The disaster in Haiti is bringing out the best and worst in many of us. When I first heard of the earthquake centered near Port Au Prince I was saddened because of the human disaster and also because it befell the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.
For those that don’t know the history (many do not) Haiti is the site of the only successful slave revolt in history. And they have been punished ever since. What was once a center of the very evil slave trade perpetrated by nations who remain in a position of power in the world today is now a struggling nation largely dismissed and terribly misunderstood in the world today.
The response by President Obama and many aid agencies are examples of what I was raised to believe are “Christian” values. However when I learned of Pat Robertson’s assertion that this is a nation who made a “deal with the devil” to get the French out of Haiti and that this disaster is God’s punishment I was reminded of the very un-Christian attitudes that exist in the world today.
Robertson’s assertion that this nation made a “deal with the devil” is based on his own analysis and not on anything which might be deemed to be objective fact. This is an example of “bearing false witness” (a sin if I recall). It is a form of hate speech and it is being spoken by a man who is taken by many to be representative of “Christianity”. If this is Christianity then I want no part of it.
A pastor in Arizona, Pastor Steven Anderson, has asserted that he is praying for President Obama to get brain cancer like Ted Kennedy and urging his followers to do the same. Again this is a perversion of “Christian” values and and example of hate speech.
As I recall from my school days Jesus preached love, not hate and urged his followers to love others as you love yourself. In fact Christianity was at its inception and for many years following a radical religion which sought to spread love and charity in contrast to the fascist and inhumane regime of the Roman Empire.
However the many years of Christianity’s development has seen horrible examples of persecution, torture, murder and theft all “in the name of the Lord”. But actually these were simply power, money and property grabbing strategies to fatten the pocketbooks of those in power and strategies to consolidate that power.
Christians supported the Inquisition, witch trials, the Crusades, etc. while maintaining that they were acting with the backing of their deity. Christians kept slaves, killed those of other religions and did many things which made their lives richer and more comfortable while creating suffering and pain all in the name of their God.
I am reminded of the comment of Ghandi when he said (and I am paraphrasing now) I like the Christian religion but not how it is practiced. And I remember being taught the phrase, “by your deeds shall you be known” and the song verse, “and they’ll know we’re Christians by our love.” And I also remember the “kill a queer for Christ” stickers and the “Thank God for AIDS” bumper sticker.
So I have to ask the question: Would Jesus recognize these so called Christians? And wouldn’t the Old Testament God be moved to strike them down for their venomous hatred?
I can only hope that, if there is a God in the form proposed by evangelical “Christians” like Robertson’s ilk, He will find time to punish them. But in actuality the Christian teachings with which I was raised suggests that He would take even these heinous creatures and find a way to love them and teach them. And as difficult as that seems to me it is representative of the teachings as I understand them.
I think that the practice of Christianity has become all to easy resulting in a complacency and a self-righteous attitude making it very easy to perpetrate hate speech and hateful actions. And while I know that this is not the attitude of all Christians I do know that it is the high profile attitude which taints the very essence of what was once and could be again a truly humane religion.