I hear the voice of god. Well, OK, it is Pat Robertson whispering in my ear, but that is pretty close. The subject of his whispers seems to be expanding. Prognosticator and religious leader Robertson has gotten into the business of socio-economic analysis. Of President Obama the oracle said on his show Thursday, December 13, 2012, that "I think he thinks ideologically: 'I must cripple the capitalist class; I must cripple the business owners; I must destroy the free enterprise system in America.'"
Note that while he had the floor Robertson never offered any explanation of how Obama was going to accomplish these sinister goals. Robertson did not address actions Obama has taken that would seem to work in the opposite direction of saving capitalism, nor the fact that the stock market is up nearly 70 percent during the first four years of his presidency. In comparison, after eight years of George Bush the market had declined 25 percent. Which president between the two could be considered the champion of destroying America's free enterprise system?
While patently absurd, and easily dismissed, we cannot afford to ignore Robertson's rant because his views and those of his followers present a danger to civil society. He meddles in politics while claiming tax exempt status as a non-secular religious leader; he attempts to influence our secular world while hiding behind the shield of religion. He agitates unrest following man-made and natural disasters, claiming to know the will and mind of god. He promotes hate and distrust of those who do not comply with his worldview. Let's take a look at a few examples.
Following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Pat Robertson (echoing Jerry Falwell) claimed the tragedy was the fault of the "ACLU, the abortionists, the pagans, the feminists, the gays and the lesbians, not to mention People for the American Way" because "God would not be mocked." One wonders if the families of the 3,000 dead blame gays or Islamic terrorists for the loss of their loved ones; and if Robertson is promoting healing or hate.
On September 1, 2005, Robertson claimed that Hurricane Katrina was sent by god in retribution for legalized abortion. The storm coincided with the hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee John Roberts during which the old idea of a litmus test on abortion came up. The storm according to Roberts was god being angry at the presence of the litmus test. Robertson's lunacy inspires madness in others as well. Hal Lindsey in his September 9 show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network said, "It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun. I warn continually that the last days lineup of world powers does not include anything resembling the United States of America. Instead, a revived Roman Empire in Europe is to rule the West, and then the world."
Robertson blamed the devastating earthquake in Haiti in early 2010 on that country's "pact with the devil." The tragedy was a consequence of something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. The Haitians were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.'" So this dialogue with the devil is a "true story." But climate change is a hoax. Sigh.
The fast food chain's president Dan Cathy told a gathering of religious conservatives that his company supported "the biblical definition of a family. I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage."' This is official corporate policy, not the views of one individual. Just as our First Amendment gives us freedom to express ourselves, so too do we have the right to protest. Cathy's statement infuriated the gay community, who promptly organized protests in response. But Robertson did not see this as two sides exercising the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. Nope. He said that protestors have no right to condemn Chick-fil-A "until homosexuals produce a baby from their rear end." I kid you not. He quoted Leviticus to bolster his point that homosexuality is an abomination "for a man to lie with a man as with a woman." (Leviticus has nothing to say about Lesbianism by the way). I say if we are going to rely on Leviticus for guidance, we must also call on society to stone to death any woman who falsely presents herself as a virgin on her wedding night. And we need to be sacrificing goats and cattle as well to appease a wrathful god. If one section of Leviticus is valid enough to control social policy today, then all of it must be; otherwise, who could know what passage to choose? Even though quoting Leviticus is silly, that is not Robertson's oddest transgression. His remarks imply that any heterosexual couple unable to conceive a child is committing a sin, an abomination, every time they have sex.
Sikh Temple Shooting
On August 5, 2012, a lone gunman and known white supremacist walked into a Sikh temple in Milwaukee and killed six people. Thankfully when confronted with such horrific senseless acts of violence we have Pat Robertson to interpret the word of god for us. With his insight we now know why the shooting at the Sikh temple took place. Robertson says, "... people who are atheists, they hate God, they hate the expression of God, and they are angry at the world, angry with themselves, angry with society and they take it out on innocent people who are worshiping God..." Being one myself who rejects the idea of god I've never had the urge to harm innocent people. Unlike Christians during the Crusades. Hey, if Robertson can hark back to ancient history with the devil, I can reference an event much more recent in human history.
Following his growing tradition of blaming hurricanes on god's displeasure with gays, Robertson said following Isaac, which threatened the GOP national convention, that Isaac was "God's wrath" against sinners, specifically the hundreds or thousands of closeted Republicans gathering in Tampa. He got more specific: the storm was god's vengeance for "Republicans who are getting nookie on the down low, marrying just to keep up a facade, or ordering up gay prostitutes more often than they call Dominoes." He did not entertain the possibility that the hurricane was god's wrath for the GOP nominating Romney. But what more direct proof can we ask for that god does not like Republicans? A hurricane barreling down on a GOP convention would be a direct hit -- the equivalent of a lightning bolt hitting an individual sinner. It would be like a strike at a bowling alley; a bull's eye on a dart board, a three pointer at a basketball game. It must mean god is really ticked off at the GOP and their ideas about legitimate rape; how could Robertson conclude anything else?
Of this devastating 1964 trembler Robertson said... absolutely nothing. So we must therefore ask the great "broadcaster, humanitarian, author, Christian, businessman, statesman" from Lexington, Virginia, for what sins did the citizens of Anchorage, Alaska, suffer for the quake of 1964? Why was there no declaration of god's intent from that event? And we must query Robertson on the divine meaning of the massive earthquake in Chile. Perhaps their sin is naming a country after a pepper, and then misspelling it?
According to religious seers like Robertson, sinners will inevitably suffer the wrath of god in the form of earthquakes, floods, fire or disease as biblical punishment for their errant ways. But take note that the declarations and explanations of such divine calamities always come after the fact, making their predictive qualities a bit suspect. Creating an explanation for a past event is child's play, and not horribly interesting.
Odd that we don't hear from Robertson about genocide in Africa, or about the one billion people in the world with no access to fresh water or adequate nutrition. What about the 50,000 soldiers who died in Vietnam? What was god's plan for vengeance with the tsunami in Indonesia? Robertson's proclamations are childish, inconsistent and vile; the ravings of an old man who has lost his grip on reality. Claiming to know god's intent following a natural disaster is the worst kind of hucksterism.
The time has come to use Robertson's own phraseology to counter his hate: "those who love god just hate all those who don't love their particular understanding of god and they are angry at the world, angry with themselves, angry with society and they take it out on innocent people who are worshipping another god..." True story.