Most people who have heard about the Rev. Pat Robertson’s assertion on the 700 Club that Haiti’s earthquake represents some sort of divine retribution for a “pact” made between Haitian freedom fighters and Satan back in 1803 probably shook their heads and chuckled at another sign the old goat is getting up there in years.
But let’s don’t forget this is part of a longstanding Robertson habit that goes back a long way to the days when he was an undoubted major power broker in the Christian Right, the conservative movement, and the Republican Party.
Don’t take my word for it; here’s a good analysis from Peter Wehner at National Review‘s The Corner:
There is another important issue involved here, which is a warped and confused theology Robertson has employed before. For example, Robertson agreed with Jerry Falwell that on 9/11 God lifted the “curtain” and allowed the enemies of America to give us “probably what we deserve”; and in 1998 he warned after Orlando city officials voted to fly rainbow flags from city lampposts during an annual Gay Day event at Disney World, “I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you. . . . [A] condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs, it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.”
Pat Robertson’s argument is as neat and clean as a mathematical equation: God grants blessings and curses on nations and people based on their allegiance and obedience to Him. If things are going well, you’re living right; if things are going badly, you’re living wrong. And it is Robertson himself who can divine the hierarchy of sins that most trouble God.
But this view simply does not correspond with any serious understanding of Christianity.
Couldn’t agree more, but Wehner does not observe that Robertson’s arrogant presumption that he knows God’s Will on every occasion is exceptionally common within the Christian Right, and conservative fundamentalist circles generally. Ol’ Pat’s confident belief that God hates Haiti is no stranger than the equally confident belief of his many Christian Right colleagues over the years that God opposed the Panama Canal Treaty, supports high-end tax cuts and the Iraq War, wants Israel to touch off Armageddon, and dislikes health care reform. If you happen to be a fundamentalist, there’s at least a bit of scriptural evidence to support the Christian Right’s argument against gay rights (though there’s a lot less scriptural basis for their passionate anti-abortion crusade), but it’s hardly the sort of proposition that is self-evident. Robertson’s breezy I-speak-for-God assertions about Haiti don’t really stand out in the Christian Right tradition.
So let’s not marginalize Robertson as a long-in-the-tooth nut who has lost his wits. He’s arguably made his own pact with the Devil to subordinate the Christian Gospel to a single-minded devotion to conservative culture and right-wing politics. And he’s hardly alone.