Monday, September 11, 2017

The Tragedy of Politicizing Disasters

Some pastors were quick to blame gays for this
As we commemorate the events of September 11, 2001 and remember the loss of innocent lives of ordinary people and first responders, it is a vivid reminder how some who have a forum to disseminate information, abused that privilege to politicize the horrors of that day. 

In a mean-spirited attempt to manipulate grief-stricken Americans to fall in line with his orthodoxy, Rev. Jerry Falwell told fellow Christian conservative Pat Robertson, “[T]he 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,” Falwell continued, “I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.’” Robertson agreed.

A few days later, Falwell, after receiving a severe dose of backlash, released a statement saying his comments were taken out of context. “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,” he said.

For his part, Robertson denied blaming gays or atheists for the attacks.  Nonetheless, they made their points.

More recently during the presidential campaign, Donald Trump insisted that “thousands and thousands and thousands” of people in the Arab neighborhoods of Jersey City, N.J. openly celebrated the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.  This was a naked attempt to throw red meat to his xenophobic, anti-Muslim base to gain their support.  Of course, it was a blatant lie as much of what Trump says usually is; however, we are still awaiting his “correction.”

Who should we blame?
Of course, over the years, disasters—man-made or natural—have been blamed by clergy on groups as a manifestation of “God’s wrath.”  

As written by Kimberly Winston in the Salt Lake City Tribune, when Superstorm Sandy hit the New York-New Jersey region in 2012, pastors were quick to explain the phenomenon.  

“God is systematically destroying America,” the Rev. John McTernan, a conservative Christian pastor, said in a post-Sandy blog entry that has since been removed. The reason God was so peeved, he asserted, was “the homosexual agenda.”

Writes Winston, “Usually, their logic revolves around LGBT themes — Buster Wilson of the American Family Association insisted God sent Hurricane Isaac to stop an annual LGBT festival; the Rev. Franklin Graham blamed Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans’ 'orgies'; and Catholic priest Gerhard Wagner called Katrina 'divine retribution' for New Orleans’ tolerance of homosexuality.  Other times, the scapegoat is gay marriage, abortion rights or foreign policies seen as harmful to Israel.”

Many have argued that these events cannot be attributed to a vengeful God because God does not want to see people suffering.  Yet, the pastors will further their untaxed but political advocacy by using God as a weapon to punish people, activities or events anathema to them.

Two can play that game.  I can say with equal authority that the states affected by the deadly hurricanes Harvey and Irma were God’s wrath against them because they voted for Trump. 

See how silly that sounds?

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