Friday, October 7, 2016

It's Just a Hurricane, People!

Okay, maybe not "just." Hurricane Matthew is a serious storm, one of the biggest hurricanes to make landfall in years. But here's what it's not - a manifestation of God's wrath against gays. Unfortunately, Christian extremists are beating that same old drum again. It's just like in the Muslim extremist world, where "immodest women" get blamed for earthquakes, and it makes about as much sense.

For example, one anti-gay Christian extremist declares:

"Hurricane Matthew Is The Wrath Of God Poured Out On The Cities Of Orlando And Savannah For Supporting The Evil Sodomites."

Andrew Bieszad, a contributor to, a popular anti-gay, Christian extremist website, explains that God is sending the hurricane as “a sign of His anger” against America for tolerating homosexuality. Bieszad notes:

"The Bible clearly teaches that in the Old Testament whenever the Hebrews were very disobedient towards God, He would send punishments against them, many times in the forms of natural disasters. Christian history also recognizes the same, where God will use His creation to execute judgment against the wicked. While not all bad weather is necessarily a sign of sin, both sacred scripture and sacred tradition clearly note that it can be so. Now we know that Florida is an area that is infected with sin, especially cities such as Miami and Orlando, which are veritable dens of sodomy."

And while Bieszad and others are blaming the gays for Hurricane Mathew, other Christian extremists blame abortion and Hillary Clinton for the storm.

So let's take a critical look at that. Even if you believe God directly punishes people for sin by sending natural disasters their way, which I don't, is this really anything like what would happen? First off, if God is omnipotent and the hurricane has something to do with Hillary Clinton, why isn't the storm targeting, you know, Hillary Clinton? Why can't an omnipotent God do that?

It should be pointed out, too, that analysts think the storm will likely help Clinton get elected. Her poll numbers show a small lead in Florida following the first debate, and big stories like hurricanes tend to "freeze" the news cycle and prevent candidates from making up ground once they're behind. If this is God going after Clinton, he's picked an ineffective way to do it. Shouldn't omniscience preclude incompetence?

Since we're going in reverse order, let's look at abortion. In the Old Testament, God punished the Israelites for violating Jewish law. Abortion is not banned under Jewish law, it just is anathema to Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals who aligned with them on the issue in the 1970's.

And why Florida? These folks might be able to put together a coherent argument if they could show that abortion is somehow worse in the areas of Florida targeted by Matthew than it is anywhere else, but otherwise? Nope.

The Bible also doesn't record God sending natural disasters after gays. If you actually read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, you'll realize that the issue was that an angry mob wanted to rape a couple of angels. Given that sex between humans and angels was one of the reasons God sent the great flood, doesn't it make more sense to read it that way?

Homosexuality is simply not especially grievous according to Old Testament law. Granted, it merits the death penalty, but if you read Leviticus so does just about everything else. And it only applies to men. Lesbians are not even mentioned in the text. For reference, it's considered a sin on par with eating shellfish, which is likewise referred to as "abomination."

So basically, the problem with these people is that they claim to follow the Bible, but don't understand it. God usually punished the Israelites for idol worship, and that was because essentially the Jews had a special covenant with God that stipulated they would not worship other deities. When they broke the deal, they got into trouble.

So why Christian or Jewish law would apply to people who are neither Christian nor Jewish is entirely beyond me. The trouble, as usual, is that the Poor Oppressed Christians can't stand it when anyone near them doesn't entirely share their beliefs. The mere existence of non-Christians causes them severe distress, perhaps because their own faith is so weak that it cannot tolerate dissent.

Sometimes a hurricane is just a hurricane. Actually, make that all the time.

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