Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And the Pat Robertson Disaster Prevention Award goes to...

... Pastor David Yonggi Cho of Yoido Full Gospel Church for wondering aloud if the Tohoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami and nuclear disaster were not a warning from God:
In an interview the newspaper, Cho responded to a request for comments on Japan’s difficulties following its largest earthquake in recorded history by saying, “Japan sees a lot of earthquakes, and I think it is regrettable that there has been such an enormous loss of property and life due to the earthquake.” He went on to say, “Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God’s warning to them.”

“I hope that this catastrophe can be turned into a blessing and they take this opportunity to return to the Lord,” he added.
And our runner-up, who will step in and perform Parson Cho's duties if he is unable to serve out his term, is no other than Fox News commentator Glenn Beck:
On his first day back from vacation, Glenn Beck addressed the earthquake in Japan, and said he thinks that it could be a "message [is] being sent" by God.

Speaking on his radio show Monday, Beck said, "I'm not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes," before quickly adding, "I'm not not saying that either."

He then said that whatever one called God, "there's a message being sent. And that is, 'Hey, you know that stuff we're doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.' I'm just saying."
No doubt God is listening right now, and well, let's just say I wouldn't stand to close to either of these mooks if I was you. I'm just saying.

The Pat Robertson Award is the namesake of televangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson, who in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 said that New Orleans was struck because God was punishing Americans for their ungodliness.

He managed to win his own award last year for saying something similar after the earthquake that struck Haiti and killed a quarter million people:
Robertson, the host of the "700 Club," blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it."

The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "
The "700 Club," by the way, gets its name from the combined IQ of its regular viewers. True story.


  1. Lest we be tempted to condemn Pastor Cho to harshly, "a follower of Buddhism and Shinto," religions still revered in the West, has weighed in — Tokyo mayor: Tsunami was “divine punishment”.

    "The identity of the Japanese people is selfishness. The Japanese people must take advantage of this tsunami as means of washing away their selfish greed. I really do think this is divine punishment."

  2. I agree completely that those comments you report are in very bad taste and wholly unwarranted.


    What status does that then leave Biblical warnings (and those of other Traditions) of pestilence, divine retribution etc. etc.? Which I think might appropriately be appreciated in a symbolic sense as warnings against human hubris leading to an alienation from the spiritual order, which is then reflected in a deep alienation from nature, that inevitably culminates in natural disasters...

    ...just flying a kite in a violent thunderstorm... and with absolutely no disrespect intended to Japan and the Japanese...

    I find Shinto shrines to be places of manifest calm, and natural harmony. But modern society - at least here in Korea - is aggressively alienating itself from nature; and the sense of the Sacred has been badly neglected, if not lost...

    One might also subsume the tragedy of earthquake and tsunami in the Buddha's admonition that all existence is suffering; that all human achievements are illusory and get swept away in the cosmic tides of time and eternity...

    My deep sympathy to those suffering souls, may they regain peace.

  3. (I'll take the risk of being condemned by the overly spiritual)but... it really exposes humanity's primitive mentality when we attribute such natural disasters to religious signs/warnings.

  4. (In my opinion) LastnameKim makes precisely the same error of judgement as the ill-advised Pastor - in taking literally religious injunctions that are rather intended as symbolic truths. Hence the loss of metaphysical lucidity and transparency to the modern world, where the immediate and temporal can no longer be seen in its proper perspective, that is sub specie aeternitatis.

    And hence our unbalanced world of pollution, climate change, and mass extinction.

  5. Even for the most hardcore bible believer (which these guys pretend to be), it's downright stupid to attribute any of this to God. As any former Sunday school kid can tell you, after the floods, God made a pact with Noah that he would never bring worldwide catastrophe on the Earth and more importantly he would never be angry with his people again. So did these guys never read the bible, or are they calling their God a liar? Either way, I don't see how they can keep credibility.

  6. Robert, you lost me at "metaphysical lucidity" and "aeternitatis".
    But seriously, I didn't say humans don't have a hand in their own destiny and place in the balance of nature (ie- modern cities and building nuclear power plants). But what of natural disasters such as earthquakes? You may say this is a result of the imbalance in our environment (I'm totally interpreting your rhetoric pretty freely here) but my comments were more directed at the religious concept of punishment and sin. This is different from your spiritual take.


Share your thoughts, but please be kind and respectful. My mom reads this blog.