Haiti and Pat Robertson

Haiti is plastered all over the news at the moment, and for good reason. At least 150,ooo dead, with an estimated 1.5 million left homeless by the 7.0 magnitude quake. In the meantime the delivery of aid has been hampered by the country’s shattered infrastructure and extensive  looting.

Many of us unfamiliar with Haiti and its history are asking why the suffering is as bad as it is. One man unfamiliar with this history, and it seems unfamiliar with much of reality, is Mr Pat Robertson. A televangelist from the US, Mr Robertson explained to his television audience that the plight of those in the island is a result of them being “cursed” for signing a pact with the devil. Check out the link for the whole story.

I’m sorry Mr Robertson, but your theology is that of a five-year old, and your lunatic ravings can be classified as anything but Good News. If this was a one-off occurrence I’d put it down to bad discipleship, but you’ve consistently revealed yourself to be a class-A clown.  This is cheap Spirituality at its worst, and Mr Robertson’s  ‘faith’ in Jesus is so far removed from the foot-washing carpenter I know and love that I wonder if we have even been reading the same book. My bafflement and outrage is shared by many, including my friend Jarrod McKenna here who blogs for Sojourners. Be warned.. his is a fiery, but moving, response.

A country born of slavery and revolution, Haiti has struggled with centuries of enslavement, crippling debt, exploitation, corruption and violence. When you look at how Haiti has been shoved around for so long, its no wonder things are in such a mess. If this is the result of a pact with the Devil, we only have the Devil of colonial greed, racism and exploitation to blame.

If Jesus were to give a news interview now on what is happening in Haiti, what kind things do you think he would say? What would he ask of us? How would He be seeking to transform and heal the situation?
For me at least, there are at least three questions He would ask of us:

  • Why are the people of Haiti suffering so much?
  • How do we help them?
  • How do we stop this from ever happening again.. here, and anywhere else?

For the first question… well.. we in the general public love to point the finger at people like Mr Robertson. ‘What a jerk’ we say. ‘I’m nothing like him’. But having such extremists clogging up the airwaves with their antics can distract us from the real issues that are just too hard to confront.. how are we, or at least the nation states we belong to,  indirectly complicit in the suffering of Haiti’s people due to our collective amnesia over both historical and current injustices?

Secondly, if you haven’t already, donate to an agency in the field. Then start thinking long term. Read a bit about Haiti’s history here. Sign a global petition for the eradication of Haiti’s unjust debts here. Then do some research on debt cancellation in the third world and watch your jaw drop…

Thirdly.. well, this is our hope in Jesus.. that through his reconciling love and light we can take a good, hard look at ourselves, our personal failings and our societal sins, and work towards reconciliation and reparation. As Martin Luther King once famously said,

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved.”

It will be a hard slog, but I can’t think of a more worthwhile cause.

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~ by humblemonkey on January 27, 2010.

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