Saturday, November 12, 2005

If you know anybody in Dover, Pennsylvania...

This went out to the Far-Flung Correspondents yesterday, with the subject line "If you know anybody in Dover, Pennsylvania..."

"...better help them pack. Pat Robertson has again fired up his direct line to the Almighty, and it turns out the latter is unhappy with the citizens of Dover and is expected (by Robertson) to visit His wrath upon them, like, real soon. See below from The Washington Post for details. (Bet you didn't know your vote for School Board was so important!)"

Robertson Says Town Rejects God
By Alan Elsner
Friday, November 11, 2005; A03

Conservative Christian television evangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them yesterday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Christian Coalition, has a long record of apocalyptic warnings and provocative statements.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God -- you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

In voting Tuesday, all eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for reelection lost their positions after trying to introduce "intelligent design" to high school science students as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

Adherents of intelligent design argue that certain forms in nature are too complex to have evolved through natural selection and must have been created by a "designer." Opponents say it is the latest attempt by conservatives to introduce religion into the school science curriculum.

The Dover case sparked a trial in federal court when the school board was sued by parents backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The board ordered schools to read students a short statement in biology classes informing them that the theory of evolution is not established fact and that gaps exist in it. The statement mentioned intelligent design as an alternate theory and recommended students read a book that explained the theory further.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company


I can't help but think how swell it would be to be so unquestioningly plugged in to the will of God. Most of us bumble around trying to figure out how to be decent human beings and so on, while some of us -- some lucky somes of us -- got it all figured out! They know what God thinks, and what he wants, and what he's going to do! It's downright astounding!

My friend Paul hit the nail on the head when he wrote, in response to the above, "I don't think those guys ever read the New Testament except for the homophobic St. Paul passages." To which my 15-year-old added, "And Revelation."

The idea of God rewarding folks for doing things the "right" way (as defined by televangelists, evidently) and punishing them for doing things the "wrong" way strikes me as being pretty insulting to God. Doesn't strike me as a very Godlike way to behave, frankly.

It also puts us on very shaky ground, morally, theologically, and philosophically. If things are going well in my life, my family is healthy, I have friends and meaningful work and so on, why, then, it must be because I am doing things right and God is rewarding me, hooray! And, obviously, if you lose your job and your spouse is sick and your kid drops out of school, why, then, you must be doing things wrong and so naturally God is punishing you, you unrighteous sinner!

Well, as I've said before, I think I have a higher opinion of the Almighty than some of these blokes who run around bragging about what terrific Christians they are. I have this feeling that God cares for me and all of creation, and that he wants what's best for us all. Most of what gets screwed up is our own damn fault--not the fault of some capricious, scowling Creator who lies in wait for us to make a misstep so he can smite us. God is there to support, encourage, and help us up when we falter.

Of course, if the town of Dover, Pennsylvania falls off the map one of these first days, I take it all back.