When Apocalypse is use for Personal Gain

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, and I have heard from my east coast relatives concerning their safety and wellbeing.  I wrote my weekly Missourian column, “Storm Takes Precedent,” late Monday night/Tuesday morning, and learned about my family later Tuesday afternoon.

What I left out of the column was my other fear, the one that came to fruition this morning when I read my paper, then the Huffington Post, and verified the information through the AP. The Westboro Baptist Church has already claimed that Hurricane/Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy was God sent.

From the HuffPo:

Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Westboro pastor Fred Phelps, has spewed a series of tweets about Hurricane Sandy since the storm first brewed in the Caribbean last week. “God sent the whirlwind. #ThankGodForRighteousJudgment…”

OK, the Westboro people are extremes, but the questions of the reasons for the devastating storm, if God is once again testing Man, if someone has sinned, why such a large path of destruction and death to innocents, for many is left unanswered.

Do we rely on statements such as Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” who told the HuffPo that the difference between God and nature is that God has morals and nature is somehow “value free?” Really rabbi?

Phelps-Roper and other ministers, who pour out of the methane filled swamps to use devastation, injuries and deaths as their justification of accepting Christ, are at best blasphemers. At worse, they are exploiters of tragedy to gain personal and financial gain. They themselves are the epitome of evil, working towards an end that the God of Abraham, if He is an all loving and caring God, would certainly punish. But no, they keep-on spewing words of hate to justify their own madness.

It angers me that those of religion justify nature and all of its possibilities on “God’s plan.” What plan? To kill innocents and destroy lives of good people, those of religion and those not? Is this really their loving and caring god?

It angers me that those of religion have not come out against such blasphemy and condone these statements and acts of purposeful hate for forcibly. That certain Christian, Jewish and Islamic sects are permitted to continue to violate the universal golden rule as told by Linus Pauling, “Do unto to others 20% better than you expect them to do unto you.”

It angers me when I hear over and over that “we don’t know God’s plan, don’t understand his wisdom or suffering will only make us stronger.” Do religious leaders and the faithful really believe this?

Sandy’s path was not sealed by some mythological and questionably benevolent god. Or, for that matter an evil god.  We know how hurricanes and cyclones form, where they are “born” and can predict with some accuracy where they will travel. We know they are not part of some unknown and non-understandable master plan by some extraordinary being in the sky. It is nature doing what it does best – creating weather patterns, some bringing much needed rain or sun, others way too much of both.

My own sense of morality has been breached by these soothsayers of the Apocalypse and the battle of Good and Evil. I know that preachers of hate are few, that they do not represent the good and loving men and women of faith, as I know not all a-theists hate religion. But as the press reports on these miserable souls, their message becomes louder and stronger. As humans, we can no longer justify such reporting without commentary that these messages are wrong and do not represent American Humanism, secular and religious.

That is the position I have taken over the years and that has been reinforced once again this week. I thought it was simply silly when Pat Robertson  and Jerry Falwell claimed hurricane Katrina was sent by God because homosexuality, abortionists and Pagans  The same comments came with hurricane Isaac, when floods and mud wreaked havoc in Florida earlier this year. In God’s eyes is the GOP evil?

It has been reinforced when ministers and imams seek justification through God for terrorist attacks or by rabbis to justify a form of apartheid in Israel that makes the old South Africa look nice.

It is reinforced as the number of sectarian wars and conflicts increase throughout the planet for no other reason than “my God or prophet is better than your god or prophet,” or “my religion is the only right religion; agree to that and I will not kill you.”

It is reinforced when I am cursed by false lay-ministers because I believe that a cloud is a cloud, not a sign from God. That man is “programmed” to identify faces and figures and that Jesus appearing as a cloud formation, in a tree trunk, or on a piece of toast is simply our mind playing games. Why would one believer write to me, “I will pray that our God will not punish you for your non belief,” if it were not for some feeling of superiority that does not exist?

As I continue to study human belief systems and attempt to understand the capacity of the human brain to be duped, questions by such luminaries as Dr. Michael Shermer are still left unanswered – Why do people believe stupid things?


About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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