The Devil You Say

Cidu Bill on Jan 14th 2010

I ask this as a serious question: Why is Pat Robertson regarded as a legitimate religious leader rather than, you know, a raving lunatic?

Filed in Bill Bickel, Haiti, Pat Robertson | 84 responses so far

84 Responses to “The Devil You Say”

  1. Kit Jan 14th 2010 at 12:49 am 1

    Uh . . . I’ve always thought he was a raving lunatic . . . what brought this on?

  2. Kate C Jan 14th 2010 at 01:09 am 2

  3. Chuck Jan 14th 2010 at 01:53 am 3

    Is it bad that I read that as Rob Pattinson? Yes. It’s horrible. Clearly I must eradicate the twilight lovers from my life. Too bad some of them are professors….

  4. Charlene Jan 14th 2010 at 02:37 am 4

    Because usually he spews his filth about gays, so he gets away with it.

    If an atheist talked about Christians the way Pat Robertson talks about people he assumes aren’t Christians (including the Haitians) he’d be murdered and people would cheer his death in the streets.

  5. sigh Jan 14th 2010 at 05:34 am 5

    fyi -
    700 Club TV statement - “Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear.”

    uhm…whatever. Apology FAIL

  6. Lord-z Jan 14th 2010 at 06:46 am 6

    Because he is on TV?

  7. Molly J Jan 14th 2010 at 08:38 am 7

    Because his followers are raving lunatics too?

  8. Tim Jan 14th 2010 at 09:03 am 8

    At one time, he said things that we not too far from the Bible. Today, most Christians see him as a raving lunatic, and want to distance themselves from him.

  9. Jeff S. Jan 14th 2010 at 09:07 am 9

    I agree with Kit (#1), and I suspect Molly (#7) has the answer.

  10. The Bad Seed Jan 14th 2010 at 09:21 am 10

    Would it be permitted to postulate that most/all of his supporters 1) love Fox News and all its commentators, and 2) love Sarah Palin and still hope she ends up being POTUS? I’m not saying that all of those other 2 groups necessarily love Pat, though (giving them the benefit of the doubt).

  11. padraig Jan 14th 2010 at 09:47 am 11

    Why? Because he’s on TV!

    Just like Jesus was.

  12. John Small Berries Jan 14th 2010 at 09:47 am 12

    From the article: “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” Robertson said on his Christian Broadcasting Network show. “They were under the heel of the French . . . and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’

    “True story. And the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal,’ ” Robertson said.

    As they say on Wikipedia, [citation needed].

  13. Dyfsunctional Jan 14th 2010 at 10:22 am 13

    I’d just like to go ahead and Godwin this thread and mention that Adolf Hitler was the democratically elected Chancellor of Germany for a good many years.

  14. Hunt Jan 14th 2010 at 10:28 am 14

    When Pat Robertson first began the 700 Club, he had a very different image than he has now. He was calm and businesslike (compared to other evangelists), and his use of a talk-show setting was new. He seemed like a professional. It was only after he got involved in politics that he went completely off the rails. I’ve often wondered whether the devil took Pat to a high mountain and showed him all the nations of the Earth, etc.

  15. Tim O'Shenko Jan 14th 2010 at 10:42 am 15

    I think you’re on to something, Hunt.

    Of course, the man is also now indescribably wealthy and political invincible. He owns gold and diamond mines in Africa, and has bilked people out of money through the 700 Club in order to transport mining equipment. Through a generous campaign contribution to the Virginia Attorney General, he bought himself freedom from any legal action. Read more here:

  16. Molly J Jan 14th 2010 at 10:53 am 16

    Huh, Tim. I guess Mr. Robertson has a narrower definition of “making a deal with the devil,” than I do.

  17. Duncman Jan 14th 2010 at 11:43 am 17

    I thought this was a funny take on the whole thing.×730&feature=sub

  18. Omar Jan 14th 2010 at 11:49 am 18

    @Charlene (#4): I’m with you

  19. Derek Jan 14th 2010 at 12:04 pm 19

    Why is *anybody* regarded as a legitimate religious leader? If people believe that there is a big invisible man who controls everything and is deeply concerned with what we do on Sundays and where we put our genitals and so on, then it’s only logical for them to also believe that he occasionally makes good on his threats.
    Moderate religious people seem to reject the conclusion while holding on to the premise. The respect they demand for unfounded irrational beliefs allows the spread of nutters like Pat Robertson and his followers who *really* hold these beliefs.

  20. Elyrest Jan 14th 2010 at 12:27 pm 20

    It’s hard to comment on Pat Robertson without feeling a little bit dirty. No, make that a whole lot dirty.

  21. TonyJazz Jan 14th 2010 at 12:36 pm 21

    It’s one thing to be a fool like Pat Robertson, but aren’t the people who give him money even greater fools?

    (I talked with God this morning, and he told me how much he disliked Pat Robertson. He said Pat was a mistake.)

  22. AMC Jan 14th 2010 at 12:43 pm 22

    So…. God, who is kinder and more just than any human being, is holding people today responsible for a sinful pact with the Devil made years ago, by people who mostly died peacefully in their beds?

    If I understand Robertson’s theory correctly, is he also saying that God is sparing people who, for example, moved to Haiti after the pact with the Devil was entered into? Is He (for some reason, I assume Robertson sees God as a “He”) sparing those who’s parents had no part of the deal with the Devil? Or has He protected those who have been born again in Christ, and have been forgiven by God for the sins of their ancestors?

    Clearly, God would not hold an entire geographic area responsible for the sin commited in the past by a small group of persons, right? A loving God wouldn’t violently kill 100,000 people as an indiscriminant figer-wag at people long dead - would He?

    So, to prove that Rat Pobertson is right - and that he has the direct line to God Almighty - all we have to do is prove that all the good people were spared, and that only those branded with the historical scarlet “D” of Devil Pact-ism were killed by God’s surgical quake.

    Because I know if Albert Einstein, or Mother Teresa, or Ghandi felt compelled to carry out - reluctantly - retalliation for a grievous sin, that’s how they’d do it. And God - by definition - has to be more moral than those human being, stained with Original Sin, right?

    So, let’s get right on that inquiry, shall we? And thereby vindicate Pat.

  23. Scott Jan 14th 2010 at 12:50 pm 23

    To expand on what Derek said, when you are dealing with something which rejects rational examination as illegitimate, and depends on faith in the unknowable (except they claim to know convenient rules that they like) how can you create any sort of test to distinguish Pat from Marjoe or the Pope or Bishop Tutu? We can all say that Pat is a nasty piece of work, but how do we really know that he isn’t closer to God than the others? The proper use of some Bible verses and the ignoring of others can lead to just about any conclusion.

  24. Chris_C Jan 14th 2010 at 01:21 pm 24

    … because he was an insider in the Reagan Administration, and his political movement made the Republican takeover of Congress possible in 1994.

  25. Dro Jan 14th 2010 at 01:42 pm 25

  26. Howabominable (aka Lindsey ^_^) Jan 14th 2010 at 02:14 pm 26

    I don’t get it either. Most of these things he says DIRECTLY CONTRADICT THE BIBLE yet people still look to him as a religious authority. It makes no sense. People need to stop giving him attention since he is clearly off his rocker.

  27. Keera Jan 14th 2010 at 03:30 pm 27

    Wait, Pat R. is saying that the people of Haiti are cursed because they made a deal with the Devil. My understanding of such deals is that the Devil lets you then get away with all kinds of crap. Then the disclaimer says that Pat says the earthquake wasn’t God’s wrath, so obviously God’s not trying to smite the Haitians over the Devil deal thing. So why did they get the earthquake, then, Pat?

    My head hurts. Thank God I’m not Christian.

  28. paperboy Jan 14th 2010 at 04:16 pm 28

    What gets me about “Deals with the Devil” is that while I know people are stupid and short-sighted, why would anyone choose to get what they want for the 90-or so years on Earth in exchange for an eternity of torment in Hell?

  29. Rachael Jan 14th 2010 at 04:44 pm 29

    Don’t feel bad! I’m a big Harry Potter fan and a So-so Twilight fan. I read it as Rob Pattinson too! oops!

  30. Rachael Jan 14th 2010 at 04:45 pm 30

    i feel so stupid…

  31. George P Jan 14th 2010 at 05:47 pm 31

    OK, here’s some background on the “deal with the devil” thing. I am not defending Robertson, but I think he may actually believe it.

    I think it’s safe to assume that Robertson believes that religions that aren’t his own are “devil worship”; after all, if they worship some god that isn’t recognizably his own, and he believes that no other gods exist, then it must be the devil masquerading as a god, right?

    Further I think his is not alone in this. I bet you wouldn’t have to wander too far from home to find people who share this view.

    The Haitian revolution was kicked off by a vodou (voodoo) priest at a late night religious ceremony. Vodou isn’t devil worship; in fact, it borrows heavily from Catholicism.

    But we aren’t dealing with open-minded people here.

    My point is that this comment of his, that the Haitians made a deal with the devil to rid the island of the French, is consistent with his faith. It is not something he pulled out of thin air.

  32. Nicole Jan 14th 2010 at 06:09 pm 32

    In answer to the question posed by Bill: For a long time we, as a nation, show deference to religious beliefs. It didn’t matter what kind of batsh*t crazy stuff came out of a religious leaders mouth, we would just smile and nod, because we were not supposed to question religion. Fortunately that is starting to change as witnessed by the 700 ckubs backpedaling because of the criticism leveled at ‘Dr Robertson’

    AMC #22 — Since the religion is based on the idea that the whole human race is being punished for the sin of Adam and Eve, it makes perfect sense that the Haitians would be punished for the sin of their great grandfathers.

  33. Winter Wallaby Jan 14th 2010 at 06:15 pm 33

    George #31: I don’t think people are disputing that Pat Robertson really believes what he’s saying. I’m sure he also believes that some karate masters get their strength by inhaling demon spirits. But the fact that he really believes what he’s saying is what makes him a raving lunatic.

  34. TonyJazz Jan 14th 2010 at 06:18 pm 34

    “What gets me about “Deals with the Devil” is that while I know people are stupid and short-sighted, why would anyone choose to get what they want for the 90-or so years on Earth in exchange for an eternity of torment in Hell?”

    Maybe it is because, deep in their hearts, they know (as some people do)that Heaven and Hell are about as real as the planet Krypton?

  35. Cidu Bill Jan 14th 2010 at 06:22 pm 35

    TonyJazz, the fallacy in that argument is that making a deal with the Devil pretty much acknowledges and confirms the existence of Heaven and Hell.

  36. paperboy Jan 14th 2010 at 06:24 pm 36

    All religious people are lunatics, but not all of them rave.

  37. Mark M Jan 14th 2010 at 06:28 pm 37

    Count me as one who considers him a raving lunatic. I think the people who consider him “legitimate” are ones who started following him when he maybe was legitimate. And now they just take whatever he says as being correct. Kind of like the hardcore Obama supporters.

  38. Cidu Bill Jan 14th 2010 at 06:34 pm 38

    A White House spokesman’s unusually blunt response to Robertson’s remark: “”It never ceases to amaze me that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that can be so utterly stupid.”

  39. turquoise cow Jan 14th 2010 at 07:33 pm 39

    Even if the Haitian people of however many years ago DID make a deal with the devil, all of those people are now dead (and presumably in Hell, right?) For what reason would God then punish their descendants, who had no control over what their ancestors did? That doesn’t seem like the God I remember learning about.

    Isn’t this the same guy who said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s response to the sin in New Orleans? That at least made a *little* bit of sense. This is complete nonsense.

  40. AMC Jan 14th 2010 at 09:11 pm 40

    Haiti essentially became independent of France in 1804, thanks to the efforts of Toussaint L’ouverture (who made the country Catholic) and after his capture, by his follower Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

    France tried to retake Haiti and reinstitute slavery in 1825, and to preserve its independence, Haiti agreed to pay France for lost slaving profits - 150 Million Francs, later reduced to 90 Million Francs. If you wonder why Haiti is so poor - I believe they finished paying off the debt to France in 1947.

    Even assuming there was a continuing effort to support the deal with the Devil - which ended slavery in Haiti - it ended in 1947 with the last payment to France. Not a lot of folks still alive in Haiti who could have been acting in furtherance of the “Devil Deal” in 1947.

    Nicole - as far as Adam and Eve: Fundamentalists believe we are all descended from them, and carry Original Sin within us because they violated God’s rule and ate from the tree of the knowledge. I don’t know what connection Robertson would argue justifies God’s punishment of aid workers in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, people who’s ancestors had nothing to do with seeking independence from France, and those who did not directly participate in the Devil Deal and who had been born again in Christ. Maybe God killed folks who were just innocently passing through Sodom and Gomorrah, but my recollection is that Abraham asks of God if he would spare the city if fifty righteous people were found in it, then forty-five, then thirty, then twenty or even ten - with God responding that he would not destroy it if there were even 10 righteous people there. The Bible then talks about the angels warning Lot and his family - apparently the only good people - to bug out and not look back. Lot’s wife disobeys and is turned into a pillar of salt, but the rest of the family is saved.

    Is Robertson’s position that being physically located in a country that made some deal with the Devil, at some point between 1800 and 1947, is as bad as demanding to rape angels? (Which is what I gather the Sodomites were asking Lot to allow - and he offered his two virgin daughters in their place.)

    My point is - the Bible, for all its Old Testament retribution, suggest God spared those who were righteous. Pat Robertson, in addition to not knowing his Napoleons, seems to think that something as apparently indiscriminate as an earthquake could be God’s response to a long-past sinful historic event. That seems contrary to scripture, and more in line with “whack job”.

    Here’s a link that takes you to video of him actually saying what he said, pre-spin control:

  41. Nicole Jan 14th 2010 at 09:12 pm 41

    Biblicaly — children, grand children, great grand children and great great grandchildren all bear the sins of the fathers

    # (Exodus 20:5) - “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,”
    # (Deuteronomy 5:9) - “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,”
    # (Exodus 34:6-7) - “Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; 7who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

  42. Nicole Jan 14th 2010 at 09:34 pm 42

    AMC … God is well known for killing innocents in the old testament — two examples jump to mind. In the great flood, clearly children and babies were killed — not to mention all the animals other than the ones on the ark. The second example is in the story of Exodus, god sends the angel of death to kill the first born of Egypt which surely included babies.

    Here is an example of god telling the Israelites to commit genocide to the point of killing all the animals:

    1 Samuel 15:2-3
    Thus saith the LORD of hosts … go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

  43. paperboy Jan 14th 2010 at 10:18 pm 43

    Didja ever think that it’s kinda pathetic for an All-Mighty Be-All and End-All GOD to create other entities (us) mainly so we could tell God how great He is? God got bored? Needed something to do?

  44. Aaron Jan 14th 2010 at 10:19 pm 44

    “Why is Pat Robertson regarded as a legitimate religious leader rather than, you know, a raving lunatic?”
    Prerequisite question: Is Pat Robertson regarded as a legitimate religious leader rather than, you know, a raving lunatic?

    Seeing as I’m Catholic and in my 20’s, maybe I’m just not around members of his demographic. But I don’t know anyone who thinks of him as a legitimate religious leader.

  45. Nicole Jan 14th 2010 at 10:29 pm 45

    PB #43
    This reminds me of this quote from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
    Kirk to ‘God’ -What does God need with a starship?

    I took it to the obvious next step - What does God need with a universe?

  46. Mark in Boston Jan 15th 2010 at 12:28 am 46

    I’m surprised he didn’t say it was the gays and lesbians in Haiti who caused it. After all, (a) it was the gays and lesbians in the U.S. that caused God to strike us on 9/11/01 according to the same Mr. Robertson, and (b) everybody in Haiti has AIDS so they must all be gays and lesbians.

  47. JamesK Jan 15th 2010 at 12:34 am 47

    How does a nation make a deal with the devil? Does it require a vote? Super-majority? Does it just require the president? Does it need to be renewed by each new president, or does it require an act of Congress to disband? Can it be put up to a vote? Do you need to mention your nation’s pact with Satan in the constitution, or at least reference it in your money for it to be official? What happens if you change your country’s name, or merge with a neighbor? Is the pact void? Does it cover the new territory, or does it only apply to the parts of the country originally covered? What if you have a seperatist movement? Who gets contract rights in case of a civil war?

    There’s half a dozen awesome stories tied up in this concept, I need to know these answers!

  48. Keera Jan 15th 2010 at 01:15 am 48

    Here I thought I was hanging out with a bunch of intelligent people, who also are able to respect others with a different point of view, but honestly, going from Pat Robinson’s comment to general religion bashing is not a development that is sitting well with me. It reeks of self-righteous atheism which, in my experience, isn’t a hair better than self-righteous deism. The worst offender so far is paperboy’s comment at #36. Thank you so much for calling me a lunatic, PB.

  49. David N Jan 15th 2010 at 03:24 am 49

    Paperboy’s comment is just as wide-ranging and wrong as Pat Robertson usually is, Keera. Both are allowed to have their opinions, but both don’t have to be taken seriously for it. ;)

    Me, I have no trouble with religions and I have my own beliefs. What I have a beef with it hate-spewers-with-a-smile types like Robertson, who think that he and his “type” are elevated above the rest. And those who are not like him deserve suffering, punishment and death from Above, and even worse, that they asked for it.

    God didn’t strike New Orleans. If He did, He didn’t do a very good job since it’s still there.

  50. paperboy Jan 15th 2010 at 03:28 am 50

    Keera#48- I thought I was dealing with a bunch of comic strip fans (hence I am “Paperboy”, to denote my affinity for the old style of comic strip publication), but you raise deeper issues . I’m sorry if I exuded “self-righteousness”, but I am a former Catholic and The mystery of existence has me stumped; I say again: Any religious person is nuts.

  51. Molly J Jan 15th 2010 at 04:04 am 51

    Nicole, re: #42: except for the fish. Fish must be pretty holy as they would not have perished in the flood.

    No one should be taking this bible book too seriously. It’s filled with legend and allegory which go over most people’s heads, and it has been relentlessly edited and abridged over the years. Using the bible to make a point for argument (and this applies to the religious and the atheistic alike) is like using “something I read on the web” to substantiate a point for argument. Neither is particularly reliable.

  52. mkilby Jan 15th 2010 at 04:42 am 52

    Pat Robertson is not a raving lunatic. He is an ingenious mercenary wretch, issuing preposterous statements solely for the purpose of manipulating the media into giving him more air time. The best way to take the air out of this useless windbag is to ignore him. Just ignore him.

  53. Derek Jan 15th 2010 at 06:12 am 53

    I’m able to respect people with a different point of view but that doesn’t mean a particular point of view is worth respecting. I’m happy that some people’s belief in a magic sky wizard causes them to do good things and appalled that other people’s beliefs in the same (or a different) wizard causes them to commit acts of unspeakable evil, but I think both are equally wrong about the existence of this wizard, and arguing over who has the correct interpretation of said wizard’s intentions is as likely as not to lead to the bad guys winning the argument.
    The way we treat people needs to be based on something more solid than the alleged pronouncements of imaginary dictators.

  54. sigh Jan 15th 2010 at 07:07 am 54

    As a Christian, and unfortunately one who works for PR at Regent Univ., I am embarrassed beyond belief by the guy.

    But, not all Christians believe what he does. Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, has this to say:
    Its a good read, and well worth the time.

  55. Nicole Jan 15th 2010 at 08:33 am 55

    Molly J #52 — I do not consider the bible anything more than the stories and myths of a bronze age people. My posts were in response to the question of how Robertson could reasonably say that a pact with the devil that was made by someones ancestors would cause god to punish their grandchildren with an earthquake, likewise I also pointing out that god does indeed kill innocents in the bible.

    My thoughts on religion in general: Personally I don’t really care what people believe, Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Shiva, Faeries its all ok with me. It’s all ok that is , that is until they either try to make me live by their rules, or their rules cause harm to others. Robertson and his ilk (I don’t often get to use that word) certainly would like to legislate their religion into law. And there certainly are religious practices that are harmful — female genital mutilation comes to mind.

    Sigh #54 — “not all Christians believe what he does” no they don’t but they do provide a platform for the crazies to launch their lunacies on the world. As I pointed out there is biblical justification for what Robertson said and more moderate religious believers are hesitant to call the crazy statements into question because then it could cause their beliefs to come into question.

    I am happy to note that there are religious leaders who are calling out Robertson for his crazy

  56. Nicole Jan 15th 2010 at 10:59 am 56

    Keera #48 — I am not sure how a discussion of Robertson’s statement could not turn to religion as a whole . These kinds of statements are not isolated to Robertson and other fundamental Christians. Recently the pope said that condom use increased the spread of aids, Islam calls for a fatwa on Danish cartoonist and riot. In Israel, there are rabbis who insist that certain bus lines be sexually segregated with the women sitting in the rear of the bus. Not to mention the lesser known preachers of all religions who say crazy things, the parents who do not take their children to hospital for treatment, the Hasidim who attack cars driving through orthodox sections of Jerusalem on the Sabbath, the Muslims that throw acid in the face of women they deem to be improperly dressed. The list of crazy goes on and on … all based on the belief of one holy book or another.

  57. Keera Jan 15th 2010 at 11:19 am 57

    Nicole #56, unfortunately, in such discussions, it seems the only religion(s) people are familiar with are the fundamentalist one(s), probably because these are the ones that get the media attention, and so the discussion ends up being about those, and then some personal opinion gets mixed in and we end up with wording that suggests that anyone who is a deist is similar to the fundamentalists.

    I guess the only ones who know about liberal religions (the kind that will wed gays, for example) are the ones who are actually members and those folks are not a cohesive demographic nor in the habit of being strongly vocal about other groups so they don’t make headlines.

  58. Nicole Jan 15th 2010 at 11:44 am 58

    Keera #57 - I am very aware that there are liberal churches, synagogues and I suppose mosques, and I certainly don’t believe that deist is synonymous with fundamentalist.

    You are correct, the fundamentalists and extremists are the ones who grad the headlines. That is because the news is all about sensationalism … that is why when Pat Robertson says crazy crap like the statement that started this thread, he gets the press. While your religious leader may be saying that you should pray for the people of Haiti and send what aid you can just gets ignored.

    But, to be fair, it would be nice if the more liberal religious institutions spoke out more loudly against the crazies. I would think that the leaders of the Episcopal and other liberal religious organizations had come out with a press release condemning Pat Robertson’s statement they would get coverage. But more often than not these religious organizations stay silent in the media and their silence is read as tacit agreement.

  59. CIDU Bill Jan 15th 2010 at 01:10 pm 59

    Paperboy, that’s not how we play here: you can say just about anything about anything, but personal insults aren’t acceptable.

  60. Molly J Jan 15th 2010 at 01:38 pm 60

    Nicole - my statement about the fish was meant to be tongue in cheek. I didn’t mean to imply that you were a believer in literal biblical interpretation. I think I could guess that about you from the little I know of you here in this forum! :-)

    I really should have made it clearer that the two statements in my post were not related, but that the second paragraph was a change of topic. I can see how that might have caused confusion.

  61. Winter Wallaby Jan 15th 2010 at 02:21 pm 61

    it would be nice if the more liberal religious institutions spoke out more loudly against the crazies.

    Well, I think most religious people are speaking out against Pat Robertson. When religious people on this thread said that Pat Robertson was saying crazy, non-Christian stuff, the atheist response was to say that what Pat Robertson said was consistent with Christianity, and no crazier than any other stuff that Christians believe. Seems like a catch-22. I’m not sure what response atheists are hoping for from Christians. Something like “Yes, Pat Robertson is crazy, but of course no crazier than me, for my crazy liberal Christian beliefs.”?

    Also, as a hard-core atheist, I enjoy a good round of religion-bashing as much as the next guy, but I wonder if a horrible massive tragedy is really the appropriate jumping off point.

  62. Elyrest Jan 15th 2010 at 02:23 pm 62

    Religion is a very divisive. That it is is quite sad because one of the tenets of most religions is community. I was raised Catholic and rejected it is college. Over the years I have “tested” other religions. What was good about all of them was the people. The people could also be what was bad about them too. I’ve found that what most people find lacking in a religion is what is least valuable about a religion - the rules. To me caring about others is what is best about all religions and what is at the core of most of them. To reject religion as a whole without seeing all of it’s parts and it’s value in our world is just as bad as believing blindly.

    Keera - I think your prior evaluation of the community of CIDU commentators is correct.

  63. Cidu Bill Jan 15th 2010 at 03:04 pm 63

    Winter’s right: this can be tricky for Christians — but other Christian leaders have come out against Robertson’s comments. The thing is, fanatical interpretations of Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) doctrine do not reflect most people’s beliefs — and fewer yet react to terrible tragedies by making crazyass speeches.

    I respect my Christian friends’ belief that I’m going to Hell if I don’t accept Jesus, and they show me equal respect by not telling me about it.

  64. paperboy Jan 15th 2010 at 03:31 pm 64

    CIDU Bill#59- You’re right. I was wrong. It won’t happen again.

  65. Keera Jan 15th 2010 at 04:32 pm 65

    Ah, all is right with the world again. Thanks, Bill, and thanks, all! :-)

  66. Nicole Jan 15th 2010 at 06:02 pm 66

    Winter Wallaby #61 - I applaud anyone who speaks out against crazy. However, if you look back at the posts you will see that most of them contain something like “that is not the god I remember learning about” or “not everyone believes the same as Roberston” — Both of these statements imply that Robertson does not know what he is talking about, my points were that his statements are not at all out of line with what the bible says.

    You know … I was going to go into a long diatribe .. but I changed my mind :-)


  67. Eric Jan 16th 2010 at 02:07 am 67

    Of course, depending on who you ask “religious leader” and “raving lunatic” are one and the same. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but it’s food for thought.

  68. Kelex Jan 16th 2010 at 02:57 am 68

    Aaron #44 “Seeing as I’m Catholic and in my 20’s, maybe I’m just not around members of his demographic.”

    I think that IS the case. My parents (Baptists) like him and generally agree with him. My grandparents (also Baptists) watched his show religiously. His primary demographic seems to be Older Protestant Christians.

    Molly J #51 “Fish must be pretty holy as they would not have perished in the flood.”

    Well, I don’t know that much about marine biology, but I think the freshwater fish would have died when all of the oceans’ saltwater mixed in with the lakes and rivers. And the saltwater fish would have died when the freshwater from those lakes rivers (and the 40-day deluge itself) mixed with the oceans.

    I know you were being “tongue in cheek” but still it DOES raise the question: “Did the Ark have an aquarium?”

  69. Keera Jan 16th 2010 at 04:35 am 69

    Eric #67, taking “religious leader” and “raving lunatic” as one and the same leaves us with the problem of how to define people like Martin Luther King jr.

  70. Nicole Jan 16th 2010 at 07:42 am 70

    Eric #67 … of course it can often be religious leaders taking religious leaders as raving lunatics.

    Kelex # 68 - Clearly there would not be enough room for two of every fish in the sea aquarium or not. However, I see a couple of solutions here

    1) only fresh water fish are holy
    2) Since salt water is denser, it would create a layer of salt water at the bottom of the flood waters allowing the fresh water fish to survive at the top and salt water fish at the bottom
    3) All fish are holy and God gave them all the ability to live in the brackish water that resulted from the seas mixing with fresh water form the skies.
    4) The ark, like Dr. Who’s tardis is larger on the inside than it was on the outside allowing for both fresh water and salt water aquariums large enough to accommodate the requisite two of every kind of fish

  71. Nicole Jan 16th 2010 at 01:20 pm 71

    I think John Stewart’s response to Pat Robertson is the best so far … you will have to get through him trashing Rush before he gets to Pat

  72. zbicyclist Jan 16th 2010 at 01:42 pm 72

    Pat Robertson is connected. “Robertson was born in Lexington, Virginia, into a prominent political family. His parents were Absalom Willis Robertson, a conservative Democratic United States Senator, and his wife Gladys Churchill (née Willis).” (from Wikipedia)

    If you are connected, it takes a long time before the rest of the power elite realizes you are a complete *@&!. By then, you are good press copy.

  73. paperboy Jan 16th 2010 at 04:29 pm 73

    Stewart’s complaint is that Robertson didn’t take some “comforting” passages out of the Bible, as if Haiti is harmed or helped by his words. Obviously I’m no fan of his, but if you believe that God is in control, when bad things happen, you’ll have to have some explanation.

  74. Nicole Jan 25th 2010 at 08:44 am 74

    I know this is basically a dead thread, but something recently came to my attention that I was curious about.

    In his speech on 1/14/2010 discussing the Hataian earthquake, President Obama said the following:
    “we stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the south, knowing that but for the grace of God, there we go.”

    Isn’t the president actually saying that god could have prevented this disaster but for some reason chose not to. And while he gives no reason for god’s choice, isn’t this much the same thing as what Pat Robertson said ? What if Pat had said “If it weren’t for the pact with the devil, God would have stopped the earthquake” ?

    If you want to read the whole speech …..

  75. CIDU Bill Jan 25th 2010 at 09:01 am 75

    I interpret “there but for the grace of God” as just the opposite: what happened to them could just as easily have happened to us, but God for His own reasons chose to spare us.

    Robertson is saying that God caused the Haitian earthquake as a deliberate act of vengeance, gives us God’s reason, and suggests that the Haitians deserved what they got.

  76. Nicole Jan 25th 2010 at 09:46 am 76

    Bill –

    The point I am trying to make is that saying that “God spared us” does have implications similar to what Pat Robertson said. To be sure, not exactly the same, but I think that if you think the statement through it does lead you to the conclusion that God is punishing the Haitians

    I think the ‘grace of god’ statement implies that God allowed (or caused) this disaster.. and for (as you say) reasons of his own decided to spare us from a similar disaster.

    But the corollary of God choosing to spare us is that, for reasons unknown to us God chose not to spare the Haitians. While we can’t claim to know the mind of God, I think it would be safe to say that the death, grief and suffering brought on by the earthquake is not a reward… therefore it would not be unreasonable to assume it is punishment of sorts.

  77. Keera Jan 25th 2010 at 12:50 pm 77

    I have always interpreted the statement “There but for the grace of God go I” as “Just dumb luck keeps me from having that person’s fate”, and in that is an understanding that neither I nor the unfortunate person I am comparing myself to have had any say in the matter. I will assume that that is what Obama meant, especially since natural disasters also happen in the US.

  78. Nicole Jan 25th 2010 at 12:58 pm 78

    Keera -

    Of course that is much what the phrase means in popular usage and know that is how Obama used it. I was just trying to point out that if you deconstruct it, taking it for what it says, it has a less benign meaning.

  79. Keera Jan 25th 2010 at 02:09 pm 79

    But, Nicole #78, if the popular usage is what Obama (and Bill and I) mean, why deconstruct it into a curse from God? Isn’t that just looking for trouble where there isn’t any?

  80. CIDU Bill Jan 25th 2010 at 02:50 pm 80

    I think Nicole was, appropriately enough, just playing devil’s advocate.

  81. Elyrest Jan 25th 2010 at 03:16 pm 81

    I think perhaps we should have suspected that Nicole was working for the devil before this.

  82. Nicole Jan 25th 2010 at 05:25 pm 82

    Elyrest #81 — as someone else far more eloquent than pointed out, the devil takes care of his own — I would be MUCH richer, MUCH younger and MUCH thinner if I worked for the devil :-P

    Bill is of course right, the whole Pat Robertson debacle got me thinking about how people use God in tragedies such as this … miracles, god spare him (us) etc and I just got to thinking what was the real meaning of some of those phrases. This seemed like a good place to ask the question

  83. Lola Jan 25th 2010 at 09:54 pm 83

    Nooooooo Nicole, don’t back down. You had it right the first time. Same coin, flip side. It’s just as arbitrary. It’s no different than Caligula in the coliseum with his arm out pausing for dramatic effect for everyone to see whether his thumb rotates up or down. I know it’s a saying, but it’s an insult to those who aren’t “graced” because, obviously, god doesn’t care diddly about them.

  84. Nicole Jan 25th 2010 at 10:57 pm 84

    Lola — relax - LOL

    I stand by everything I said .. I just recognize that people … including the president … don’t understand the full ramifications of statements such as these :-D

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