A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Devil and Pat Robertson

The recent earthquake in Haiti has had a number of repercussions throughout the world. First, in Haiti itself, there has been horrendous loss of life and destruction; the latest estimates are that over 100,000 are dead. Many nations are preparing to help with any rescue efforts which will alleviate the suffering.

Many experts see this disaster as an opportunity for Haiti to rebuild its infrastructure and prevent massive destruction from happening in the future. Then there is the case of one American commentator whose statements on the disaster could — and should — embarrass anyone who considers themselves a Christian.

On his 700 Club television show, televangelist Pat Robertson noted the earthquake before giving a short history of how Haiti gained its independence from the French in the 1790s. It was an interesting historical footnote which involved — in his telling of it — voodoo and Satan. He finished his little anecdote with the words, “True story,” and many who heard it insisted that he implied that there was connection between Haiti’s deal with the devil and the earthquake.

Maybe he did or did not mean to imply that the earthquake was God’s way of punishing the people of Haiti. Perhaps he just recounted the history lesson to fill some time on his show. In any event, the placement of this historical tale in the context of the earthquake story did not seem appropriate.

Let’s get this straight: the people of Haiti are suffering the worst in a long running series of natural disasters; thousands are dead, many more will probably die, and thousands are still buried in the debris. Then some wise guy Christian leader throws the devil in their face? Way to kick the people when they’re down and out, rev! Shouldn’t you as a Christian be comforting them in their time of need? You may think you have a valid point of view, but your timing sucks!

Furthermore, we should differentiate between Robertson’s concept of the truth and historical accuracy in his “true story”. As a religious scholar and leader, Robertson believes every word of scripture as fact. That is his right and prerogative. On the other hand, historians need solid proof of an event happening before they will agree that it actually did happen. In their research, historians will deal with primary sources and secondary sources.

In this case, a primary source could include, among other things, the actual paper contract between the Haitian leaders of the revolt against France and Satan, signed by Beelzebub himself. Oh, let’s not forget: this would have to be a wet signature. No photocopies or faxes are acceptable as a primary source. Historians work under very strict rules.

A secondary source could include, among other things, a newspaper account of the deal or even a story about the signing ceremony itself. I haven’t researched this incident extensively, but I believe that neither a contract nor any journalistic pieces have yet surfaced. With this in mind, I’m inclined to see the Haiti/Satan story as a legend and chalk up Haiti’s troubles to extremely bad luck, terrible government, and location, location, location.

In any case, relief is pouring into Haiti and Robertson has crawled back into the woodwork of his own media empire. Still, there is a silver lining to this whole episode which has restored my faith in the existence of a superior being. Someone has offered a voodoo doll version of Pat Robertson for sale on Ebay.

Yes, there is a God after all!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to help the people of Haiti wherever and whenever you can.)


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