Anglican Samizdat

January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson in trouble again

Filed under: Christianity — David Jenkins @ 11:23 pm

This time, because on his TV show he tells us that Haiti is cursed due to a pact they made with the devil.

This hasn’t been particularly popular either in the mainstream media, blog-land or, in fact, anywhere at all. The National Post, for example, call the remarks “distasteful comments”, and according to Keith Olberman, Robertson has revealed himself to be the devil.

Robertson’s organisation, CBN has attempted to settle things down by pointing out:

Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.

And has links to Operation Blessing which is collecting for disaster relief.

The almost universal – by Christians and non-Christians – condemnation of Robertson’s comments, seems to be fuelled by the following undeclared ideas:

  1. The devil doesn’t exist; Robertson is a fool to believe he does, let alone that a nation could make a pact with him.
  2. People are not responsible for their own condition; Robertson is implying it’s the fault of the people of Haiti and they only have themselves – or their ancestors – to blame.
  3. Even if Haiti did make a pact with the devil, God would not punish them because even if the devil exists, God’s wrath doesn’t. God would also not allow the devil to punish them.
  4. Spiritual forces are not at work in the world; an apparent evil that befalls a nation is the result of  a natural accident (which means it isn’t evil, of course, just – accidental).

None of the above points are particularly consistent with a Christian view of reality, so they should not evoke an outpouring of high-minded indignation from Christians. For materialists, atheists and Darwinians, a disaster killing hundreds of thousands of people is nature culling excess numbers of a species that has over-reproduced – neither good nor evil, but possibly beneficial to the species in the long run.

So why is everyone so upset at Robertson? Perhaps because he was tactless.



  1. I’m not convinced that Pat Robertson’s perspective represents a proper exegsis of Exodus 34:6-7 & Deuteronomy 5:8-10. Also, what about those who are descendents of people who arrived in Haiti after the supposed “pact with the devil” was made? Are they guilty due to geographical proximity?

    Comment by Warren — January 14, 2010 @ 12:12 am

  2. Yes, you always have to ask: Where have we heard about this event (particularly Robertson’s comment, but also reactions to it)? And what is the worldview/bias of those people/agencies? A good example was the rise of Sarah Palin: we (in Britain) only really heard her views etc. from antagonist organisations (such as the Brazenly Biased Corporation). She came to us pre-demoised (by the US MSM), then was extra-demonised by the British MSM; thus, I personally will take no view concerning Sarah Palin till I’ve heard her own account of her own views, etc. (and Sarah Palin is just an example, of course).

    Comment by John Thomas — January 14, 2010 @ 4:44 am

  3. Palin and Robertson — is this what America is about? Guess so.

    Comment by Joe — January 14, 2010 @ 6:00 am

  4. I don’t think #2 is inconsistent with a Christian worldview.

    Comment by Kate — January 14, 2010 @ 6:26 am

  5. Warren,
    Your comments flow out of a scripturally informed position. The majority of the slams against Robertson display a magnificent lack of scriptural knowledge. Ignorance perpetuating ignorance.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — January 14, 2010 @ 8:14 am

  6. Kate [#4],
    Thanks, I misstated point 2 – I’ll change it.

    Comment by David — January 14, 2010 @ 9:34 am

  7. I think my point still stands, David. I think he was saying that the people of Haiti were at fault, and it was a manifestly stupid thing for him to say. What good did that statement do? All it did was provide fuel for folks who think all evangelical Christians are racist bigots. Somebody ought to take his microphone away.

    Comment by Kate — January 14, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  8. Warren [#1],
    Possibly it doesn’t; but I think there is a way that the sins of the father seem to be visited upon the children that doesn’t appear to be acknowledged by the link you reference. For example, the effect of bad parents – drug addicts, say – are almost always felt in their offspring, and their offspring. That is not to say that such an influence is inescapable for the children, but it is still there. Whether that can be applied to Haiti in the way Robertson applies it is another question – while it seems not outside the bounds of possibility, I’m inclined to think not and that Luke 13:4 might apply.

    Kate [#7],
    Yes, he probably should have kept quiet. Nevertheless, I am not persuaded that the type of curse that he believes has afflicted the Haitians is entirely implausible. The Christian response should still be one of compassion and assistance, of course.

    Comment by David — January 14, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

  9. Hateful fundamentalism has probably already afflicted the Haitians more than we know. Roman Catholic teaching on contraception may lie behind their unchecked population growth, which has meant that many Haitian children are sold (often into prostitution). Pat Robertson’s remarks are a horrific travesty of Christianity. I predict that the apparent robustness of American Christianity today is a deceptive appearance. The whitewashed wall will soon crumble.

    Comment by Joe — January 15, 2010 @ 4:56 am

  10. Joe, what you need to do is survey all the Haitian children, tell them (the truth) that but for Roman Catholic teaching they would probably not exist, and ask them if they would prefer to have not been born, in order to allow their parents to have had consequence-free sex. And the children sold into prostitution: terrible, but worse than not having had a life at all? What would they say? Perhaps you’d prefer that they’d had no life at all rather than living, and having been sold into prostitution. Ultimately, decrying Catholic teaching means promoting the Culture of Death. [I’m not a Catholic, by the way.]

    Comment by John Thomas — January 15, 2010 @ 5:47 am

  11. Joe,
    And there it was in front of me all the time! The problem is Haiti is the result of “Hateful fundamentalism.”

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — January 15, 2010 @ 9:28 am

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