Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Folly of God's Retribution

Why do religious fanatics seem to blame gays for disasters?

By Steve Charing

Like most sensible people, I have always been dismayed and appalled at some extremist members of the religious right for blaming gays (as well as other groups anathema to them) for a range of disasters from AIDS to terrorism to hurricanes and do so under the auspices of "God’s retribution." These folks are not basing their assessments on any religious grounding; they simply hate gay people despite their hollow denials. And they hide behind God to spew their venom by cherry picking parts of Scripture to suit their needs.

Of course, the Bible has been used as a weapon against gays and lesbians forever, and punishment "in the name of God" is as convenient as it is unprovable. In modern times, however, the religious fanatics have stepped it up, as the pushing of the so-called "gay agenda" is increasingly becoming odious to them.

During the 1980s AIDS was proclaimed as God’s retribution for the homosexual lifestyle according to many fundamentalist religious zealots. While that stance has quieted down some, it hasn’t disappeared altogether from the mindset of the fringe. Nevermind that lesbians are among the least likely to encounter HIV or that tens of millions of heterosexuals around the world are inflicted. Still, to some, gays are the ones being punished by God, not to mention they were the cause of the disease.

Then there was 9/11. Rev. Jerry Falwell, in concurrence with the other member of the dubious duo, Pat (let’s "take out" a nation’s president) Robertson, included gays and lesbians among those responsible for the attacks. "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen,’" said Falwell, who later clumsily apologized.

Robertson, who still maintains a large audience despite his blather, has taken credit for steering hurricane Isabel away from his headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA by the power of his prayer. He made similar claims on a number of other occasions. But his obsession with hurricanes took on a new twist: they are God’s retribution.

In 1998 Robertson said on his TV show, The 700 Club in reaction to Disney’s Gay Days, "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you." The predicted hurricane sidestepped Orlando without comments from Robertson or a religious-based explanation. The TV preacher also said the widespread practice of homosexuality "will bring about terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."
To think this whacko ran for President of the United States!

Hurricane Katrina, which is arguably the most destructive natural U.S. disaster on record—bringing misery to millions of people and killing perhaps thousands—has been seen as a different form of retribution. Wrote one blogger, "Since Pat Robertson likes to use Hurricanes as punishment for sins - like Florida and the homosexuals at Disney World - I'm going to ‘spin’ it too. God is punishing ALL RED states surrounding the coastlines for voting for that stupid moron in the White House!" Agree or not, it is truly an extension of Robertson’s logic that God punishes the wicked amongst us.

And right on cue, a fundamentalist Christian group called Repent America blamed Katrina on New Orleans’ planned but cancelled gay extravaganza, Southern Decadence that had been scheduled for Labor Day weekend. "From 'Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence,’ New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same," said the group’s director Michael Marcavage. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," he said. I suppose the ravaged Biloxi, MS must have had a gay event planned; we just didn’t know about it.

By the grace of God, when will this nonsense end?

1 comment:

PFLAG Dad: Dan said...

It will never end. Thankfully. I believe the vast majority of religious/spiritual Americans see this as complete nonsense. These rants serve the important function of marginalizing the radical religous right and illuminating their extremism. Recently in response to Dover PA's wholesale electoral rejection of the mindless "Intelligent Design" School Board, Pat Robertson told them that as a community, Dover had rejected God and better pray to Charles Darwin should disaster befall their community. The religious faithful of Dover told Robertson to take a hike and mind his own (failing) business.

I say more coverage and exposure for the Fred Phelps and the Pat Robertsons of the world. They will fall poetically on their own swords of hatred.