FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”

My old boss Pat Robertson prayed last week that God would turn Hurricane Florence and move her out to sea without harming the coast. That’s a paraphrase, of course, but a fair representation of the prayer. He “commanded” the thing to move in the name of Jesus, according to the Charlotte Observer. The question is did his prayer work?

“In the name of Jesus — Hurricane Florence, we speak to you and we command the storm to cease its forward motion and go harmlessly into the Atlantic. Go up north away from land and veer off, in the name of Jesus. We declare a shield of protection all over Tidewater and we declare a shield of protection over those innocent people in the path of this hurricane. In Jesus’ holy name, be out to sea!” he called.

Robertson then predicted to those who prayed with him from church pews at CBN that “we will live to mark this day and say, ‘I remember, I was there when we saw that Hurricane Florence averted.’”

It’s important to note that at no time was Florence a threat specifically to Tidewater, for it was only at the north end of a range of locations the models predicted the hurricane’s path might take. Granted, I used to live there and know well the respect and fear of such monster storms, but Pat’s a promoter, and his promoter’s hat was clearly on for this whole event.

That’s because the ministry was in the midst of its annual 7 Days Ablaze programming for what is billed as a week of prayer between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It’s also, however, one of two annual telethons that fund the ministry, so the hyperbole is always raised a notch in the name of getting people to open their wallets. Praying a Hurricane away is certainly conducive to people giving their money, and note how Robertson carefully phrases himself to shine light on the ministry of CBN and The 700 Club:

“We prayed and look at that,” stated Robertson. “We asked the Lord to take it out of here and He did … It’s like a shield that God has put around us.”

“Why? Because God’s people prayed and that’s what happened. This is a miracle ladies and gentlemen … When we pray, God does miracles.”

But did God do a miracle here? Absolutely not, and it’s not even remotely “miraculous” that the storm turned more south (as predicted by the models). The Bible teaches that the test for a prophet is whether his prophecies come true, and in this case, Robertson “commanded” Florence to miss the coast entirely. It did not. Nevertheless, he took credit for it “missing Tidewater,” for the narrative he’s selling is that God answers prayer FROM VIRGINIA BEACH because CBN and all of its partners need it to be so. They will never admit to such, but the term “evangelistically speaking” includes a certain approval for bending the truth as far as possible in selling the gospel.

But even worse than declaring victory for CBN, this celebratory tone was entirely inappropriate given the enormity of the
disaster left in the hurricane’s wake. There’s something rather haughty about delighting that God protected you but beat the crap out of others. Wouldn’t it be merciful to pray that the hurricane would hit us rather than destroy innocents further to the south? Robertson chose to gloat for purposes of drawing attention to himself for fundraising, and this is hardly representative of men of God, old or new.

Robertson was delighted to refer to the “shield of protection” over Tidewater in claiming a miracle, but his earlier prayer had also included a “shield of protection over those innocent people in the path of this hurricane,” which would include the 34 dead (including children) in Florence’s wake in the Carolinas. The 350,000 people still without power as of this writing were also not a part of any shield. As North Carolina settles in for what looks like a long recovery for its people, more than one person is rightly asking, “Why did you send the damned hurricane to us?”

This is the type of Christianity that has supported Donald Trump completely, and it’s built on a foundation of self-interest, a sort of self-improvement form of religion. How can we expect the President to be truthful when the leadership of his religious following has little trouble with bearing false witness in the name of financial support?

It’s pathetic.

I encourage you to read my book, where I go into how CBN ministries operate based on my years there as producer, senior producer, and executive producer of The 700 Club. The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP is currently only available via OR Books online. In late January, a 2nd edition is being released to a much wider distribution.

More articles by:

February 21, 2019
Nick Pemberton
Israel, Venezuela and Nationalism In The Neoliberal Era
Chris Orlet
The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Fair Taxation Scaremongering Tour
Bruce E. Levine
“Heavy Drinking” and the NYT’s Offensive Obit on Herbert Fingarette
Lisi Krall
This Historical Moment Demands Transformation of Our Institutions. The Green New Deal Won’t Do That
Stephanie Savell
Mapping the American War on Terror: Now in 80 Countries
Daniel Warner
New York, New York: a Resounding Victory for New York Over Amazon
Russell Mokhiber
With Monsanto and Glyphosate on the Run AAAS Revokes Award to Scientists Whose Studies Led to Ban on Weedkiller in Sri Lanka and Other Countries
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Fake National Emergency Moves America Closer to an Autocracy
Alex Campbell
Tracing the Threads in Venezuela: Humanitarian Aid
Jonah Raskin
Mitchel Cohen Takes on Global and Local Goliaths: Profile of a Lifelong Multi-Movement Organizer
Binoy Kampmark
Size Matters: the Demise of the Airbus A380
Elliot Sperber
For Your Children (or: Dead Ahead)
February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail