by Perry Bulwer
Love on their lips, hate in their hearts.
Have you heard the latest utterings by that theistic idiot, Pat Robertson, the evangelical fundamentalist and false prophet who infamously claimed that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was God's punishment in response to America's abortion policy? Well, he's back at it again, this time claiming that a "pact to the devil" brought on the devastating earthquake in Haiti. He claims that the Haitians got together a couple hundred years ago and said to the Devil, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French”, to which, according to Roberson, the Devil replied, “OK, it's a deal." Incredibly, Robertson adds, with a straight face, “True story.”
First, let's deal with that “true story” claim, leaving aside the preposterous notion that Robertson somehow has special access to a conversation a fictional character, Satan, had 200 years ago. Robertson tries to give his comments credibility by setting them in historical context. The only problem is that he gets his history all wrong. For example, he says the Haitian's revolted against French rule under Napolean III, which is about 50 years off since the Haitian Revolution occurred under Napolean Bonaparte's rule, not his nephew's.
The Haitian Revolution occurred as a natural consequence of the French Revolution. That revolution had resulted in a decree freeing all the slaves in Haiti, but Bonaparte tried to re-enslave them in 1802. Ex-slaves tend not to like that kind of thing, and so they successfully revolted against their colonial rulers (without any help from the Devil), the only New World slave-led revolt that ever achieved permanent freedom. In fact, many think that the Haitian Revolution was carried out under the ideals and values of the French Revolution, which in turn was inspired by the American Revolution. Does Robertson also think that the French and Americans made a pact with the Devil to free themselves from despotic rule, or does he just apply such nonsensical dogma to black people?
The Haitian ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, responded to Robertson's ignorant comments when interviewed on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. After watching the video of Robertson, the ambassador said:
"I would like the whole world to know -- America especially -- that the independence of Haiti, when the slave rose up against the French and defeated the French army -- powerful army -- the U.S. was able to gain the Louisiana territory for $15 million. That's 3 cents an acre. That's 13 states west of the Mississippi that the Haitian slave revolt in Haiti provided," explained Joseph.
"Also the revolt of the rebels in Haiti allowed Latin America to be free," Joseph continued.
"So, what pact the Haitian made with the devil has helped the United States become what it is," he said.
Racism is the not so subtle sub-text to Robertson's comments, which will find approving like-minds in the evangelical Christian fundamentalist community. I will comment here on just one of those communities, The Family International, the cult formerly known as the Children of God. The leaders of that cult, Karen Zerby and Steve Kelly, issued a press release to announce that they are praying for the people of Haiti. A lot of good that will do Haitians. Why do those cult leaders feel it is necessary to issue a press release merely to tell the world that they are praying? At least with Robertson's overt bigotry you know where you stand, but with deceptive cult leaders one never quite knows. However, given what this cult believes about Haitians, this appears to be just a public relations ploy. There is love on their lips, but hate in their hearts. Following are some quotations by David Berg, the deceased founder of that cult, taken directly from their own publications:
THAT'S WHY HAITI IS ALL BLACK NOW with hardly a white left! The Blacks rose up and massacred every Frenchman on the Island--men, women and children. Strange Bedfellows - November 1977
SO AFTER THE FIRST STRIKE THAT KNOCKS THE U.S. OUT & INTO TOTAL CHAOS so that she'll not be able to defend or help her neighbours any, the Blacks of the Caribbean will rise up against their White masters & overcome them, maybe even wipe them out like Haiti once did to the French. It's now a Black hell hole of the Caribbean, almost totally ruled by the Devil. Before & After The War - November 1981
Belize is a little colony of Blacks, ex-slaves, to which, by the way, the U.S. is trying to send a whole bunch of Haitians it doesn't want! And the Belizians are furious because they are intelligent British-educated Negroes who speak English!--And those Haitians are the worst & the lowest, poorest & almost most violent criminal type of elements of French-speaking poor Blacks from Haiti that nobody wants at all!
HAITI IS HELL ON EARTH! That country is ruled by a demon-possessed dictator, first him & now his son, & things are so bad in Haiti that the Haitians are almost willing to swim from Haiti to almost anywhere to get out of the place! The dear Dominican Republic has to keep most of its army right on its border to keep the Haitians from flooding into Dominica! The Dominicans are almost entirely Spanish & not Black. There's a mixture, but they're predominantly Spanish. War in the Americas - July 1983
What can you expect from a country where the vast majority of the people worship Satan? Although Catholicism is the official religion, in practice the majority of the Haitian people follow Voodooism & African religions. So what do you expect God to let them have? If they want the Devil, if they want his way, He'll let them have the Devil! Views On The News - compiled September 1994
Clinton is making the biggest mess of things I ever saw! He doesn't know what to do with the Haitians, he doesn't know what to do with the Cubans. He doesn't do any of the right things. Well, if the Americans are going to go in and invade Haiti, which it looks like they're planning, let's hope it's for the betterment of the Haitians, because right now the Haitians are in a terrible state, living in abject poverty, filth and sewage, horrible!--And they have brought it on themselves, because they worship the Devil.
The most practiced religion in Haiti is voodoo, which is witchcraft and Devil worship!--Although the "official" religion of Haiti is Catholicism, to make them appear more acceptable to the outside World, no doubt. Many Haitians have been devils and demons ever since they slaughtered and murdered every white person on their side of the island. In the early 1800s, they spent one week killing every French man, woman and baby, and wiped out the Whites!
(Note: The Washington Post recently reported: Haiti's founding father was an unschooled slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture, whose military genius came to rival that of Napoleon. Yet Haitians have always embraced with greater fervor L'Ouverture's successor, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, whose idea of amusement was skinning and roasting his victims alive. Dessalines, who seized power in 1804, particularly relished massacring whites. It was his secretary who said that writing the nation's declaration of independence properly would require "the skin of a white man for parchment, his skull as an inkhorn, his blood for ink and a bayonet for a pen." Haiti's national anthem is "La Dessalienne."
(While every nation has its horror stories, even an oversimplified tour through Haitian history confronts one with more than the usual catalogue of nightmares. When Haiti began struggling for its independence in the 1790s and early 1800s, so widespread were the atrocities that roads were routinely hedged with bodiless heads. Whites, Blacks and Mulattoes fought each other savagely. When Dessalines took power, he massacred every white he could find on the island. Dessalines evicted the French, proclaimed himself emperor of an independent Haiti, and set about tyrannizing his people with the whip and bayonet. He was ambushed and shot to death in 1806, but Haiti's leaders have largely marched to his spirit ever since.)
The U.S. is not going to establish democracy in Haiti now any more than they did during the 19 years that they occupied Haiti before (from 1915-1934)! They will never have democracy in that evil country! Views On The News - compiled November 1994
Speaking of crazy things and crazy people, did you know that Haiti made voodoo an official religion, on a par with any other religion? President Aristide, a former Catholic priest, issued an official decree that voodoo is "an essential part of Haiti's national identity!" You really wonder how a priest, of all people, could do such a thing! He must know that voodoo is just full of evil spirits, witchcraft, demon possession, and all sorts of vile filthiness! I always did wonder about that man's state of mind, not to mention his spirituality!
Frankly, I think he's just struck a deal with the Devil. He's been unpopular with his countrymen for some time now, the international community has cut off its aid, and poverty and problems have been spiraling out of control, to the point that people are saying it was better under Duvalier and their past dictatorships. So Aristide has done something that he thinks will make him more popular with the people, probably in some sort of compact with the Evil One that "if you let me stay in power, I'll make it easier for your evil spirits to be worshipped." Ugh!
The voodoo priests are rejoicing, of course, saying that their religion has been "misunderstood, despised and persecuted" for too long, especially by Christianity. Well, they've been despised because Christians have understood them only too well! Voodoo is a religion where people worship and call up the evil spirits, ask favors of them, and come under possession and oppression by them! It's demonic, and is one of the main reasons that Haiti has continued to be such a black pit of iniquity with so many problems! That's what happens when you let the Enemy and his evil spirits have so much sway and control over a country! God bless and help all the good Christians and missionaries there who try to shed the light of God's Spirit in that dark place!The Endtime News Digest- June 2003
The quotations above are in chronological order. David Berg, the so-called Love Prophet goes further than Robertson's "deal with the devil" comments by demonizing Haitians, calling them actual demons and devils. And his knowledge of history is even less than Robertson's, if that's possible. For example, he rants about every white person in Haiti being killed by the revolutionaries, which isn't true, but not once does he mention that black people were also massacred. It is estimated that four times as many black people died as white people in the revolution, but you would never know that from Berg's 'history' lessons.
Notice also that all of the quotations attributed to Berg, except for the last set, are dated up to 1994, the year that Berg died. The final set of quotations comes from a publication dated 2003. After Berg's death the current leaders continued to issue publications that supposedly contained Berg's words from heaven. A note under the title of that publication states: Messages from Jesus or Dad are denoted by bold type. Dad refers to Berg. That set of quotations appeared under the sub-heading, Ask Dad! - No.17, so there is no mistaking the implication. Those words are purported to be the actual words of Berg, received from heaven through prophesy. So, nine years after Berg's death, his distorted history and racist bigotry as it relates to Haiti continued to be used to inculcute dogmatic hate. Now that's not something you are ever likely to read in a press release by The Family International, or hear from their lying lips.
New York Times - January 23, 2010
Between God and a Hard Place
By JAMES WOOD | Op-Ed Contributor
In the 18th century, the genre of “earthquake sermon” was good business. Two small shocks in London, in 1750, sent the preachers to their pulpits and pamphlets. The bishop of London blamed Londoners’ lewd behavior; the bishop of Oxford argued that God had woven into his grand design certain incidents to alarm us and shake us out of our sin. In Bloomsbury, the Rev. Dr. William Stukeley preached that earthquakes are favored by God as the ultimate sign of his wrathful intervention.
Five years later, when Lisbon was all but demolished by an enormous earthquake, the unholy refrain was heard again — one preacher even argued that the people of Lisbon had been relatively fortunate, for God had spared more people than he had killed. It was the Lisbon earthquake that prompted Voltaire to attack Leibniz’s metaphysical optimism, in which all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Theodicy, which is the justification of God’s good government of the world in the face of evil and pain, was suddenly harder to practice. But the preachers kept at it. “There is no divine visitation which is likely to have so general an influence upon sinners as an earthquake,” wrote the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, in 1777.
Have we made much of an advance on this appalling discourse? Our own earthquake-sermonizer, the evangelist Pat Robertson, delivered an instantly notorious defense of the calamity in Haiti. This was classic theodicy. First, good comes out of such suffering. This event, said Mr. Robertson, is “a blessing in disguise,” because it might generate a huge rebuilding program. Second, the Haitians deserve the suffering. According to Mr. Robertson, when the Haitians were throwing off the tyranny of the French, they “swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘we will serve you if you will get us free from the French’ ... so the Devil said ‘O.K., it’s a deal.’ and they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free but ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.” The Dominican Republic, he said, had done quite well, and had lots of tourist resorts, and that kind of thing. But not Haiti.
This repellent cruelty manages the extraordinary trick of combining hellfire evangelism with neo-colonialist complacency, in which the Haitians are blamed not only for their sinfulness but also for the hubris of their political rebellion. Eighteenth-century preachers at least tended to include themselves in the charge of general sinfulness and God’s inevitable reckoning; Mr. Robertson sounds rather pleased with his own outwitting of such reckoning, as if the convenient blessing of being a God-fearing American has saved him from such pestilence. He is presumably on the other side of the sin-line, safe in some Dominican resort.
We should expect nothing less from the man who blamed legal abortion for Hurricane Katrina. But even when intentions are the opposite of Mr. Robertson’s, and in a completely secular context, theological language has a way of hanging around earthquakes. In his speech after the catastrophe, President Obama movingly invoked “our common humanity,” and said that “we stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the south, knowing that but for the grace of God, there we go.” And there was God once again. Awkwardly, the literal meaning of Mr. Obama’s phrase is not so far from Pat Robertson’s hatefulness. Who, after all, would want to worship the kind of God whose “grace” protects Americans from Haitian horrors?
The president was merely uttering an idiomatic version of the kind of thing you hear from survivors whenever a disaster strikes: “God must have been watching out for me; it’s a miracle I survived,” whereby those who died were presumably not being “watched out for.” That President Obama did not really mean this — he clearly did not — is telling, insofar as it suggests how the theological language of punishment and mercy lives on unconsciously, well after the actual theology has been discarded.
Or has it? If the president simply meant that most of us have been — so far — luckier than Haitians, why didn’t he say that? Perhaps because, as a Christian, he does not want to believe that he subscribes to such a nonprovidential category as luck, or to the turn of fate’s wheel, which is really a pagan notion. Besides, to talk of luck, or fortune, in the face of a disaster seems flippant, and belittling to those who have been savaged by such bad luck. A toothache is bad luck; an earthquake is somehow theological.
The only people who would seem to have the right to invoke God at the moment are the Haitians themselves, who beseech his help amidst dreadful pain. They, too, alas, appear to wander the wasteland of theodicy. News reports have described some Haitians giving voice to a worldview uncomfortably close to Pat Robertson’s, in which a vengeful God has been meting out justified retribution: “I blame man. God gave us nature, and we Haitians, and our governments, abused the land. You cannot get away without consequences,” one man told The Times last week.
Others sound like a more frankly theological President Obama: a 27-year-old survivor, Mondésir Raymone, was quoted thus: “We have survived by the grace of God.” Bishop Éric Toussaint, standing near his damaged cathedral, said something similar: “Why give thanks to God? Because we are here. What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now.” A survivor’s gratitude is combined with theological fatalism. This response is entirely understandable, uttered in a ruined landscape beyond the experience of most of us, and a likely source of pastoral comfort to the bishop’s desperate flock. But that should not obscure the fact that it is little more than a piece of helpless mystification, a contradictory cry of optimistic despair.
Terrible catastrophes inevitably encourage appeals to God. We who are, at present, unfairly luckier, whether believers or not, might reflect on the almost invariably uncharitable history of theodicy, and on the reality that in this context no invocation of God beyond a desperate appeal for help makes much theological sense. For either God is punitive and interventionist (the Robertson view), or as capricious as nature and so absent as to be effectively nonexistent (the Obama view). Unfortunately, the Bible, which frequently uses God’s power over earth and seas as the sign of his majesty and intervening power, supports the first view; and the history of humanity’s lonely suffering decisively suggests the second.
James Wood, the author of the novel “The Book Against God,” is a staff writer at The New Yorker.
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