Ever since I heard this heartbreaking story on NPR’s Morning Edition about the deadly toll Texas’ historic drought is taking on wildlife, I’ve been thinking. Thinking back to 2001, when Christian evangelist Pat Robertson told us the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were God’s punishment for America’s predilection for pornography and abortion. Back to 2005, when Robertson and other Christian conservatives blamed Hurricane Katrina on legalized abortion and homosexual behavior. Back to March of this year, when Glen Beck speculated that the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan was God’s wake-up call to a sinful world.
I’ve also been thinking back to just a few weeks ago, when tens of thousands of evangelical Christians gathered in Dallas, Texas, to try to pray America out of its economic and moral doldrums. And what I’ve been thinking is this: Does it ever occur to any of the evangelicals who deeply believe that God sends natural disasters to punish wayward behavior that maybe He’s trying to tell Texas something?
Maybe he’s trying to tell Texas and its evangelical Governor-cum-Presidential candidate, Rick Perry, that it’s time to stop kowtowing to multi-billion dollar business interests who demand lower and lower corporate taxes that force middle- and working-class people to bear ever-larger economic burdens. Time to start enacting and enforcing reasonable air and water pollution standards. Time to start taking care of its most vulnerable citizens. Time to stop killing innocent people in its prison system. Truly, I can’t help but wonder why Pat Robertson isn’t jumping on this opportunity to warn wayward Texans to straighten up and get right with God.
Now, I don’t really believe that God sends natural disasters to kill innocent people to send a message. You could say I’m more in tune with the New Testament Jesus than the Old Testament Jehovah. But the point isn’t what I believe. It’s what these prominent evangelical Christians have repeatedly and publicly stated that they believe. And it’s not just the conservative Christians who get TV time who believe it. According to a USA Today poll earlier this year, 60% of evangelical Christians in America “believe God can use natural disasters to send messages”. So where are they now? Maybe they should have a little chat with their poster boy, Gov. Perry, about removing the log from his own eye before he starts poking at the splinters in the eyes of others.