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Pat Robertson: Is God punishing Haiti?

As news broke of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Pat Robertson said on his TV show that Haitians themselves were to blame because of a pact Haiti’s founders made with the devil.

“It’s no secret that the Rev. Pat Robertson is a yammering fool,” said Carl Hiaasen in The Miami Herald, “but last week he hit a new low.” As news broke of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Robertson explained to the million-strong audience of his syndicated TV show, The 700 Club, that Haitians themselves were to blame. In the late 18th century, he said, Haiti’s founders “swore a pact to the devil” in return for being freed from their French colonial masters. Robertson’s remark was not only heartless, said Peter Wehner in National Review Online. It failed to “correspond with any serious understanding of Christianity.” The Christian faith, at its heart, is about mercy in this world and redemption in the next. Only in Robertson’s distorted imagination would an angry Christian God dish out misery to an island full of innocents, to punish them for the supposed heresy of their great-great-great-grandfathers.

Robertson’s interpretation of events was admittedly “obnoxious,” said Elizabeth McAlister in Forbes.com, but interpreting the unfathomable is a preacher’s job. The purpose of religion is “to make sense out of chaos,” to discern and reveal “the unseen forces that cause things to be the way they are.” The great irony here is that while Robertson’s remarks have outraged people here in the States, many Haitians have long suspected that there are supernatural underpinnings to the island’s horrible run of bad luck. And according to mainstream Haitian lore, said Eric Metaxas in FoxNews.com, the country’s founders really did hold a voodoo ceremony at which they slaughtered a pig and “made a pact with the devil.” No one knows whether or not the myth is true, of course, but is it so outrageous of Pat Robertson to suggest that “starting a nation this way might not be the best approach?”

That we are even “having this conversation is ridiculous,” said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. We long ago learned that earthquakes are caused not by vengeful deities but by the shifting of Earth’s tectonic plates, and they bear no “malice toward any particular man, woman, or child.” Don’t tell that to Robertson, who said 9/11 was God’s punishment of a sinful America, said Michael Rowe in HuffingtonPost.com. Through such bile, Robertson solicits millions in donations from his spellbound flock, and shelters those ill-gotten gains behind his religious tax exemption. Who is it really, Rev. Robertson, “who’s made a pact with the devil”?

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