What is it about American Christianists? How can one say that a catastrophic earthquake, with a death toll of at least 100,000 people, and that might rise to half a million, be “a blessing in disguise”?
Well, I don’t hate America, I love ’er – as the Girls put it in West Side Story:
I like to be in America
Okay by me in America
Everything free in America
Not only that, but also:
Skyscrapers bloom in America
Cadillacs zoom in America
Industry boom in America
And Puerto Rico – cheerfully going about its business this ordinary day – as the Sharks might remind us, is only half an island from Haiti, deep in the after-trauma of its killer quake.
“And [the Haitians] got together and swore a pact to the devil … ever since, they have been cursed …”
And so we turn to Pat Robertson, one of the most prominent of America’s religious leaders, constantly on TV, a man who campaigned to be the Republican Presidential candidate in 1988. On the religious channel CBN he wondered if the earthquake “may be a blessing in disguise.” Then he had this to say:
PAT ROBERTSON: And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They 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.”
And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now, we’re helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.
KRISTI WATTS (co-host): Absolutely, Pat.
Watch for yourself. The “blessing in disguise” is in the first 30 seconds:
Perhaps one could take an upbeat reading of Euripides’ great line: Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius.
Erm, to you and me, that’s “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”
Otherwise, as the sign on a church I pass by regularly advises: “Don’t let Christians put you off Jesus.”