Alabama, it is easy to question, ‘why did this happen? why did God allow such a thing to take place?’ I almost guarantee that there are 10s if not 100s more questions that could be asked to God…
Enter, Stage Right, Pat Robertson and The 700 Club.
Pat Robertson has had his fair share of mis-speaks and fair share of sharing a message that make some other followers of Christ cringe. I have heard his clips and excerpts on YouTube and around the media outlets, but this one for me was too far. You can watch the video and see for yourself.
I have a few issues with Robertson’s message:
- He blames the victim– He first says that God has created the world in such a way that it is practically inevitable that tornadoes are going to happen. Next, he says that is part of God’s design and that is how heat is re-circulated around the world. But then he gets to his message which is two-fold, people shouldn’t build houses in areas that have tornadoes and if you do you better make sure people are praying for you (and a lot of them) because God’s didn’t stop the storm because not enough people weren’t praying.
- Double Speak– is it God as the Watch Maker, where God sets up the world and doesn’t interfere and humanity is left up to its own devices or is God actively present in the world but chooses at times not to intervene?
- How does this answer help those effected by the storm?– Are you saying Mr. Robertson that the people of the Mid-West are stupid for having their homes, raising their families, having their jobs in area in which tornadoes might (or might not) happen? And because of this stupid move they did not have enough faith or enough faithful people did not pray in unison? Where is the message of love or the compassion? To return to an old and yet cliché phrase, is this the answer Jesus would have given? Instead of boldly proclaiming that God did not send the storm or blame the victim, how much more would your audience (and other fellow followers of Christ) love to hear you proclaim that you do not know. While it is hard to hear or even harder to say, the fact still remains we do not know.
I wish there was an answer and if there was I am not sure it would be adequate enough for those who lost family members and their entire home. What I do know is that Christ has called all of his followers to emulate his compassion for the those hurting and in need. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25?
“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”– Matthew 25:34b-40 (NRSV)
No judgment, no blaming the victim, just good and simple service to others and when we do, we are serving Christ. Therefore it is the opinion of this minister, that Mr. Robertson has missed the point in this situation. Jesus calls us to love in all circumstances, not because we have to but because it reflects the character of God.
I do not believe that God was absent from this tragedy, rather God is present now and forevermore and we are called to witness to that love to bring a sense of comfort where possible to the hurting and lost.