I am always entertained by preachers who tell us that when bad things happen, God is angry at us and is punishing us.
Not only do humans step back centuries to age-old mystic ideas to justify what happens, they also ignore important warnings that are based on facts and evidence.
Let’s look at two fairly recent events, the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the repeated tornado outbreaks in Moore, Oklahoma.
Shortly after 9/11, two famous evangelical preachers, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson announced that September 11 happened because God was angry at the United States.
Take a look at this discussion between Falwell and Robertson discussing 9/11.
Falwell blames the ACLU, the Federal Judicial system, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, People for the American Way, all those who tried to “secularize America” are the reason why terrorists successfully highjacked four airplanes and killed a grand total 2,996 people. Then, he backpedalled and, according to The Guardian on September 19, 2001, saying, “Despite the impression some may have from news reports today, I hold no one other than the terrorists and the people and nations who have enabled and harbored them responsible for Tuesday’s attacks on this nation. I sincerely regret that comments I made during a long theological discussion on a Christian television program yesterday were taken out of their context and reported and that my thoughts – reduced to soundbites – have detracted from the spirit of this day of mourning.”
Even though our president at the time, George W. Bush, was and is an evangelical Christian, he denounced the dialog through White House Spokesman Ken Lisaius, who said, “The president believes that terrorists are responsible for these acts. He does not share those views, and believes that those remarks are inappropriate.”
We now know that some kind of attack was expected by then CIA director George Tenet and he reported his findings with alarm to the Bush administration (See the Showtime Documentary, “Spymasters”). The final report by the 9/11 Commission outlined the many warning signs that culminated in the destruction of that day. (See The 9/11 Commission Report.)
It is my personal opinion that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were speaking their own truths on the 700 Show right after 9/11. They truly believe that God inflicts harm on nations who do not listen to Him. The backpedaling that Falwell pulled was a direct result of pressure put on him by the Bush administration or the Republican Party. This is a perfect example of how evangelical Christians try to manipulate the population with fear.
Now, how about this example? Moore, Oklahoma sits near the middle of the State of Oklahoma and just south of Oklahoma City. The Weather Channel has published a graphic, noting how many times Moore has been hit by tornadoes in the past 16 years: This Graphic Shows a Remarkable 16-Year History of Tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma. There is a reason why Moore, OK gets hit by tornadoes. It’s right in the path of Tornado Alley. It is vulnerable to tornadoes because of the proximity of cold air coming out of the Arctic and the warm Gulf Stream breezes. Tornadoes occur occasionally in other parts of the world, but they are commonplace on the Great Plains of the United States–not because God is angry with the people of Moore.
Moore, itself, is very strongly Christian as is the entire state. But after the rash of tornadoes, the Westboro Baptist Church decided that the people of Moore were being punished by God. WBC got right to work, issuing a news release on March 14, 2014 against the town: See God H8S Moore, OK.
The people of Moore were not pleased with WBC’s picketing and pretty much chased the interlopers back to Topeka. See Westboro Baptist Church Chased out of Moore, Oklahoma. Maybe God is punishing New York City, but can’t be punishing Moore, OK., smack-dab in the center of the Bible Belt.
So why do we give some very prominent people in the United States the platform to make these ridiculous claims that natural and man-made disasters are a result of God raining his wrath down on Americans? Well, it’s a free country. And because it’s a free country, we do not censure ignorant people. We let them have their say.
Feel free to believe that God is throwing thunderbolts and lightening down on you for your transgressions–that’s the easy explanation. Then you don’t have to deal with reality. Non-believers are not saddled with these anachronistic beliefs.
Reality, not made-up Satan back-stabbing, is what happened on September 11, 2001 and what will continue to happen in Moore, OK.
Are my two comparisons a stretch? I don’t think so. The reactions to what happened in both places are the result of people who try to use fear to change beliefs to their way. Evangelical Christians can only be successful at recruiting more “Christians” when their targets are steeped in fear. It works on many people. But not all. And it won’t work on me because reality is just…reality. Nothing more (or Moore) and nothing less.