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"God is ultimately responsible for the earthquake in Haiti and has a reason that is beyond our ability, trapped in time, to understand or comprehend. But it would be theological ignorance coupled with absolute arrogance to try and interpret God's actions as a judgment against a particular person or nation." -- Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, for Newsweek.
"Nevertheless, one thing I do know: The Christianity of Robertson and those who are quick to blame tragedy on some angry, vengeful God is a Christianity which I, following Hatuey's lead, reject and want no part of whatsoever." -- Miguel A. De La Torre, director of the Justice & Peace Institute and associate professor of social ethics at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, for the website EthicsDaily.com.
And now to the pop cultural side of the response, and Stewart on The Daily Show:"The alleged 1791 Haitian pact with the devil would put our Father on the side of slavery and Satan on the side of those seeking freedom. The reverse is actually the case. Satan is a "murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44), a thief who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10) and seeks to make us "slaves to sin" (Rom. 6:17). Satan enslaves. God liberates." -- Jim Denison, president of the Center for Informed Faith and theologian-in-residence for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, from the first of three special opinion pieces about this topic he's writing for the Associated Baptist Press.
"Out of all the things you could draw on from your religion to bring comfort to a devastated people and region? Look how big your book is! 'The Lord is close to the broken hearted. He rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee. From the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.'
"That almost sounds like it's about a f**** earthquake!"
Within what we media types generally call the conservative side of Christianity, Robertson's comments prompted a lot of pushback. Ryan Messmore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, was willing to speculate about that phenomenon:"Many people value religion and feel compelled to 'set the record straight' when Robertson speaks this way. This does strongly suggest that religion is a very important thing to many Americans. The Pew data certainly support this view: the importance of religion remains high even as American religion changes as regard to the specifics. In the case of Haiti, much of the relief effort is religiously inspired and conducted by religious people -- precisely because their faith instructs them to do. Defending faith in general as a legitimate enterprise is crucial to many people."
When you go to the doctor for a checkup, she'll probably poke at you and ask "Does that hurt?" If it does, the doc knows there may be something important going on there."One dynamic that I've been tracking over the past year or two is the reaction by young evangelicals against a certain perception of their parents' Religious Right which they see summed up in and embodied by Robertson. Last year I sat down with different groups of college students and recent grads and listened to their thoughts about culture, politics, etc. Many of them seem to have intuitions that would align with some of Robertson's stances (for instance, they are very pro-life, perhaps even more so than their parents' generation). "
"However, they do not want to self-identify with Robertson or the larger 'Religious Right' movement that he represents. They are turned off by partisan political bickering, and they reject what they perceive as a narrow interest in only a couple moral issues -- namely abortion and gay marriage -- to the exclusion of issues like poverty, homelessness, human trafficking, etc. Comments by Robertson that seem morally judgmental and appear to lack compassion (although he did call for people to send aid to Haiti) only play into this perception."
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