Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Was Due to Gays, or Israel, or Something

On October 29th and 30th, Hurricane Sandy lashed the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., resulting in deaths, property damage, and flooding in New York and New Jersey, according to the Washington Post. The Weather Channel reports that parts of New York City are still coping with power outages, fuel shortages, and crime. As Sandy's victims struggle to recover from the devastation and service providers mobilize to help impacted communities, the Religious Right returned to its time-honored tactic of blaming the disaster on things they dislike.

First, John McTernan, founder of Defend and Proclaim the Faith Ministries and author of As America Has Done to Israel, made the old, tired correlation between natural disasters and gays. In an October 30th commentary entitled "When God Judges a Nation for Homosexuality", McTernan linked Hurricane Sandy and advances in LGBTQ rights. While he emphasized that he was not attributing the hurricane to the "homosexual act," he did claim that the "judgment" was for "the government promoting homosexual "marriage" as an ordinance." He also attributed this divine judgment to abortion and "pressuring Israel to divide God's covenant land". 
"America has not repented of promoting the homosexual agenda so the judgments will not stop. You can be angry with me, but it does not change that America has fallen under the judgment hand of the Holy God of Israel. God will not tolerate homosexual “marriage”. It is the end of the line with sin ... By promoting homosexuality, America has become like the ancient pagan Amorites and has now come under the judgment of God."
Other Religious Right voices blame U.S. policy regarding Israel as a possible culprit. An October 28th column at World Net Daily quotes right-wing author William Koenig on Hurricane Sandy. Koenig claims that natural disasters that have devasted the U.S. may be linked to its "God-defying attempts to divide the land of Israel." Koenig listed several hurricanes and severe weather events that supposedly coincided with Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Koenig blasted Israeli land concession talks, insisting that "From a biblical perspective, the land isn’t to be divided, parceled out or negotiated away ... No earthly leader has the right to partition Israel, because that was God’s gift to Abraham and his descendants." (Hat tip to Religion Dispatches and SPLC Hatewatch.)

Some commentators suggested that the hurricane was a warning to non-Christians. During the October 30th edition of Focal Point, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association spoke with Calvin Beisner of the anti-environmentalist Cornwall Alliance. At the 6:06 mark, Beisner claimed that the devastation may have been a divine warning of the eternal suffering that awaits the impious.  (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"When we hear of Hurricane Sandy as perhaps judgment, I think that may very well be true, but the biggest thing that we need to learn from it is here is perhaps a little intrusion of the future, of the eternal future into the present. By the grace of God, God sends his son and his rain on the just and the unjust. But for those who are never reconciled to him, who never repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ, there's an eternity of suffering ahead. And for God to give them a little taste of that in advance so they are brouight to their senses and moved to repentance is itself a matter of grace."
Insinuating that disasters are warnings to the insufficiently pious is an ancient tactic, and a tasteless one to boot. I couldn't think of a more insensitive comment to make to all those who have lost homes, communities, and loved ones in Sandy's wake.

One Religious Right voice did not blame scapegoat groups outright for Hurricane Sandy, but rather used the hurricane as a metaphor for impending judgment and social upheaval. In an October 31st commentary at Charisma Magazine, Joseph Mattera used Hurricane Sandy as a metaphor for the current spiritual state of America. While a destructive storm raged on the horizon, many people were distracted by entertainment, he claimed.  Mattera warned readers about the metaphorical "storm of divine judgment" fast approaching because of abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as the "storms" of class warfare, racial strife, radical Islam, and an allegedly weakened church.

Of course, it's not just right-wing Christians blaming the hurricane on groups they dislike. Rabbi Noson Leiter, founder of of Torah Jews for Decency, appeared on the October 30th edition of Crosstalk. Leiter told host Vic Eliason of the "tremendous theological implications" of Hurricane Sandy, claiming that both Hurricane Sandy and the Great Flood were trigger by gays. At the 3:06 mark of the show, he had this to say. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"We believe that the Great Flood in the time of Noah occured, triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages ... I was actually personally told by a leading rabbi, and I know that a number of leading rabbis believe that there are messages in this particular storm for us, and the idea that the storm brought so much unexpected flooding is certainly I think an allusion towards the fact that flood destroyed the world. The Lord will not bring another flood to destroy the entire world, but he could punish particular areas with that flood, and if we look at the same-gender marriage recognition movement that's occurring, that certainly is a message for us to learn. Not just the bad people but the good people have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do, and if we don't face up, he will deliver divine justice."
Leiter's statements about Hurricane Sandy were part of a longer tirade against LGBTQ equality. At the 6:50 mark, Leiter accused LGBTQ persons of malice toward the rights of "Bible-believers", depicting the LGBTQ community as a sinister movement opposed to religious persons.
"The LGBT radical homosexualist movement is really the avant garde of Bible-haters of all different types, not just limited to the left. The advance towards homosexual rights and so-called marriage is not predicated on getting rights, and just thereby stepping on the rights of Bible believers. The purpose is to bash Bible-believers using their so-called rights as a pretext do so and that’s why it is so critical to oppose them, because they’re not after something that they think is theirs. They’re after us."
Especially offensive was Leiter's false correlation between homosexuality and child abuse perpetration. At the 47:47 mark, Leiter claimed that LGBTQ advocates seek to give people "a license to victimize," claiming without evidence that a disproportionate number of child abusers are supposedly gay.
"There are so many things that people could point out about the negatives aspects of the homosexual lifestyle that's being touted as being this wonderful ideal that the media doesn’t talk about, and we’re talking about victimization that goes on under the rubric of protecting people’s rights. They’re not interested in protecting people’s rights. They’re interested in giving people a license to victimize, particularly victimize children, and we pick up the pieces on some of that. We know how hard this is hitting society. The crisis of child molestation is not independent of the intentional proliferation of unfettered homosexuality. They are definitely connected. It doesn’t meant that every molester is homosexual, but many of them are. There is a disproportionate number that are homosexual males, and they are in some cases being given a certain degree of diplomatic immunity because of their favored status centered around a common vice."
Discredited myths like this are dangerous. Not only do such myths demonize LGBTQ persons, but they distract people from the real roots of child abuse, thereby doing a grave disservice to victims.

In short, the Religious Right wasted no time in using Sandy as a excuse to lambaste gays, abortion, people whose positions on Israel they disagree with, and the general impious masses. We've heard this kind of rhetoric before after disasters, and it should give some indication of where Religious Right priorities lie.


  1. OMG! Now the LGBTQ community is to be blamed for Sandy? Oh for goodness sake. What amazes me is that anyone would believe in a god that supposedly takes revenge on so many people for whatever someone else did.

    Once again Christians are portraying their god as the devil itself.

    1. Lorena -- Their version of God is a petty, vindictive bully. A deity who would devastate communities and kill innocents is not a god I'll ever worship.

  2. Will it never end? I believe there's a Chik-Fil-A in Greenwich Village. May we assume it didn't get wet?

    1. Donna -- Fundamentalists are always blaming LGBTQs for disasters, ignoring the fact that LGBTQ strongholds are often spared (and fundy strongholds are devastated). It makes no sense.

  3. I was traveling in the Northeast over the last few weeks, and while I wasn't affected by the storm, my heart breaks for those who suffer. I can't help but think that the people making the statements above are really shooting themselves (and their pet causes) in the foot. People are waking up to the insensitivity of this way of thinking. I hope, anyway!

    1. Michelle -- I hope so too. They show their true colors when they make statements like this.


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