But in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, you’re not hearing those voices. No Christian with a sizable following is blaming Texas for being too godless, too accepting of abortion, too tolerant of homosexuality, or too [insert everything else they whine about all the time].
Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service wants to know why that is. Is is simply Christian hypocrisy? Have pastors learned their lesson? Or is it something else entirely?
In the process, she points out that some of the same Christians who pointed fingers during Katrina aren’t doing that this time around.
She also spoke to Peter Montgomery of People for the American Way, who has long chronicled offensive statements from conservatives, and his theory is that any insinuation that Texas deserved this damage wouldn’t play well with their base. Houston, after all, voted down an anti-discrimination ordinance, and Texas (aside from a few cities) is a Republican stronghold where abortion is a dirty word.
“I think that makes it hard for the religious right to say there is some kind of collective sin in Houston that God wants to punish,” Montgomery said. “But if Harvey had hit New Orleans you still would have had people dredging up decadence in that city, or if an earthquake had hit San Francisco, you would have had people saying it was because of homosexuality.”
He’s absolutely right about that last part. If Harvey hit New Orleans first, we’d hear the same loud bigots claiming this was God’s wrath. So forget any notion that they’ve learned their lesson. They haven’t filled the Jesus-shaped holes in their hearts with actual hearts. They’re just hypocrites.
Or at least savvy strategists who know when to shut up.
Do they realize that? Are they aware they were just bullshitting when they blamed past disasters on the people in affected cities? Will they ever apologize?
I don’t expect them to. If they had that sort of self-awareness, they would never say the sort of awful things we’ve come to expect from Christian leaders.
By the way, I just want to point out that Richard Dawkins (just to name one prominent atheist) hasn’t blamed Hurricane Harvey on Texas blocking women from obtaining abortions, discriminating against LGBTQ people, or electing Ted Cruz. He — and all the other prominent atheists — would never do that. No one would ever take them seriously, nor should they.
They know that we’re fortunate that scientists saw this coming well in advance. They point out how our inaction on climate change will ensure similar hurricanes happen more often and with greater strength in the future. They know damn well that Mother Nature isn’t punishing Texas for the “sins” of the people in it.
Maybe the Christians who love to blame certain individuals for natural disasters that are entirely out of their control can take the hint.
(Image via Shutterstock)