Cashing in Pat Robertson’s “pure gold”

Robertson’s evil is sufficient without anyone needing to invent more

Hey, isn’t it a little early for Rex Murphy to be going after soft targets like Pat Robertson in the National Post? And isn’t intellectual hygiene a desirable thing even in the pursuit of such small game? I understand that no sensible Christian of any denomination would endorse Robertson’s Wednesday remarks suggesting that Haiti is cursed because it bought its independence by bargaining with the devil. But to make Robertson’s remarks the occasion for catcalling at the irreligious really seems like going over the top. Rex writes:

He, Robertson, fulfills every agitated secularist’s caricature of a “dedicated” Christian. If Pat Robertson didn’t exist, Richard Dawkins (with a little midwifery from Christopher Hitchens) would have to give birth to him.

Well, golly, Rex, that’s as may be, but Dawkins and Hitchens didn’t have to invent Pat Robertson, now did they? They found the world with him already in it. I’m afraid all of us, believers and infidels, must deal with the Christianity we’ve got.

Murphy goes on to complain that “Robertson’s outburst is pure gold for the ‘enlightened’ secularist view our age holds of the Christian outlook. It will continue to be mined in the late-night monologues, stuff the op-eds of ‘progressive’ papers, and will serve as justifying illustration for the demeaning hostility that is a marked feature of much modern thinking on faith.” Perhaps though carelessness on the part of the author, this has been stated in such a way that the most rabid atheist could agree unconditionally with it, and add that “The demeaning hostility will continue until it is no longer deserved.”

Since Murphy felt the need to lash out at an innocent third party while carrying on an intramural fight between Christians, I suppose one might point out that even the wicked Pat Robertson is entitled to just treatment at the hands of his critics. In talking about the “curse” he believes Haiti lies under, Robertson was referring to a genuine event in the annals of that country’s revolutionary struggle—the 1791 Voodoo prayer for liberty in the Bois Caïman. As some liberal and perhaps even “secularist” observers have pointed out, this aspect of Haitian history is something of a legitimate problem for traditional Haitian Christians. It might even be a problem for a sincere Catholic who took the trouble to inquire into it! Would Rex Murphy, squeezed into 18th-century breeches and sent by time machine to the Bois Caïman, have happily pledged his life to the destruction of the “pitiless” “white men’s god”? Freely inquiring minds want to know!

One way or another, we cannot find Robertson guilty of “telling [Haitians] the earthquake was their own fault”; as fantastic and irresponsible as his account is, it lays the blame at the feet of the country’s long-dead founding fathers, and there is nothing wrong with or cruel about that in itself. As one old philosopher might have said here, sufficient unto the day is the evil of Pat Robertson. We need not invent more.

Cashing in Pat Robertson’s “pure gold”

  1. Thank you so much for bringing some facts and real history to what will become no doubt an inflamed, fact-immune argument. I pursued all your hyperlinks with fascination.

    As for Rex Murphy, I am interested to see that he has moved to the money losing basket case, the National Post. It is and will continue to be Rex's intellectual coffin.

  2. Methinks Rex is losing it. He must be happy to have a new subject because for months all he's written about and slamming are climate change, Obama and Ignatieff – Natty Post must be thrilled to have him.

    I believe Pat Robertson is about 80 years old, so to think those guys invented him is a little ridiculous.

    Besides, there will always be wackos like Robertson and what worries me more in Robertson but the number of people who believe and follow him.

  3. Pat Robertson is the future of religion, in that religious belief is becoming increasingly unorganized. Largely, Pat Robertson is his own authority, which is why he doesn’t have anyone to hold his unintellectual ramblings to account. You cannot have an intellectual or ethical tradition without some sort of authority to hold up standards of practice and behavior.

    Which is why I was amused by kcm’s comment that Pat Robertson’s speech is an example of why people are turning away from organized religion. Organized religion, like organized academia, is what keeps people from veering off into crazy town. Of course, there are exceptions in both organized academia and organized religion. You can’t catch and discredit them all.

    • I'm not sure everyone has your nuanced view of organized religion…i certainly didn't. I'm certainly not an anti-institutional man. The virtue of religion that appeals to me is that it tends to provide a vehicle [ a means] for people to think beyond themselves…to ponder their position in the greater scheme of things…this is surely a good thing in a secular age, whatever your personal views on faith and religious belief.

    • I think you are right on the money to identify Pat Robertson and his ilk as a truly postmodern phenomena. Ironically, Robertson and his like harken back to the days of Judges in the Old Testament, the biblical commentary on which reads in effect "when every man was a judge unto himself." I think what Rex might be getting at is that the vast majority of churchgoing evangelical Christians are as offended by Robertson's statements as anybody else. Per capita, they are likely giving far more to the relief effort if statistics generalize. Rarely, however, does this make the press. Pat does. That is his gig.

  4. It's a bit of a long walk to equate indigenous appeals to a Haitian god (vs. a French god) with making a deal with the devil.

    • and further fetched yet, that either could actually be the source of legitimately laying the blame at the feet of the country's current inhabitants or its long-dead founding fathers. I fail to see how splitting hairs between about which Haitians are to blame or the eathquake – the former or the latter – is any less or more evil or vile.

      • You really don't see how saying "It's all your fault" to people who are suffering and desperate is different from saying "It's the fault of some people who were alive in 1791"?

        • Robertson concluded by saying that modern Haitians need to turn to god (presumably to undo "the curse"). That's not laying all the blame on the revolutionaries.

          • It's also not what Rex was complaining about. (It is, indeed, hard to see how any variety of Christian could or would complain about a plea for Haitians to turn to God.)

          • No, he wasn't. But you wrote: "One way or another, we cannot find Robertson guilty of “telling [Haitians] the earthquake was their own fault”; as fantastic and irresponsible as his account is, it lays the blame at the feet of the country's long-dead founding fathers."

            I'm saying that by suggesting the curse could be eaily undone by turning to god, Robertson is extending culpability just as fully to modern Haitians.

            Is it true that few or no Christians would be uncomfortable with using natural disaster as a missionary selling point?

          • 1) exactly Sean. Colby, one can't on one hand say that it is all the fault of the group x but that group y could end their suffering if they only to to turn to god to end the hardship without apportioning blame to group y.

            2) no i don't see it as a lot better. if you found your self to be horribly victimized by a natural disaster, would you find your self comforted by the message: don't worry it wasn't your fault it was your ancestors fault? somehow i doubt that i would be comforted by that.

            3) the game is pretty transparent here: 1) Haitians made choices to forsake god and so they reap what they reap so the sympathy they deserve is mitigated by their 'choices'; 2) their easy way out it to be (better) christians; 3) i just happen to be well-placed to help them to be better christians; 4) so instead of giving them money, give it to me and i will make sure they 'get better'. vile.

          • I don't see what's objectionable about saying "The problem is someone else's fault, but you have the power to fix the problem." That in no way "extends culpability" to the hearer.

          • Absent of history and context – both Mr. Robertson's and that of Haiti – you make a sound abstract argument. :)

          • doesn't it? doesn't it intone, if not logically require, that if you had the power to have 'fixed' the problem but that you have not done so, you are responsible for what happens going forward?

          • Only in the same sense that saying something actually reasonable about what Haitians might do to create a more robust civil society is also "extending culpability". If that's the case, then there is an awful lot of culpability to go around, isn't there? Are you going to wring your hands in the general direction of everybody who has ideas, sound or unsound, about what Haiti might do "going forward"? Pat Robertson has a dumb idea: the problem is that the idea is dumb, not that he has an idea.

          • Is it just me, or are you moving the goalposts a lot on this one?

          • No, I'm making the quintessential mistake of trying to explain the obvious to a Macleans.ca commenter.

          • There now. Goalposts moved again.

          • Ah, it's obvious. Why didn't you say so? We could have saved a lot of trouble. :)

          • so those that don't agree with you are just stupid. nice touch.

          • "I'm making the quintessential mistake of trying to explain the obvious to a Macleans.ca commenter."

            If you have so much contempt for your readers, then why don't you pack it in already, you tedious hack?

          • Mostly because I lack training in the useful trades and am too lazy to learn a new one. I thought even you could have figured that one out.

          • Mostly because I lack training in the useful trades…

            I don't believe that at all. It's just how your applying your training in a particular trade that's the problem…

          • I agree with you on this one. Obviously, Haiti needs to change something going forward. Robertson's suggestion was dumb but at least he's got the guts to say something.

            As I've mentioned in a previous thread, things need to change in Haiti, but the moment you mention such an obvious fact, you are assailed by those who fail to see the obvious.

            There are those commenters who claim Haiti's been hit by a stroke of bad luck, insinuating that
            -if the earthquake had hit somewhere else the result would have been the same (ridiculously false, it could have hit pretty any other Caribbean island and the result would have been must less severe or disastrous)
            -that the earthquake itself was unexpected (obviously false, Haiti lies in a zone where such an earthquake is expected every 50 years, and it could have hit Haiti at pretty well any time in the past and in the future, unless something changes, and Haitians would be no more prepared)
            -that widespread death and chaos due to an earthquake is essentially unavoidable, especially for the poor (patently false as well)

          • As one of those commentators who mentioned luck, i should point out the obvious, which is what i intended to convey, Haiti's had a lot of bad luck in recent years…it's cumulative.
            It's no secret that the environment has been badly, even criminally degraded, with tragic results. Haiti may be the worst example but is by no means the only one…poor people tend to make bad choices, particularly when combined with corrupt despotic govt. You seem to imply that all the choices were within their hands. It's mostly a matter of absence of good govt…not by any means completely within their control.
            The tsunami wrecked similar demage, i see no evidence they were any better prepared in most affected countries. But there was evidence of better govts to respond accordingly.

          • Throwing in the word quintessential does nothing to aid your confused defense of
            Roberts.

          • There's a difference? Yes, the idea – the solution he offered – is dumb. And the idea he offered really has nothing to do with the problem.

          • Agreed. There's your nutshell, right there.

          • If any criticisms or "advice" were given to Haitians on how to create a more robust civil society, it would certainly be directed toward the tiny elite of that society (ie about how extend "robustness" more widely) and not toward all Haitians in general. Pat Robertson's implicit advice to turn to his version of god was intended to all Haitians regardless of status.

            I don't know, I see your technical point about advice per se not being evil but rather what that advice is, but the nature of the advice and who it's directed toward really do count for more than you seem to willing to credit.

          • If any criticisms or "advice" were given to Haitians on how to create a more robust civil society,it would certainly be directed toward the tiny elite of that society

            Why? That is such a condescending, patronizing and elitist statement. Your idea of nation building is pathetic.

          • Are you texting these ideas in from Whistler or somewhere similar?

          • I wish, but sadly, I am not in Whistler, nor am I in a similar location, and I fail to see your point.

          • I would explain, but the moment you mention such an obvious fact, you are assailed by those who fail to see the obvious.

          • Assailed? By me? One person? Well, I guess I'll assume I had you pegged.

          • On just about every measure you can imagine about Haiti's recent disaster and its victims, take the polar opposite. If you do, you might find yourself where I placed you.

          • Heck, have you taken a course in obfuscated writing? Confusion? Give it up, Einstein would be lost trying to understand you.

          • Okay I understand your original counterpoint more, but you misunderstood me too. I was thinking more macro, not "here's how you build a sturdy shanty." I figured that kind of super-basic advice would be so unnecessary as to indeed be condescending.

          • Obviously, it's not unnecessary.

          • And your criticism is so constructive scf. Thanks doll!

            It's a matter of agency. The average peasant who is worried about subsistence is not even going to be able to read an NGO report let alone act on it. You Mr. Practical Conservative should get that.

          • Well, obviously, if they are so worried about subsistence, then clearly they need to try a little harder building a civil society. By your argument, civil society would never have happened anywhere.
            And if one thing is for sure, you don't need to read a NGO report to build a civil society.

          • "because they've been getting poorer over the years, not richer. By your argument, civil society would never have happened anywhere."

            Scuffy says: "I can only think so hard, and if you want me to know anything outside of what I already know, well, that's just too much work."

            Look into the history of Haiti's debt; look which governments supported the Duvaliers; which government overthrew democratically elected goverments; which governments supported the almost systematic rape of natural resources.

          • Reading Greene's The Commedians, might help some?

          • Are you kidding me? Look at their neighbours on the same island, and then look at Haiti, and compare. And you might wish to compare the jaded history of almost every single Caribbean island as well.

          • i still respectfully disagree Colby. Robertson didn't have 'ideas', he had a finger to point and fund raising strategy. this isn't about whether Haitians did or didn't do well enough re engineering its physical plant, or its civil society, or even armchair quarterbacking how it expended aid in the past. this was about blame for something they had no ability to control (whether a severe earthquake would occur or not). while i don't think it is the time to arm chair quarterback, until say all the dead are recovered that will be, Robertson is so much worse.

            am, i going to wring my hands in the direction of every 'bad idea'. no. again, as Sean suggested I think context matters. Robertson is not just any 'idjiot' he has an incredibly powerful public persona. and the implications of his actions hold actual consequences.

          • That's right, you stand on the shoreline with a rope and watch someone drown. Surely nobody would suggest you have any culpability in their death.

            It's a lovely semantic argument, but that's all it is, and to think that Robertson *wasn't* in some way blaming the current Haitians for their activity (or lack thereof) which led to this disaster is extending far too much credit to a rather despicable ass.

        • How are present day Haitians, even Haitians of fifty years ago supposed to throw of the 200 years of debt and exploitation? Simply by saying, "Hail, Jesus"?

          Murphy's wrong, and Robertson wrong to think that Religion really has anything to do with it.

        • It's the blaming it on Haitians, either then or now that is the problem.

    • I was thinking the same thing, and following Colby's advice to take "the trouble to inquire into it!" I referenced the wiki entry for "Haitian Vodou" (well, better than nothing).

      Deities

      Vodouisants believe in both a supreme God called Bondye , and many lesser spirits, known as the loa. This had been a belief held in several west African religions such as that of the Yoruba, Odinani, and Vodun, and when it came in contact with Roman Catholicism, the greater deity was associated with the Judeo-Christian God, and the loa with the saints.[not the devil]

      Bondye

      Haitian Vodouisants believe in a supreme god, known as Bondye [6] (from the French "Bon Dieu" or "Good God"). Vodouisants do not see Bondye as different from the Abrahamic conceptions of God, in the sense that Bondye is considered to be the creator of all. Bondye is distant from its creation, being a pandeist deity, and because of this, Vodouisants don't believe that they can contact it for help.

      Loa

      Because Bondye is considered unreachable, Vodouisants focus their prayer and devotion to lesser entities, spirits known as loa, or mistè…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Vodou

      • There's what Haitians actually believe, and there's what Pat Robertson believes the Haitians believe. Besides, his followers are more likely to consult Conservapedia. Wikipedia has a liberal bias.

        If one believes that everything that happens in the world is God's will, the logical conclusion is either a Job-style tribulation on the entire country, or agreement with Pat Robertson.

        I'd like to write Robertson off as probably insane before he went senile (as opposed to Murphy, who was merely criminally narcissistic before the onset of senility), but when one has as many followers as Robertson, insanity and senility aren't good reasons to get written off.

  5. Whenever I read Rex Murphy in the G&M, I was most impressed with his familiarity and knowledge of pop culture, while at the same time denouncing it. I think he watches a lot of trash tv. Well, a lot of tv, not necessarily all of it trash.

    The passage that Colby quoted ("If Pat Robertson didn't exist, Richard Dawkins (with a little midwifery from Christopher Hitchens) would have to give birth to him".) immediately made me think of a "gala" I try not to miss every year – The Kennedy Center Honors, the 2009 version having aired Dec 27th. These awards celebrate a lifetime of achievement in the arts. More info found here: http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/specialeve

    Jon Stewart introduced one of the honorees, Bruce Springsteen, which at one point had Bruce laughing so hard I was worried he was going to fall off the balcony. I won't spoil the joke but have a watch. I think Murphy was clumsily copying Stewart's comic genious in the transposed "joke".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QpTSztA1cM

    • Jethro Bodine, boy genious hehe

        • An off-brown gremlin made me do it.

          • Thank you that – Stewart – as good as he gets, but Sting covering a Springsteen song – be still my heart!

    • The explanation for Danny's outburst is pure ignorance. He reminds me of those people who claimed that the 2004 tsunami was caused by climate change (as opposed to a seismic event that originated hundreds of kilometers beneath the basaltic crust of the Indian Ocean.)

      Whenever something bad happens in the world, ignorant people will try to blame it on the usual suspects (God, AGW, the Americans), no matter how ridiculous.

      • Yup. Such people can and should be ignored.

        Robertson, on the other hand, is a leader and as such, can't be ignored when he says something so breathtakingly ignorant and hateful.

      • I'm not sure if he is saying the earthquake was caused by global warming or talking about how we respond or need to respond to such events.

    • > OK, so that explains Robertson's stupid outburst. What is the explanation for Danny Glover's?

      Stupidity and a willingness to reveal it in front of microphones and cameras. Actually that kind of explains both of them.

  6. Fun fact: 80% of Haiti is Roman Catholic. About half the population has some involvement with voodoo (then again, lots of Canadian Christians still say 'bless you' when someone sneezes, won't walk under a ladder, buy lottery tickets, get their palms read, etc….)

    • Yeah, exactly. Mr. Cosh seems to be ignoring the ongoing association of Haiti (and Haitian Catholicism) with voodoo. Robertson was plainly denouncing contemporary voodoo too. Oh, I'm sure it wouldn't stand up in court. Oh, I'm sure it wouldn't. And, oh, I'm sure that's entirely irrelevant to what Robertson was really saying. Enough with the pedantry.

    • "I'm not trying to be dismissive of voodoo. "

      LOL. Most unintentionally funny thing I've read so far in 2010; I'm screenshotting that sucker.

  7. The idea that one's loyalty to the supposedly "Christian" God who sanctified the horrors of slavery in Haiti than sympathetic to the victims of those horrors is an example of pig-headed callousness such as it is never wrong to denounce. I know I should sympathise with Robertson as a fellow human being and as the notorious sinner that he is, but at a certain point you have to say a guy deserves tossing from the Tarpeian rock.

    • Presumably, his god will decide from which rock to toss him ?

      • One must first presume a god…

  8. Murphy writes: "Robertson's outburst is pure gold for the ‘enlightened' secularist view our age holds of the Christian outlook."

    Why does he put 'enlightened' in scare quotes? Wanker.

    • Same reason Mr. Cosh puts ‘progressive' in scare quotes — it's a well-worn technique.

      • Good point. To be honest, I sometimes put "conservative" in scare quotes, but it's usually when there's a glaring contradiction in conservative dogma that I can't ignore any more.

        • As in – Harper is a "fiscal conservative"?

          • Sure he is. Deficit spending has become a time-honoured tradition among North American governments. He is merely 'Upholding Tradition'.

  9. Robertson's comment sounds somewhat similar to rationales given through the ages for the persecution and suffering of the Jews, that is, the claim is that they were eternally condemned for either not accepting Jesus Christ, or, as in some gospel accounts (or perverted interpetations thereof), actively seeking his death. So is Robertson on record as saying anything about that situation similar to his comments about Haiti? Surely to him those acts allegedy performed about 2000 years ago direct affecting his saviour must rank up there with pacts with the devil?

    Sick puppy.

  10. Coincidently, after reading CC's blog, I sat down with a coffee to finish up yesterday's G&M, and found Tabatha Southey's column on this topic. I find her style of humorous writing much more effective than Murphy's in replying to Robertson's preachings.

    A scolding evangelist puts the ‘hate' back in Haiti

    …Setting aside all the other issues raised by this, does anyone really believe that's how the devil talks? I know Mr. Robertson says this is a true story, but I don't believe the devil ever said, “Okay, it's a deal.” Isn't the devil traditionally a little more formal than that? That's not the way Mephistopheles talked in Faust . Okay, it's a deal? That's not in there.

    In Faust , he's mostly cryptic and scary: The devil says things like, “Dear friend, all theory is grey/ And green, the golden tree of life.” He never says, “Okay, it's a deal,” as if he were out scoring weed at a pool hall….

    When Hurricane Katrina came along, Mr. Robertson and others on the Christian right speculated that God had sent it to punish New Orleans for decadent ways. But Louisiana also effectively kicked out the French, so why curse them for decadence instead? God's being arbitrary about the French thing.

    (Also, I'm hardly a biblical scholar, but I'm pretty sure the devil went down to Georgia, not Louisiana.)…

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/colu

  11. It is exactly the kind of natural disaster of which the Haiti earthquake is an example that makes me take comfort in my belief that there is no God interfering in human affairs, because if such a God exists, it is an evil being which deliberately inflicts suffering on innocent and guilty alike, and there is no security in life, not even the limited security to be found in the natural order that science seeks to identify.

    I believe that the evolution of our species required, for our survival, the development of the capacity to believe in an unseen higher power that cares about us. A godless reality renders life hopeless, and reproduction pointless. Those who are completely rational will not reproduce, and their genes will not survive.

    I also believe that the belief that we make any of our major choices rationally is a delusion. We use reason to justify what we want to believe. Certainly the postings on Macleans.ca lend solid support to this belief.

    • I am an atheist-leaning agnostic who has reproduced. And, go figure, I happen to NOT consider reproduction pointless.

    • > A godless reality renders life hopeless, and reproduction pointless. Those who are completely rational will not reproduce, and their genes will not survive.

      In my entire circle, which is not inconsiderable in number, I know not a single religious person (I find it intellectually fruitless to closely associate with them). They've all reached adulthood and most of them are enjoying their lives, and have reproduced. I don't know any people whose lives are hopeless, at least as a result of "godlessness".

      I realize that bolstering a philosophical argument with personal anecdotes is stupid, but then the point you were making was stupid so I decided it would be OK this time. I also think that whoever saddled you with the nickname "A_logician" was either being ironic, or didn't really understand what a logician is.

      • You've certainly made my points for me, especially the last one.

        Or do you think that labelling an argument "stupid' is an effective refutation of the logic that leads to it?

        • What logical, deductive method did you apply that led you to the conclusion that "those who are completely rational will not reproduce"? None that I could see. You simply stated it as fact. What about this is "logical"?

          I labelled your conclusion stupid because I believe it to be a stupid conclusion, and will continue to until presented with some kind of evidence, empirical or otherwise, that there is even a tenuous correlation between being rational/irrational and having/not having children.

          In summary:

          - You didn't use any logic whatsoever in arriving at your conclusion.
          - A logician, by definition, would have.
          - Therefore, you are not behaving like a logician.
          - Therefore, your nickname can most charitably be described as ironic.

          QED.

  12. Just so we can be prepared, any "evil acts" we should we have lined up to blame the inevitable Vancouver earthquake on?

    • Wafergate?

      • Voting NDP…if they're foolish enough to do so again. Don't they know that Gordo is all that's keeping the 'big one' away?

      • I think trying to shut it down is making a deal with the devil…

    • Bill Vander Zalm?

  13. Robertson's idiotic statements just highlights how out of touch with reality the far right is – even most Republicans condemned these cruel and heartless comments when the people of Haiti are dying and suffering to such a high degree. It's almost as if Robertson still lives in medieval times, and, if there weren't laws against this, would test people by throwing them into the sea and tying rocks to their feet. I have seen many people who are believers and who practice their faith, and don't think they're better than anyone else or are belligerent or downright cruel. Robertson is definitely NOT one of the faithful, more one of the faithless. I hope his followers will realize this, before they spend even more money that goes to Robertson's swiss bank account.

    • More like how far out of touch religion is. Remember the Imams that blamed the tsunami on the evil tourist resorts?

    • The word charlatan comes to mind.

  14. Robertson had extensive business dealings with Liberian president Charles Taylor. According to the article, Taylor gave Robertson the rights to mine for diamonds in Liberia's mineral-rich countryside. According to two Operation Blessing pilots who reported this incident to the state of Virginia for investigation in 1994, Robertson used his Operation Blessing planes to haul diamond-mining equipment to Robertson's mines in Liberia, despite the fact that Robertson was telling his 700 Club viewers that the planes were sending relief supplies to the victims of the genocide in Rwanda. In response to Taylor's alleged crimes against humanity the United States Congress passed a bill In November 2003 that offered two million dollars for his capture. Robertson accused President Bush of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country." At the time Taylor was harboring Al Qaeda operatives who were funding their operations through the illegal diamond trade

    …Mr. Robertson isn't likely to go to heaven – God knows what he'sup to.

    • I thought he'd already been kicked out.

      . . . Him th' Almighty Power
      Hurld headlong flaming from th' Ethereal Skie
      With hideous ruine and combustion down
      To th' Old Dominion, scheming there to rave
      And blackly host the 700 Club,
      Who durst defie th' Omnipotent to Arms.

  15. Hopefully the Christian community will not be judged by the misguided, hateful comments of Pat Robertson. I seriously doubt the majority of Christians throughout the world would agree with his ridiculous comments.

  16. How can anyone take this guy seriously…didn't he call for Chavez's assassination…or was that some other "Christian"? If Haiti's under a curse for an event i the 18th centuary, i hope Robertson would point out that his own country might be under similar judgement for its genocidal conquest of America. Ah, but they were animist heathens too weren't they…carry on with the lords work Pat, i'm sure the good lord appreciates all your selfless efforts.

    • For what Chavez is inflicting on his people, a call for his assassination just bumped up the caller on the esteem-o-meter. Mugabe, Dear Leader and a handful of others, some of whom are now enjoying the lap of luxury in exile, could join in.

      • Well i don't deny there are a lot of bad people out there who could do with killing. But we have laws as much as anything else, because we don't trust people like Robertson to pick and choose who dies and who lives. Didn't his purported boss say something about vengeance being his exclusive domain? For just such a reason i suspect.

  17. If Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens didn't exist, Rex Murphy (with a little midwifery from Raymond D'Souza) would have to give birth to them.

  18. Rex lost it with me when he defended smoking in public places. Yes he is a smoker. But this senseless rant goes over the top. He is the Don Cherry of commentators.

  19. Could we agree to ignore the commentary of religious fundamentalists? This is no different than the imams who blamed the Indonesian tsunami on sinning at the resorts. The real issues have nothing to do with these pathetic purveyors of superstition.

  20. Canada canceled 100% of debt owed by Haiti to Canada:

  21. duplicate remnants of clipboard pasted somehow because i can't login.

  22. Robertson is a Pentecostal Christian. Pentecostals emphasize the old formulae for driving out malevolent spirits, as did that Jesus fellow in the New Testament. Scoffers, remember that many people do fear malevolent witchcraft and possession. To set them free, it is seldom enough to tell them that their fears are nonsense. They do benefit when told that a priest or minister has driven out such spirits in the name of Jesus. The Pentecostal movement has made great gains in the rural parts of Latin America and in Africa. One reason is that Pentecostal pastors are not too cautious to exorcise evil or nuisance spirits. What's more, communities that have experienced conversions of this kind tend to improve rapidly in purely secular ways: less alcohol, less time-wasting, less adultery, more solid families, etc.

    Robertson's dismissal of Vodou may in fact offer Haitians the best possible route to taking possession of themselves and their destinies. That isn't enough, no doubt, to improve the lot of a, well, Godforsaken place like Haiti. But I suspect it's an essential first step.

    • Embracing Catholicism isn';t enough?

      • Nope.

      • If I hadn't had to shorten my original comment, this might have been clearer: No, embracing Catholicism isn't enough nowadays, because modern Catholicism, especially in the missionary orders in recent years, has tended to reject or avoid the casting out of demons through a mixture of embarrassment, caution, and lack of belief in such things. The Pentecostals have been very successful among superstitious peoples because they don't share that embarrassment.

        • You'll have to flesh that one out a bit more. Are you saying the Catholic church has failed because it has abandoned exorcism?

          • I'm saying that the Church has lost ground in the Americas because so many of its pastors there embraced political activism and failed to realise that sometimes the best way to free people from the burden of fear is by – ahem – exorcism. But what I really wanted to say is that the best way to help people who believe in possession by malevolent spirits is to offer them the hope of freedom by exorcism. Once exorcised, such people often pull themselves together enough to fight their earthly battles more effectively. The astonishing success of the Pentecostal movement in rural regions where belief in the supernatural abounds is a testament to that fact, as is the corresponding rise in the fortunes of Pentecostal adherents in poor countries.

          • Pentecostal movement is more off the wall than I thought. Evil spirits and exorcisms please do not insult us. Lying and deceiving in the name of a bronze age myth.

          • So, the way to free people who believe in demonic possession – is to remove the demons?

    • This is a church that puts "Tabernacle" in giant letters on the front of their churches in the francophone regions of Ontario.

  23. I'll see your Pat Robertson and raise you a Sharon "The China quake was karma for Tibet" Stone plus Danny "Global Warming caused the Haiti quake" Glover. Actually in the Buddhist tradition the idea that a quake could be caused by bad actions is quite common.

    Oh, and I just typed "Haiti deal with devil" in my favourite search engine to see if there was any truth to what he said; Robertson's right, as a matter of history. It happened:

    "In Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince today you can see an iron pig statue. It commemorates the ritual of the African religion Americans today call Voodoo conducted by Boukman on August 14, 1791.

    A pig on that day was ritually killed. The escaped slaves joined in drinking its still-warm blood as part of a pact. Boukman led his followers in vowing that they and their children would serve the pagan gods of the island, including the devil, for exactly 200 years in exchange for freedom from the French." – http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=14079
    See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boukman. (edit: just noticed you mentioned this in the article; I stopped reading after a certain point. Whatever.)

    Robertson didn't actually say that the pact cause the quake, he said there was a pact (True) and that Haiti is cursed (true, figuratively if not literally). I doubt even 1 in a 100 lib-left journos were aware of that story. I can't even say Robertson's remarks were insensitive, they certainly weren't untrue; the pig-ignorant (heh) leftist anti-Christian media chimped out and went all concern troll is what happened here.

    • What — nobody on the right is an atheist, agnostic or skeptical of organized religion?

    • You offer the commonly misunderstood meaning of karma. From The Pali Dictionary by by Ven. Nyanatiloka

      "karma (Sanskrit), Pàli: kamma: ‘action', correctly
      speaking denotes the wholesome and unwholesome
      volitions (kusala- and akusala-cetanà) and their con-
      comitant mental factors, causing rebirth and shaping
      the destiny of beings. These karmical volitions (kamma
      cetanà) become manifest as wholesome or unwhole-
      some actions by body (kàya-kamma), speech (vacã-
      kamma) and mind (mano-kamma). Thus the Buddhist
      term ‘karma' by no means signifies the result of actions,
      and quite certainly not the fate of man, or perhaps even
      of whole nations (the so-called wholesale or mass-
      karma), misconceptions which, through the influence of
      theosophy, have become widely spread in the West. "

    • Robertson did not mean that Haiti was cursed figuratively at all, he meant it quite literally.

  24. "He is the Don Cherry of commentators."

    Was this supposed to be an insult?

    • scuffy says; “But, if they insist on beating people to death and setting them on fire, perhaps they might prevent the children from watching.”In short; 'They're savages.'And as to linked article at Slate, I see even after correcting a couple of factual errors, the piece, a descriptive essay about how hard it is to look at pictures in the last few days, she offers; “…the weakness of civil society and the absence of rule of law in Haiti.” as a reason.In short, 'They're savages.'Link to picture of a looter being beaten to deathIn short, 'They're savages.'

      • No. You can go off on your wild tangents, but that is not what I said.

        • "So, your justification for their situation is… ?"

          • I tried to answer that once, even though the question doesn't actually make sense.

          • What is your explanation for the current state of affairs in Haiti?

          • The lack of rule of law, the lack of civil institutions, the list goes on. There is a responsibility on the shoulders of all citizens of that country to do their part to contribute, rather than try to loot supermarkets and do vigilante justice. They should accept whatever engineering expertise they can muster from the US and elsewhere, regardless of colonial history. At the same time, they must have an eye towards avoiding dependance on other nations. They should demonstrate in the streets for proper democracy. They should all avoid violence at all costs.
            They need to have an eye to the future. Deforestation must end, it is causing erosion and destruction of resources. Education must be a priority.
            I'd say the most important priority is reducing violence, they must eliminate violence and they must all fight for the rule of law. Once that has been achieved, perhaps the country will become a place where investment can bear fruit. They must all fight to eliminate crime and violence.

          • “The lack of rule of law, the lack of civil institutions,”That's a good start.

  25. Yep. A totally convoluted and silly discourse, from Pat Robertson onward. Tar babies are traps, don't you know?

  26. I don't get the Rex bashing. He is a brilliant man whose use the English language (like Conrad Black) is most entertaining and a rarity in todays grunting society. I love Rex's opinions they are usually are based in Logic and that too, is rare. Without people like Rex, we would be stuck with only the bland pedestrian commentary from the likes of Mr. Cosh. And Rex is right on the Global warming thing. The G&M couldn't even tolerate one person in their diminishing rag with an opposing opinion. Stalin and Mao would be proud of the Globe.

    • Murphy does have an often entertaining way with words that can at times be a pleasure to read/hear. He also often uses his endearingly acrobatic language to make common-sense arguments. But by the same token he's often snarky for the sake of snark, and contrary for the sake of being a contrarian. Cosh pointing out Murphy's lame swipe at an unrelated 3rd party in this instance is not pedestrian, it's legitimate criticism of fault in an argument being made. And thanks for the Stalin/Mao hyperbole, we just can't get enough of that here in Macleans comments!

  27. Rev. Robinson may be shaky at 80 and a little hazy but to make him a harbinger of religion to come is patently arrogant and shamefully ignorant. Making a deal with the Devil (or evil) is certainly nothing new. Many of you respondents who profess atheism as a more virtuous path should remember your dark gods: Robespierre, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. They slaughtered in orders of magnitude beyond any Christian you can name

    • Yes yes good argument, Christians have "only" slaughtered degrees lesser than atheist dictators, ergo they're righteous.

  28. Once again the atheists are putting words in people's mouths and spewing hate I find.

    http://www.cbn.com/about/pressrelease_patrobertso
    Robertson's compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.

    So have an of these big mouths donated more than $10?

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