Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
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:
October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail