ince Haiti's devastating earthquake two weeks ago, believers have gathered outside the piles of rubble that used to be their churches to ask God for deliverance from their suffering. Every night, the sound of prayers, sung by people left homeless, has filled the air amid the ruins of Port-au-Prince. Some of the faithful see God's hand in rescues and in the Haitian people's resilience, while others—and many nonbelievers—ask: If God exists, how could He have let such a calamity occur?
Christians should stop making excuses for their God: Theologians and clergymen were quick to berate televangelist Pat Robertson for suggesting that Haitians "were paying for a pact with the devil" that ended slavery, says Richard Dawkins in The Washington Post. But it's the "obnoxious" Robertson who's being "the true Christian here." The entire Christian theology—remember Noah's flood?—"is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for 'sin'—or suffering as 'atonement' for it."
"Haiti and the hypocrisy of Christian theology"
Atheists are missing the point: Every time disaster strikes, "God becomes the target of every atheist," says Raulston Nembhard in Jamaica Observer. And their argument—if God were all-powerful he wouldn't let such things happen—suggests that God "must show up in every event in our lives" to prove he exists. But that's ludicrous. We have no way of knowing, for example, how many times God has indeed intervened to spare the Haitian people from an earthquake—all we know is that this time he didn't.
"God and the Haitian tragedy"
What matters is that God is with Haitians now: Christians are now asking the "age-old question: if God is all-good and all-powerful, why the hurricane? The earthquake? The slaughter of innocents?" says Francis X. Clooney in America, the national Catholic weekly. But the more important point is that God is present in the Haitian people's suffering, "calling to us from the midst of it, in a way that should deeply shake our ordinary way of viewing the world," and inspire us to "find God in the face of those who suffer, yet again."
"In all things"
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