First of all, let me say I’m not a big fan of Pat Robertson.
His theology is a little too experiential for me, and his ego a little too large. I’ve met the man and I have friends who have worked for him. He insists on a level of loyalty I find frightening. And when I had the opportunity to work for him once I decided not to.
That’s not to say he hasn’t done anything good or important. The university he founded, for example, is the source of much thoughtful, Christian scholarship. I just don’t look to him for leadership.
His thoughts about Haiti may have been misconstrued, however. I understand the media may do this. In fact I expect it. It’s easy to find what one conservative says and let that represent what all conservatives think. I resent the stereotype and the over simplification.
But in this case Robertson didn’t actually say that God sent an earthquake to Haiti because they made a pack with the devil. He suggested they made a pact with the devil, which they did, and that this had resulted in deep poverty. He hoped that in this tragedy they might turn to God, which any thinking Christian might also hope.
Here is what he actually said:
Ever since [the pact with the devil], they have been cursed by one thing after another, desperately poor.…. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God, that out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic that something good may come. But right now we’re helping the suffering people, and the suffering is almost unimaginable.
You can see the video here.
He referred to a historical event and said it resulted in deep poverty. Voodoo, with its fatalism and spiritualism, is in fact culturally pervasive in Haiti. Many thoughtful people would agree that it contributes to their impoverishment.
But Robertson says he is optimistic something good could come out of the current situation, encouraging Christians to pray and acknowledging the suffering, while raising $2 million in relief funds.
And so the media piles on. In an interview with the Haitian ambassador, who twice referred to Haiti’s “pack with the devil” as having positive consequences for the U.S., Rachel Madden says Robertson is “an unintended consequence of the First Amendment.”
But Christians are piling on to.
Many of them point to a post by Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz. Miller, who “doesn’t want to debate the theological implications of Robertson’s statement” because he likes to “speak of faith the way I speak of personal matters.” He says he “pities” Robertson for trying to show us how “tough” he is.
I suppose you should judge for yourself.
But while I might find Robertson’s timing off or wish he was more empathetic or wish the media didn’t assume I shared every aspect of his theology (see my views here), it would be hard for me to describe his tone or demeanor in this video as “tough.” Or condescending or judgmental or any of a number of things he is being accused of.
Miller pities Robertson.
I pity us all.