Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Pat Robertson’s God

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

With great interest I read that the earthquake that devastated Haiti was God’s work, occasioned by a deal the Haitians made with the devil a couple hundred years ago.  According to Pat Robertson:

“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.”

This got me to thinking. . . .

Although I’ve never actually met God, at least not in the flesh, so to speak, I have always thought of him (her?) as both all powerful and all good.  That’s what I was always taught, and it just seems that’s the way God ought to be.

So I started thinking more about this Haiti and the devil business, and a couple of things didn’t quite add up.  First of all, why would the Haitians have to turn to the devil to free themselves from slavery?  Here’s what I’m thinking.  Slavery is a bad thing.  God is good, the devil is bad.  So if I want to be delivered from evil, wouldn’t it make more sense to ask God, who is good, than the devil, who is bad?  Yeh, so that struck me as kind of odd.

In fact, I’ve actually been to Haiti, and I noticed that there were quite a few churches there, a lot of them very old, so it’s not like the Haitians wouldn’t have known about God or anything.  So I think they would have asked God first to remove the yoke of slavery before they would have gone to the devil.  Since God is all good, he, or she, would surely have not turned them down.

Something else didn’t make sense.  Assuming for some reason or another that the Haitians actually did make that deal with the devil and that God was mightily peeved by it.  Being all powerful, why would she (or he) have to wait 200 years to muster up a big earthquake to punish them?  I know that time doesn’t exist for God, or so I’ve been told, but still, if the Haitians are supposed to make a connection between their deal and their punishment, shouldn’t one closely follow the other?  Also, there were a whole bunch of non-Haitians killed in the earthquake, and I can’t say that they ever made a deal with the devil, and with God being all good and everything, why were they thrown into the mix?

As mentioned above, I’ve been to Haiti, and the one thing that impressed me more than anything was the natural peacefulness and gentleness of the people.  To be sure, the Haitians have not had an easy time of it for a long, long time, and I was struck by how a people that have suffered so much deprivation, for so long, managed to maintain such a remarkable disposition.  It sure didn’t strike me as devilish.

On the other hand, the world seems to be teeming with people who I’ve got to believe have had a conversation or two with the devil.  Where’s their earthquake?  Or even a bolt of lightening.

One last thing that confuses me.  How does Robertson know about this deal?  I have to believe that people who make pacts with the devil generally like to keep quiet about such things.  Presumably, that means that until now, only the devil and the Haitians knew about this contract.  Since no Haitian has stepped forward and acknowledged the deed, I have to ask:

Just who is Pat Robertson talking to anyway?

The Legacy of Jerry Falwell

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

In his own words:

“The true Negro does not want integration… He realizes his potential is far better among his own race… It will destroy our race eventually… In one northern city, a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife… It boils down to whether we are going to take God’s Word as final.”

“[I]f Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made … The facilities [for the races] should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”

The latter is from a sermon (of all places!).

From the Hate Wars

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

“See How Much They Hate Us!” is always a winning story. So when a British teacher named Colin Cook got sacked from the King Fahd Academy in west London, he decided that it was his patriotic duty (in addition to suing for money damages) to let all of Britain know just how much hate and vitriol against westerners was being taught to the impressionable young minds at the Academy. According to Cook, the youngsters were being taught from a textbook that called Jews apes and Christians pigs. Needless the say, the media was only too eager to publicize and even embellish Mr. Cook’s allegations.

Never mind that Mr. Cook had worked at the Academy for 19 years and was untroubled by the environment of hate until he was canned. And apparently if Mr. Cook had his druthers, he would still be working there. After all, his real complaint is about being fired. And yes, Mr. Cook claims to be a whistle-blower, and whistle-blowers deserve protection, but he wasn’t blowing the whistle about young folk being taught to hate, but about alleged cheating. I know nothing about the merits of Mr. Cook’s case, but it’s conceivable he has an ax to grind and before giving air to his allegations one might want to check the facts. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about “fair and balanced” reporting, just accurate reporting.

Mr. Cook’s allegations reached my delicate ears via the morning show on Air America Radio, of all places. A point of clarification here. There are actually two morning shows on Air America Radio. The “official” network show is the Young Turks, which can be heard over the internet, via XM Radio or some network stations. If you live in the New York Metropolitan area, however, you get something called Sammy and Army, or vice versa. Sam is Sam Greenfield and Army is Armstrong Williams, and their show is broadcast over WWRL, the “flagship” station of Air America. If you’re wondering what Armstrong Williams is doing on Air America, well, that’s a whole ‘nother story which I imagine I’ll get around to discussing some other day.

Anyway, what I heard was Sam Greenfield, who is normally pretty level headed, going off in a semi-rant, half hysterical, half disbelief, about this Muslim school in London that uses a text book that teaches children that Jews are apes and Christians pigs, and that the school is unapologetic, refuses to remove the offending book from its curriculum and is funded by the Saudi government to boot. Greenfield urges his audience to call in and, apparently based on this information, opine on whether all Muslims are taught to hate.

Something seemed fishy to me and so I did a little digging. The only news outlet that saw fit to print the whole story was, to its credit, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, and it appears that the whole flap was over a quote from an early Islamic scholar that appeared in a footnote. Furthermore, the book was not even used in the school’s curriculum.
Still, this doesn’t stop such nonsense as, and I kid you not, “‘We Do Call Jews Apes’, Admits Head of Islamic School” which appeared in some rag called the digital journal.

All of this reminds me of the big flap over the Pope’s quote of an early Christian scholar who had some unflattering things to say about Islam. At the time the general tenor of the press coverage was that Muslims are hypersensitive and distorted innocent comments in order to find insult. But now the shoe is on the other foot, and oh what howling we hear!

There’s a lot to take from this story, at multiple levels. I’m not going to go into all of them. There real disservice to this kind of stuff is that it gives people who are inclined to hate a justification for their views. Somebody who’s a big confused over the whole Christian/Muslim issue and who is genuinely looking for answers is going to be troubled by the idea that Muslims in London are taught to hate Jews and Christians. Of course, those who already harbor animus against Islam, and there are plenty, will jump all over this as validation of their hatred.

On YouTube there’s a clip from a BBC grilling of the headmistress of the school in question. One of the points that she’s skewered over is the teaching that non-Muslims will rot in hellfire after they die. Now really, how can anybody get all boiled up over this kind of stuff? It’s standard issue Christian belief that non-believers won’t go to heaven, and many brands of Christianity believe that all non-believers will go to hell. Big news, right? When’s the last time the BBC has brought in mainstream Christians and cross examined them on their religious intolerance because of their belief that acceptance of Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation?

To those who pretend to be scandalized by this, and that includes the BBC, I say “grow up!” Do some Muslims consider Jews no better than pigs? I have no doubt. Do some Jews consider all Arabs to be animals? I have heard it with my own ears. Quite coincidently in the most recent issue of The Nation is a letter from Steven Cohen, a Jewish reader in Scarsdale, New York. Mr. Cohen writes about an interview he conducted of Joseph Burg, then a prominent member of the National Religious Party in Israel. After the interview Burg took Cohen aside to talk as “one Jew to another” and proceeded to describe Palestinian Arabs as animals. Cohen goes on to describe that Burg’s view was widespread and openly stated.

We need less religious intolerance, not more. Distorting religious views of others to make it appear that “they” hate “us” may sell newspapers, but it also reinforces attitudes that make religious violence and intolerance more acceptable.