Haiti, Robertson, Deal With the Devil

January 14, 2010 by

Robertson_Haiti.jpgChurch Marketing Sucks is no stranger when it comes to covering conversations about stupid things Christians say. From Sponge Bob and gay tolerance to suggesting the U.S. assassinate Hugo Chavez, we have a lot to learn when it comes to communicating better.

This week, Pat Robertson provided further fodder for the already fearsome fire he is known for fueling. In case you missed it, Robertson implied that the January 12 earthquake in Haiti was tied to an 18th century pact with the devil. During the slave rebellion of 1791, Vodou priest Dutty Boukman performed a ceremony at Bois Caïman, apparently making a pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. According to Robertson, “the Devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.'”

To be fair, although Robertson did cross the line in his implication, he seemed to exit that part of the conversation and move on toward rallying people to pray for and give to the people of Haiti. A spokesman for CBN later said that “Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath.”

I’m not here to beat-up on Pat Robertson. He does a pretty good job of that himself.

The main reason to bring this up is to remind ourselves yet again how nutso we look when we say things that have no place in the public conversation. It’s one thing for Robertson to wrestle with the sovereignty of God. It’s quite another to suggest he knows specifics about how the devil or God operates when it comes to natural disasters.

I was in Haiti two years ago this week. I spent nine days there with my wife and family, just miles from where the epicenter of the earthquake hit. I saw firsthand the influence that Vodou has on this nation. It’s difficult to ignore the link between their traditions and their deep-rooted fear.

I also witnessed the love of Jesus Christ at work in the lives of hundreds of Haitian people. I got a picture of what “church” can really be. I saw people unconstrained by the reality of poverty, living lives of radical generosity.

To suggest that Haiti’s extreme poverty or epic tragedy is a result of God or the devil is not for you or me to say. It is our responsibility to communicate the character of a loving God who calls us to care for orphans and widows, to feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and look after the sick.

That’s a story worth telling.

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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18 Responses to “Haiti, Robertson, Deal With the Devil”

  • adam
    January 14, 2010

    Don Miller (who I had never heard of until today) had a really insightful response to Pat being offside that I thought was worth sharing.

  • Mark Brooks
    January 14, 2010

    I wrote today about how Christians lead the way in aide. To me this is a better picture of our faith than statements like Robertson. Unfortunately the press talks more about stuff like this than what the Church is doing.

  • Ratcliffe
    January 14, 2010

    Oh Pat… you are like the weird uncle we wish nobody would listen to.

  • Danny
    January 14, 2010

    I get good chuckles at Pat and his thoughts.
    But as I was reading this article something kind of struck me, how many blogs would have been written against the words spoken by Isaiah?
    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to lump Pat Robertson and Isaiah and the prophets in the same category, I’m just reminding all of us, that God has used men before to proclaim His wrath.
    Just saying.

  • Alex Tillman
    January 14, 2010

    I in no way support the comments of Pat Robertson, but I think we all need to take a step back and listen to the advice that Pat really needed to hear himself – “Judge not, lest you be judged.”
    Let’s work together to help Haiti rather than focus on the odd comment of a TV preacher.

  • Zoomie
    January 14, 2010

    Whether there may be some divinely ordained cause and effect to this is far beyond our puny understanding.
    What’s really troubling about PR spewing this silliness in the midst of such incredible suffering is that it does far more harm to the advancement of God’s church than it does good.
    The last thing those dear folks in Haiti need to hear now is some pompous preacher telling them “see, you got what you deserved.”
    May the Lord watch over all in Haiti and strengthen the hand of his people who are trying to bring hope in the face of devastation.

  • Ian
    January 14, 2010

    @Ratcliffe: I second that. Pat Robertson is to Christianity as Ray Nagin is to New Orleans. They probably mean well, but they’re both horrendous gaffe machines.

  • BW
    January 14, 2010

    If the wages of sin is death, we’re all in trouble…and in need of a savior.

  • David P
    January 15, 2010

    Romans 14:4
    There are ~3 million Haitians without food and water, no place to bury their dead, the food warehouses looted, their government has collapsed, the police have vanished…
    Yet the liberal media picks up ONE obscure comment by a Christian Organization and rides it like a donkey. They need to focus their airtime on collecting support for these poor people.
    Through all the controversy I was glad to see that CBN was sending millions in medical support and would arrive before our own government pulled up their breeches.
    My question is… Did any of the media organizations send a dime in aid? Or did they just capitalize on the frenzy to report the evil these people are enduring?

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    January 16, 2010

    I like the comment Jeff Goins makes over at his blog: “Let’s all get so busy in responding to the Haiti crisis that we don’t have the time to sit around and criticize each other.”

  • Greg Shore
    January 17, 2010

    Brad – this is one of the best responses I’ve seen to Pat Robertson’s comments. esp – “It’s one thing for Robertson to wrestle with the sovereignty of God. It’s quite another to suggest he knows specifics about how the devil or God operates when it comes to natural disasters.” I also appreciate that you acknowledge that Voodou does has have a grip in Haiti. It is dark and seems to be an undercurrent in all of life.
    @Alex – We are to judge Pat Robertson. Scripture does in fact demand that the church judge not just each other but especially those who are entrusted with the gospel message. It is those outside the church whom we are not to judge.

  • please go
    January 17, 2010

    You are all delusional! Liberate yourselves, think for yourselves, lose your religion.

  • Andy Wittwer
    January 18, 2010

    Kevin – your comment reminds me of an Eleanor Roosevelt quote I just saw tweeted: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Love it.

  • Chris Morton
    January 18, 2010

    This is SO right. The fact is that we do need to have this conversation, but national television is not a place to really wrestle with theology. My thoughts on Robertson’s comments:

  • Alex Tillman
    January 18, 2010

    @Kevin – I understand that the Bible does give us the freedom to judge one another as believers but clearly a blog post wasn’t what the Bible had in mind for a Holy rebuke. If these post were an open letter to Pat himself used as correction for him, I think it would be perfectly expectable. But seeing that we are just talking, one to another ABOUT him,rather than TO him – that leans less towards correction and more towards gossip.
    Personally I like to live by Matthew 7:2 -“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Pat screwed up and he’s getting more than enough heat from non-believers. If you were in his shoes, you would appreciate a family of believers that wouldn’t spend hours talking about the mess you had made. Let’s spend less time focusing on man, and more time focusing on God.

  • David
    January 18, 2010

    While I don’t agree with all of Pat’s comments we can’t ignore the history that has created a hold on this nation. I also think we should be a little more respectful of brothers who have had their hand to the plow longer than we have.

  • Brad W.
    January 18, 2010

    Religion is illusion.

  • Ruben
    February 11, 2010

    If God wants to destroy Haiti for voodoo or anything else, I’m sure he would be just in doing so. But he would be just as just in destroying the U.S., China, Europe, New Orleans, SanFransisco, Mexico, et al. Heck, we all deserve God’s wrath. Isn’t that part of the Gospel we preach? To single out one country as getting what it deserves is so out of place. Even the Jews, in the annual passover meal, show sorrow for the destroyed Egyptians from the Exodus. Judgment is a serious thing. We shouldn’t treat human suffering so callously or be cavalier about it.

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