Heartless about Haiti (part 1)

Pat Robertson added yet another cringe-worthy contribution to public theology conversations. Haiti’s troubles, he said, are due to the pact they made with the devil as they fought for their freedom against Napoleonic France.

First off, no amount of denouncing Pat Robertson will be enough to either a) get news folks to realize he doesn’t speak for Evangelicals, let alone Christians in general and b) to get those who don’t like Christians to use his words as an example of how Christians hate.

I think Robertson may have been a faithful leader at some point, but he’s long drifted into being a hack corrupted by his own perverse search for power and wealth. He’s the Evangelical Jesse Jackson.

Theologically, I think there is something to be found in the idea that participation with evil spirituality does bring consequences. This isn’t just for those with deals with the devil. It also applies to those who have deals with God. In the OT, remember, Israel is never exempt from God’s punishment. They are called to walk with God, and when they veered outside his bounds for too long, well they got blasted again and again for it. The various power grabs and distractions throughout church history can be seen to have consequences. Indeed, it seems that those who claim God’s authority are expected to live up to God’s call in their lives.

Haiti’s long connection with voodoo and strong spirituality with a turn away from orthodox Christianity leads to an acknowledgment that negative spirituality has consequences.

Yet, in understanding there are consequences to such infatuation with evil, and willful engagement with very questionable spiritual forces, does not mean that we then have the right to judge, or condemn.

Jesus turned his anger to the religious leaders of his day, after all. He, again and again, showed compassion for those who faced the consequences of evil. He again and again helped the poor, the sick, those caught up in horrendous consequences.

So, however we want to debate the issue of old pacts, or present spiritualities, that doesn’t really affect how we are called to respond to disasters like this. We are called to help. To pray for them. To suggest that the power of God can overcome all evil, that pacts with the devil mean nothing in the face of grace. We are called to show light in this present darkness and give good news to those who now are flooded with absolute misery–good news that isn’t rhetorical but involves real help, real assistance, real and palpable aid.

I think of Luke 13:1-5 here.

Are the Haitians sinners? Yeah. Are we? Yeah. We’re all in need of grace, because we all are equals in our pacts and mistakes. If the Haitians somehow “deserved” this because of some pact, so do we all. So does Pat Robertson, and no doubt he’ll be reminded of this fact, probably before too long.

The Christian response is not to condemn Haiti in the midst of their horrible suffering. The Christian response is to pray for them, to reach out to them in their suffering, to do what we can in practical ways.

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