On the 700 Club last Wednesday, the one-time conservative Christian leader was claiming that Haitians brought this tragic earthquake on themselves because they made a "pact with the devil."
Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about. They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon the Third 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 Prince.' True story. And so the Devil said, 'OK it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.
In near disbelief, I tried to reason it out in my mind. Surely Pat Robertson couldn't be so cruel. He must have heard the reports of the over 100,000 casualties. Surely he's seen all seen the pictures of babies' bodies being stacked like firewood, their limbs mangled and bodies crushed. Yet even in the face of all this, the 80-year-old broadcaster wrangled enough energy to pervert the situation by blaming this tragedy on the Haitians themselves.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time remarks made on Robertson's television show has made us all want to hide under rocks in the wake of tragedy. Who can forget the strikingly similar comments made by Jerry Falwell after 9/11 on the 700 Club:
We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we've stuck our finger in your eye. The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They've taken your Bible away from the schools. They've forbidden little children to pray. They've taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America.
It's a strange theology that claims to trace the wrath of God to particular people and issues. It's even more strange applying that theology to tragedies like this. In Haiti, a husband searches for water to quench the thirst of what's left of his family and a mother weeps over the limp body of her firstborn. In America, Robertson is retelling folklore about "you know, Napoleon the Third and whatever" so as to cast blame for this event on the Haitians and their "pact with the Devil."
There are more important things to do right now than attack Robertson. As a nation reels and hundreds of thousands suffer, we don't have time to deal with Robertson's comment. Now is the time for goodness and mercy and generosity. And then, after we've given these people everything we have in us and their tears have begun to dry, it will be time to address why we're even allowing certain people to continue to have a voice in our culture... and why some people are paying them to speak.