Reasons given for the 2005 tragedy by religious conservatives (Cont'd):
The Rev. Jerry Falwell was silent this time. About four years
earlier, on 2001-SEP-13 during Robertson's "700 Club" TV
program, Falwell blamed the 9-11 New York City and
Pentagon terrorist attacks on the American Civil
Liberties Union, abortion providers, Pagans,
feminists, gays and the lesbians,
and the People For the American Way. [The latter is a liberal group
promoting the separation of church and state]. Robertson responded: "Well, I totally concur..."
[It is not clear whether Falwell intended "Pagans" to refer to Neopagans, or to one of the other six unrelated groups sometimes referred to as
Pagans; the term is often a universal "snarl" word among religious
conservatives]. Falwell's statement was repudiated by the White House, and
he later apologized. He might well hold the same conclusions concerning
hurricane Katrina, but has apparently not made them public.
The Rev. Pat Robertson also held God resonsible for the Katrina hurricane. Megan Friedman writing for Time Magazine, wrote:
"On The 700 Club in 2005, Robertson blamed Hurricane Katrina on the issue of abortion in John Roberts' Supreme Court nomination." 11
Robert Knight, director of Concerned
Women for America's Culture and Family Institute -- a conservative
Christian group -- was reluctant to attribute hurricane Katrina to God's
wrath. He said:
"It's a very risky business ascribing divine intent to
natural disasters. Nobody but God really knows why these things occur." 1
The Rev. Alex McFarland, director of teen apologetics for Focus on the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian group, discussed the
theological concept of theodicy: why doesn't a
good God prevent evil and suffering by innocent people? He said that:
"When someone asks 'Why do innocent people suffer?' I will gently
remind them that we are not really innocent. God did create a perfect
world. But we humans introduced moral evil, sin, rebellion and
disobedience. And after God judged human sin in Noah's flood, the
weather patterns that we know today developed....
Christian, I would say that God didn't cause this but God did allow it,
and we believe that God will bring a greater good out of this. For God's
love, power and wisdom to remain uncompromised, he will have to bring
more good than pain from it, ultimately."
Some Internet surfers who read Deborah
Caldwell's essay on Beliefnet.com titled "Did God send the hurricane?" responded with their personal
beliefs about why Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. 6 We
have selected the following ten messages that were apparently posted by
conservative Christians as typical:
"God sent this Hurricane to wake up the Ungodly people and tell them
that you can't mess with him." [This posting identified "ungodly people"
as followers of Voodoo, Witchcraft, as well as homosexuals and abortion providers.
"I think the Anti Christ is loose and on the run. Our Bible tells us
"Satan, as 'the prince of the power of the air,' (Ephesians. 2:2)
controls the weather, since, after his expulsion from Heaven, he became
'the god of this world' (2 Corinthians 4:4)."
"The reason for the hurricane is not only the gambling in New
Orleans--a once very Godly community--but also for the U.S.'s weakening
support for Israel and the expulsion of Jews from Gaza."
"God has blessed this nation without measure, and we have thrown Him
out of our schools, courts and society. If He looks away or fails to
exercise His protection over us, or, in the extreme, sends judgment,
then I would ask why any reasonable person would expect His mercy at
"This hurricane is biblical as far as I am concerned and you are
going to see a lot more natural disasters... America is going to see a
lot more. America has tuned God out of the picture... too bad too....our
only salvation is Him... there is a lot more to come... this is just the
beginning. Read the bible...learn the truth. We are all going to need
"Calamities and natural disaster are Gods attention getters. After
so long mocking God on Beliefnet.com, after
rejecting Christ, bashing Christians, sinning more and more, hardening
your hearts more and more, mans heart and mind grows quite callous. So
to uncallous the heart and open the ears, God removes the comfort and
pleasures of life."
"Wouldn't it be interesting if this actually is the time of
tribulation and the rapture has already happened, but so few people were
worthy to ascend into heaven that we didn't even notice."
"We are living in end time Bible prophecy and we will see more
extremes of nature in that regard. In fact, the peoples of the world
will be tested greatly over the ensuing days and only by their faith
will they endure to the end."
"Just another sign of the end times. Bible Prophecy being fulfilled
hoping people will get the message. Remember Nineveh? How God's wrath of
punishment came to it. Seems God is trying to get people's attention.
Wake them up. The hour is drawing nigh. I am looking for the rapture in my life time and I am 63 years old.
Yes. It is that near!"
Hungry Heart Ministries has a page on their website which deals
with Katrina. They note that Katrina formed on the day that the expulsion of
Jews from Gaza was complete, and made landfall two days later. Their website
contains a prayer which attributes the hurricane to God's curse on America.
It says, in part:
"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we
rebelled against him;
Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to walk in his
Therefore the curse is poured upon us.....because we have sinned
And he has confirmed his words...by bringing upon us a great
Yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might
turn from our iniquities and understand thy truth.
Therefore has the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon
us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he
does; for we obeyed not his voice." 7
Qeren, the royalist movement in Israel, advocates changing Israel
from a democracy to a kingdom. They conducted a poll to sample their
visitors' beliefs about whether the hurricane Katrina was linked in some
way with the Israeli pullout from Gaza. 34% believe that Katrina was "tied
to the pullout from Gaza;" 13% believe that they may be linked; 16%
don't think so; 37% are certain that they are not linked.
David Haggith, author of End-Time Prophecies of the Bible write
in an Email:
"Would a God who is professed to be both just and loving,
merciful and vengeful, have to resort to widespread, random killing
if he wanted to change U.S. policy? This storm has most likely ended
the lives of hundreds of Christians who lived in New Orleans
who had no prophetic warning that they should flee New Orleans.
...The U.S. has a president who claims to be more than willing to
hear God and who prays daily to receive guidance from God. Does God
have to kill all of these innocent people along with the
not-so-innocent just to get a message through to a president who
already craves the Lord's guidance? What kind of a God is that,
which some people are so willing to put forward, who is unable to
communicate to one who wants to listen, so he has to
kill many? Whatever happened to God's ability to raise prophets before the big event to warn world leaders directly? Even the
godly King David had his prophet Nathan to correct him when he was
on the wrong track....The image of God as one who speaks through the storm, not ahead of it, is one fomented by some Fundamentalist
Christians today. Do they care that this view presents God as the
ultimate terrorist -- a fact to which they seem to be oblivious. It
presents a God who does not love enough or have enough compassion to
simply speak directly to the president of the United States through
someone the president can trust in order to spare such huge
devastation -- if God even wants to change U.S. policy in Israel.
The God of some Fundamentalists, be they Islamic or Christian, is so
anxious to judge that he gives no clear warning. He sends
only prophets who vaguely pronounce some general impending judgment
upon the Great Satan, the United States of America. Both Christian
and Fundamentalist and Islamic Fundamentalists see the U.S. in this
same light. But their vague pronouncements of impending judgment are
like saying, 'it's going to rain' without a time-table. When it
eventually rains, they say, 'See, we warned you'."
A progressive Christian responded to the "God is responsible for natural disasters" viewpoint of many conservative Christians:
John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal bishop, responded to a question from a
TV producer at Fox News. The Rev. Pat Robertson had suggested that God might
send a natural disaster to disrupt the lives of the citizens of Dover, PA. Their
"sin" was to defeat in the 2005-NOV elections all of the members of their local
school board who had earlier voted in favor of teaching intelligent
John Spong replied:
"Pat Robertson has said so many silly and ridiculous things that I wonder
why anyone would pay much attention to him on any subject. He warned
Orlando, Florida, that God would send a hurricane to destroy them when
Orlando's decision makers added "sexual orientation" to that city's
civil rights ordinance.....He has said that the feminist movement is about
those women who want to "leave their husbands, kill their children,
practice witchcraft and become lesbians." The tirade of absurdities goes
on and on.
This country treasures the precious gift of free speech and Pat Robertson
can obviously say any foolish and ignorant thing he wishes. When he pretends
to speak in the name of God, however, I think his fellow believers have a
right, indeed a necessity, to speak a word of judgment on his behavior since
his words slander the Christian definition of God as Love given to us first
by the author of the First Epistle of John and even more important, lived
out by Jesus, who called us even to love our enemies."
"... I wonder who, other than Pat himself, designated Pat Robertson to be
God's spokesperson? How dare Pat assume that the God revealed in the Jesus I
serve is filled with all of Pat's peculiar prejudices......Pat needs to
understand that he is acting out the very meaning of idolatry. He has
confused God with himself."
"...some one needs to inform Pat Robertson that the idea of God sitting on a
throne above the clouds manipulating the weather in order to punish sinners
is so primitive and so naïve that it is staggering to the educated
imagination.....No educated person today believes that the earth is the
center of the universe and that God lives above the sky, playing with
low-pressure systems and planning revenge on those who are not believers in
Intelligent Design. Indeed why would anyone be drawn to the demonic deity
who emerges in Pat's thinking and teaching? .....Those ideas are so
ludicrous as to be laughable, except for the fact that for anyone to suggest
such incredible things is still painfully hurtful to those who are the
victims of both natural and human disasters to say nothing of their
surviving loved ones. I, as a Christian, am embarrassed by the public face
that Pat Robertson puts on the religious tradition to which my life is
"No one takes his thought seriously. It is a pity that some people do
actually believe the things he says, but they are far fewer than he
imagines. It is an even greater pity that the news media think that his
continued utterances are worthy of any public attention at all." 10
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Manuel Roig-Franzia and Spencer Hsu, "White House shifts blame for Katrina response. Administration, embattled FEMA chief
point to state, local officials," The Washington Post, 2005-SEP-04, at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/
Deborah Caldwell, "Did God
Send the Hurricane? This natural disaster is bringing together a perfect storm
of environmentalist and religious doomsday sayers," Beliefnet, circa
2005-SEP-03, at: http://www.beliefnet.com/
"Bishop Spong Q&A on Pat Robertson," Weekly newsletter for
2005-NOV-16. Signup at: http://secure.agoramedia.com/ We have edited his answer in order to
prune it below the 500 word limit which is allowed under copyright law.