If you listen to geologists, they will tell you the reason the massive earthquake occurred in Haiti last week had to do with seismic activity, fault lines and tectonic plates. At first glance, it’s a believable explanation. But the Rev. Pat Robertson proposes another answer that deserves consideration. Not consideration of its validity but rather consideration as to why in the world he would say such a thing.
According to Robertson, the origins of the earthquake date back to the 18th century. At that time, Haitians were desperate to gain independence from French colonization. How desperate, you ask? Well, Robertson said they were so desperate that they made a deal with the devil, literally. But the reverend explains it much better than I could.
“[The Haitians] got together and swore a pact to the devil,” Robertson said in his Christian Broadcasting Network show. “They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’”
So there we have it, it’s Haiti’s devil worship that caused the earthquake. Never mind that 80 percent of Haitians identify themselves as Roman Catholic, and another 16 percent identify themselves as Protestant.
I think public opinion would be unanimous in that the comments were offensive. They were hurtful to the victims of the disaster and to all those affected.
But I want to take a look at another group that Robertson’s words hurt — Christians.
I, like Robertson (well, hopefully not too much like Robertson), am a Christian. But words like those of Robertson, or the aggressive, condemning preachers on Turlington Plaza, do way more harm than good. I don’t know who they think they’re attracting to the faith by giving people the image of Christians that they do. The disaster in Haiti was a tragedy. There is no chance the God portrayed in the Bible would ever be pleased by the loss of life that occurred, no matter how Robertson or anyone else wants to misrepresent Him.
The earthquake presented an opportunity for Christians to show the survivors in Haiti, and observers around the world, the love of Christ.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” The CIA’s World Factbook reports, Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Its extreme poverty is now compounded by the thousands who are now homeless. I would say they qualify as “the least of these brothers of mine.”
This is not the first time Robertson shed a negative light on Christianity. He also said God sent Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans because the city was full of sin. If this is the way the loving, merciful God described in the Bible really does work, I would think that every other city in the world should be on the lookout for some form of natural disaster heading its way, as no place is free from sin.
So as Robertson, the Dove World Outreach Church people and the Turlington preachers spout a message that appeals to very few, I, and many other Christians around campus, will continue to do my best to live my life in a Christ-like manner. And I’m more than willing to share my faith with others, a faith that revolves not around hateful condemnation but the alternative that Jesus offers.
Paul Runnestrand is a journalism senior and copy editor for the Alligator.