Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Rev. Pat Robertson has a well-earned reputation for off the wall remarks, but he has outdone himself this time. He is claiming that Haiti's suffering has been the result of a "curse" that came upon the Haitian people when they made a "pact with the devil" in order to overthrow the French and win independence. Oy vey. Where does one begin. In the video clip of the comment, Robertson seems quite sincere, so I suppose he really believes what he is saying. There is nothing nasty in his tone. One wonders, though, where he gets such wacky ideas. He goes on to ask for prayers for the people of Haiti and for finanical generosity for them from his viewers---and that is all very good. I hope that lots of prayers and lots of money for the Haitian people come of it. I understand that Robertson has a large viewership. But I hate the thought that some people will go along with the nutty belief that Haitian suffering is the result of a curse the Haitian people brought upon themselves. In addition to being nuts, it's deeply unfair.
I've never met Robertson, but I once gave lectures at Regent University in Virginia, which he founded. I was very favorably impressed by the the law faculty. They were sharp, learned, and intellectually serious people. Most were evangelicals, but there were also some Catholics. A couple of the philosophically-trained evangelical members of the faculty very capably challenged the essentially Aristotelian philosophy of law I was defending in the lectures by drawing on the work of Karl Barth and his disciple Carl F.H. Henry. It was a stimulating and (for me, at least) illuminating debate. I can only imagine how they and others on the faculty must cringe when their founder says things like what he said today. Perhaps, to borrow a bit from Plato, we should "call no professor happy while the founder of his university lives."