Televangelist Pat Robertson’s demented claim that Haiti’s disastrous earthquake was the result of a pact the Haitian slaves signed with the devil to win their freedom has probably gained more converts to atheism and agnosticism than have the efforts of Dawkins, Hitchens and the rest of the “new atheists” vanguard together. In the midst of intense grieving for a nation in distress, where tens of thousands have perished or been left maimed, the United States and the rest of the global community reeled in disgust from Robertson’s callous declaration, while Christian leaders and other religious groups sought to distance themselves from his odious and “immoral” remarks in the face of the most massive human suffering and wreckage this hemisphere has seen for decades.
But Robertson is no neophyte when it comes to incurring wrath via controversial pronouncements of blame in the face of horrific disaster, and his most recent statements, though shocking, were not in the least surprising. Both himself and his peerless confederate/erstwhile segregationist, the late Jerry Falwell, blamed gays, feminists, abortionists and other scapegoat interest groups for the horrors of 9/11 and the calamity of the Katrina floods. Heartbreak and compassion turned to anger as the public strove to comprehend how those who claim Jesus of Nazareth as the centerpiece of their faith, could breathe such vile condemnations.
With Falwell nodding approvingly from above (or below, as some would prefer to believe), Pat Robertson has continued the tradition by blaming the earthquake on its victims, a people who have been literally “eating dirt” for sometime now. According to the televangelist, Haitian slaves, under the heel of the French, had “made a pact with the Devil” — true story, he claims — to gain their freedom from their masters. In other words, the Haitians were wrong in their efforts to liberate themselves, for since God’s answer to the practice of slavery was a resounding “Slaves, obey your masters”, the Haitians must have secured their deliverance from the arch-fiend himself.
But we don’t have to try too hard to make sense of Robertson’s propensity for irrational statements. It was he who from his bully pulpit at the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), had also called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, and suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. The religious broadcaster had also declared that feminism encourages women to “kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians,” and pronounced Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke as divine retribution for withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. There is absolutely no reason or logic in the mind of this Southern Baptist and believer in charismatic theology.
Though his most recent statements have ignited a global firestorm of criticism, Robertson has characteristically remained stubbornly unapologetic, creating the impression that his declarations were carefully premeditated. But what could he have hoped to gain from such a plan? Surely not an altar call, since from all reports he seemed to have had the opposite effect as the world glares angrily at him.
In an effort to deflect some of the heat directed at their leader, some very observant admirers of Robertson have pointed out a technicality; they claim that he did not actually attribute the earthquake to God, but that the devil had to be paid his due. What comfort for the suffering in Haiti, and what consolation to the rest of us to know that the devil has the same access as God in manipulating the weather to suit his agenda!
While on this note, it is most revealing that among the detailed prophecies and prescriptions for 2001 from the Almighty, sent through his messengers on the Lyston team of prophets and published in the Jamaica Gleaner, not a single mention was made of God’s intent to ‘lay His hand heavily’ on Haiti, as has been predicted for a few other luckless nations. A friend suggested that God usually gives forty days notice before He strikes, and since Haiti had no time to repent, God just didn’t bother to inform Lyston. It would be interesting to hear what those prophets have to say on this one, speaking for God as they usually do.
“Televangelist Pat Robertson’s demented claim that Haiti’s disastrous earthquake was the result of a pact the Haitian slaves signed with the devil to win their freedom has probably gained more converts to atheism and agnosticism than have the efforts of Dawkins, Hitchens and the rest of the ”new atheists” vanguard together” KP
Many oersons are so affected by their indwelt biases such that often the facts they hear or see are interpreted to support what they want to believe. Here is a classic example and let us see if a retraction will follow:
Statement Regarding Pat Robertson’s Comments on Haiti
CBN.com – VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., January 13, 2010 — On today’s The 700 Club, during a segment about the devastation, suffering and humanitarian effort that is needed in Haiti, Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti’s history. His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, 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. 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.
Spokesman for CBN
This is Wikipedia’s version of the history:
“In August 1791, Boukman presided in the role of houngan (priest) together with an African-born priestess and conducted a freedom ceremony at the Bois Caïman and prophesied that the slaves Jean François, Biassou, and Jeannot would be leaders of a resistance movement and revolt that would free the slaves of Saint-Domingue. A pig, which symbolized the wild, free, and untameable spiritual power of the forest and the ancestors, was sacrificed, an oath was taken, and Boukman and the priestess exhorted the listeners to take revenge against their French oppressors and “[c]ast aside the image of the God of the whites.”
Robertson’s intimate knowledge of the details concerning the dialogue between the devil and his Haitian co-signatories, as well as his smug parenthetical (“true story”), creates the impression that he had more than a passing glance at the events which foreshadowed the overthrow of the French slavemasters in 1797. It may appear that I apply too little gravity in my respnse to john anthony, but how can I be more than flippant about his defence of such a ludicrous statement made at such an inopportune moment?
Imagine if in the middle of Nazi persecution against European Jewry and their immense anguish, Robertson had publicly cited Matthew 27:25 which claims the Jews had followed their calls for Jesus’ crucifixion with their statement “His blood be upon us and our children”? It would smack of the same indelicacy and mean spiritedness. His team defense and press release notwithstanding, Pat Robertson’s statement was carefully crafted for the moment. He was just as insensitive while the world grieved after 9/11 and the Katrina floods.
john anthony needs to re-read the real history behind Haiti’s impoverished condition, which some conveniently prefer to dub a ‘curse’, as well as examine the extensive scientific data available on the web regarding the cause of earthquakes and other natural disasters. We should not be as caught up in the ignorance of primitive primates.
(“Many oersons [sic] are so affected by their indwelt biases such that often the facts they hear or see are interpreted to support what they want to believe”) Fitting statement for john anthony’s commitment to fundamentalism. Whatever form, shape or color it takes, he backs it up.