Hear the Rumble of Christian Hypocrisy

Richard Dawkins ( Timesonline.UK January 2010

Hear the rumble of Christian hypocrisy. The evangelist who says the Haiti earthquake is retribution for sin is at least true to his religion.

We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate:

a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, unpremeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.

The religious mind, however, hubristically appropriates the blind happenings of physics for petty moralistic purposes. As with the Indonesian tsunami, which was blamed on loose sexual morals in tourist nightclubs; as with Hurricane Katrina, which was attributed to divine revenge on the entire city of New Orleans for organizing a gay rally; and as with other disasters going back to the famous Lisbon earthquake and beyond, so Haiti’s tragedy must be payback for human “sin”.

The Rev Pat Robertson, infamous American televangelist, sees the hand of God in the earthquake, wreaking terrible retribution for a 1791pact that the Haitians made with the Devil, to help to rid them of their French masters. 1791? Ah, but don’t forget “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me”.

Needless to say, milder-mannered faith-heads fell over themselves to disown Robertson, just as they disowned those other pastors, evangelists, missionaries and mullahs at the time of the earlier disasters.

What hypocrisy. Loathsome as Robertson’s views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition. The agonized heodiceans who see suffering as an intractable “mystery”, or who see God in the help, money and goodwill that is now flooding  into Haiti, or (most nauseating of all) who claim to see God “suffering on the cross” in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, those faux- anguished hypocrites are denying the centerpiece of their own theology. It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here.

Where was God in Noah’s flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world, animal as well as human, as punishment for “sin”. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry, lock, stock and barrel, as punishment for “sin”.

“Oh but that’s the Old Testament. No one believes those stories literally any more. The New Testament is all about love.” Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated, gentle Christian, you cannot be serious. Your entire religion is founded on an obsession with “sin”, with punishment and with atonement. Where do you find the effrontery to condemn Pat Robertson, you who have signed up to the odious doctrine that the central purpose of Jesus’s
incarnation was to have himself tortured as a scapegoat for the “sins” of all mankind, past, present and future, beginning with the “sin” of Adam, who (as any modern theologian well knows) never even existed?

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