September 16, 2011 |
Editor’s note: the following is satire… for the most part.
Why is it that whenever disaster strikes, right-wing religious nuts seem to
have all the fun? Some might say it’s just because they’re sadists, but they
always seem to find the silver lining. 9/11? God’s calling on America to repent!
(No, not for it’s foreign policy, you dummy!) Hurricane Katrina? It was that
darned homosexual parade the organizers forgot to tell anyone about!
Whatever disaster strikes, there’s always an up-side in religious rightland,
always somebody to point the finger at with glee. How come they get all the
So when the East Coast got a one-two punch last month, earthquake-hurricane
within a few days of one another, it got me thinking. When another hurricane
followed up afterward, it was more than I could bear. And so, I offer you a list
of God’s Top 10 Targets from a
not-so-right-but-possibly-more-righteous point of view.
There are at least three different ways to approach this subject, and we have
examples of all three. First is to identify specific target groups for repeated
offenses—sinners who just won’t mend their ways. Second is to identify
geographic targets for specific offenses—sin city or state, as the case may be.
Third is to identify specific individuals.
1. Republicans, for bearing false witness.
It’s not just one of the Ten Commandments — the Bible has repeated warnings
against slander, false testimony and plain old lying. But Republicans apparently
think that God was talking to somebody else—the exact opposite of their usual
assumption—especially since Barack Obama arrived on the scene. Obama was born in
Kenya, he is a Muslim, he’s a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, he hates white
people (like his mom and his grandparents), he hangs out with terrorists. It
goes on and on and on.
God has repeatedly told them not to act like this—yet they pay Him no mind.
It’s not just Obama, either. When it comes to science, things get just as bad,
be it evolution, global warming, reproductive health, or gender orientation;
when the science isn’t on their side, the lying and slander take up the slack.
It’s not just that the science is against them, you see. Scientists are
fraudsters; they are always conspiring against God and his people, according to
some of the more whacked out types—like GOP senators, for example. God may have
a great deal of patience, but when folks start trying to drag Him into the mix,
that’s when the earthquakes and hurricanes begin.
2. The Religious Right, for ignoring Jesus on the separation of
church and state.
More than 1,600 years before John Locke and 1,700 years before Thomas
Jefferson weighed in on the subject, Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar
that which is Caesar’s and unto God those things which are God’s.” (What’s more,
he said that, in part, as a way of opting out of a tax revolt!) But the
Religious Right defiantly continues to oppose Him. God’s been extremely patient
with them over the years, but that patience has finally run out, as the most
anti-separationist elements of the Religious Right—known as dominionists—have come increasingly to the fore.
Some might say they’re embarrassing Him personally. Others will say it’s starting to get
really dangerous. Whatever the reason, God’s had enough.
3. The nativist right and the GOP, for a rash of anti-immigrant
“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in
the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21 could not be clearer—unless, of course, we
switched from the King James Bible to the New International Version: “Do not
mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”
But for some in the GOP, them’s fightin’ words. All they can think about is
disobeying God. They are positively possessed with the Satanic spirit of
disobedience. It began with Arizona’s SB-1070 last year. And while a number of
states followed Arizona’s lead with anti-immigrant laws of their own, the most
notorious was Alabama, which faced “a
historic outbreak of severe weather” in April.
The same day the law was signed, Alabama’s Episcopal, Methodist and Roman
Catholic churches filed a separate lawsuit, claiming the law unconstitutionally
interferes with their right of religious freedom. Church leaders said the law
“will make it a crime to follow God’s command.” Among other things, the suit
said, “The bishops have reason to fear that administering of religious
sacraments, which are central to the Christian faith, to known undocumented
persons may be criminalized under this law.” If criminalizing Christian
sacraments isn’t inviting divine retribution, what is?
4. The predatory lending industry and all who enable
There are numerous Bible passages condemning usury. Typical of these is
Exodus 22:25: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do
not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.” Naturally, the whole of
modern capitalism is built on ignoring a broad reading of this. But predatory
lending is a particularly egregious form of defiance. It’s proved rather costly
to our country as well.
A Wall Street Journal article on December 31, 2007 reported that Ameriquest Mortgage
and Countrywide Financial, two of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders, spent $20.5
million and $8.7 million respectively in political donations, campaign
contributions, and lobbying activities between 2002 and 2006 in order to defeat
anti-predatory lending legislation. Such practices contributed significantly to
the financial crisis that plunged us into the Great Recession. But it seems that
wasn’t a clear enough lesson, especially since those who lobbied most intensely
benefited most from the bailouts as well, according to an IMF
study. So earthquakes and hurricanes are an old school, Old Testament way
for God to make his point.
5. The GOP, for its contempt for the poor.
For more than half a century, the GOP has attacked Democrats and liberals for
their concern for the poor. At least since the 1980s, the neo-liberal wing of
the Democratic Party has tried to distance themselves from the poor, and
reposition the party as defenders of the middle class, instead. The GOP has
responded with policies to impoverish the middle class as well, so that they can
be safely demonized, too.
But the GOP’s venom for all but the wealthy has reached new heights during
the Great Recession. Not only should those who caused the crisis be taken care
of while all others suffer—far too many national Democratic politicians seem to
agree on that one—but a renewed rhetoric of contempt for the poor has emerged,
in direct contradiction to what Jesus said, in Luke 6:20: “Blessed are you who
are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
Increasingly, it seems, Republicans don’t think poor people are even
human. In January 2010, South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Baurer (R) compared poor people to stray animals: He told an audience
that his grandmother told him “as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.
You know why? Because they breed.” He compared this to government assistance,
which he said is “facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person
ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too
much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail
that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.” Then, in early August,
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the frontrunner for the GOP senate
nomination, compared poor people to scavenging racoons. Talk like that is
what causes earthquakes and hurricanes.
6. Privatized public utilities, for the worship of
Public utilities are natural monopolies, totally unsuited to private
enterprise, since there is no competitive marketplace. This, of course, makes
them perfect targets for monopoly capitalists—Mammon’s greatest worshipers.
Against them, God struck a mighty blow. In Mansfield, Massachusetts, which
has had its own municipal power service since 1903, electrical service was
restored for most customers within 24 hours after Irene hit, even though 4,000
out of 9,500 households had lost power—quite unlike what happened to nearby
communities served by a commercial outfit. According to a local report, the storm “uprooted old trees and knocked down
utility lines all over town.”
“Unlike homes and businesses in Easton, Norton and Foxboro, however, local
customers did not have to wait for National Grid to respond with crews or listen
to a recording on the telephone…. [M]uch of Easton waited three days for power
to return and areas of communities such as Foxboro are still in the dark.”
According to another report, about Foxborough, “The outrage expressed… is
similar to the movie Network in the scene where people flung open their windows
and said, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.’”
Then there are a couple of geographically specific targets:
Virginia was the site of the earthquake’s epicenter and the second state
where Irene made landfall, so the state is a target-rich environment.
There’s House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. On God’s bulls-eye scale, the
epicenter near Mineral, Virginia is in Cantor’s district—a direct hit. And in
budget negotiations this year, Cantor’s contempt for the poor came through loud
and clear. He’s been the most aggressive congressional leader when it comes to
budget-cutting and pushing the economy as hard as possible over the cliff. Then,
after the earthquake hit, Cantor said any federal relief would have to be offset
with spending cuts, and quipped, “Obviously, the problem is that people in
Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.” He reiterated his demand for offsetting cuts when Hurricane Irene hit shortly
afterward—even though he voted against such a provision after Tropical Storm Gaston hit
the Richmond area in 2004.
Then there’s Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. No way he escapes
God’s wrath. Cuccinelli’s widely criticized witch-hunt against eminent climate scientist Michael Mann
represents the most extreme right-wing attack on the mythical “climate-gate”
scandal, which consisted primarily of scientists making snide remarks about
ignoramuses like Cuccinelli. He’s all wrapped up in sin of bearing false
witness. Which is where Hurricane Irene comes in—although it surely doesn’t help
that Cuccinelli is suing to keep people sick, and has told Virginia’s colleges
and universities that they can’t ban anti-gay discrimination.
And, of course, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has tried to have it both
ways with God, as well as with the people of Virginia. On the one hand, all the
way back in 1989, he wrote a Christian Reconstructionist M.A. thesis, “The
Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade” at
the College of Law at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. McDonnell’s authorship
of the thesis came to light during his 2009 campaign for governor, but because
the establishment is in deep denial about Dominionism in general, and Christian Reconstructionism in
particular, the full weight of his thesis never really sunk in. On the other
hand, McDonnell has tried very assiduously to walk away from that past, given
that almost no one wants to admit to such extreme views. He’s wobbled back and forth on a number of issues, but generally
tried to strike a reasonable demeanor—in sharp contrast to Cuccinelli. But God
doesn’t like folks who run hot and cold, which is why McDonnell’s a target,
Finally, just to be a wee bit bipartisan about it, we need to include
Virginia’s Democratic Senator Mark Warner in our list—though with a bit of
twist. On the day of the earthquake, Warner was scheduled to speak at the
Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpepper,
Virginia. He arrived about 10 minutes after the quake, according to the local Star Exponent, which reported:
The building had been emptied of its staff and the approximate 75 people who
came to hear Warner so the former governor talked from under a tree atop Mount
“I was not going to mention the fact that one of the last times I was in
Culpeper there was a tornado,” he said of an appearance years ago at
CulpeperFest marked by wild weather. “If you don’t want me to come back, there’s
an easier way to do this. If we start seeing frogs, it may be a sign of things
to come,” he said.
So it’s not that God is angry with Warner, exactly. He just targets Warner
for amusement, to see what he’ll say next. And, of course, because he, too,
represents Virginia, truly a state of sin.
8. North Carolina.
Hurricane Irene could have barreled directly into South Carolina, but it
delivered a stiff upper-cut to North Carolina instead. And why not? Governor Bev
Perdue tried her darnedest to protect the state. She vetoed its draconian budget
bill, only to see her veto over-ridden. It too was an attack on the poor — the bill
didn’t just fail to balance spending cuts with tax increases, it actually let a
temporary one-cent sales tax expire, along with some income taxes on high
earners, while cutting $124 million in local education funding on top of $305
million cut in previous years. Perdue also vetoed a highly restrictive abortion
law—one that, among other things, has a 24-hour waiting period, and force-feeds
anti-abortion propaganda to women seeking an abortion—call it the “Bearing False
Witness By Doctors Act.” But that veto was over-ridden as well—by a single vote in the
state senate. So, really, God’s hand was forced on this one. He had no choice
but to strike North Carolina, and strike it hard.
Finally, there are two individual targets to consider:
9. Rick Perry.
While the one-two punch of the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene were
far removed from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s stomping grounds, God had not
forgotten Perry, but was merely preparing to toy with him. Perry, after all, had
responded to a terrible drought in Texas not by implementing any long-term
policy measures (which might make Texas better able to deal with the prospects
of more severe droughts to come as global warming impacts increase), but by
calling on Texans to pray.
Back in April, Perry proclaimed the “three-day period from Friday, April 22,
2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of
Texas.” Since then, however, things have only gotten worse, as Timothy Egan noted in the NY Times “Opinionator”
blog, “[A] rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the
hottest month in recorded Texas history….Nearly all of Texas is now in
‘extreme or exceptional’ drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the
worst in Texas history. Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked
bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish.”
Somehow, though, it seemed like most folks outside of Texas had no idea of
Perry’s failed prayer initiative. That’s where God came in, following up Irene
with the tantalizing prospect of a Gulf of Mexico storm that would finally bring
relief to the Longhorn state. But alas no. First Tropical Storm Jose petered out
entirely, then Tropical Storm Lee turned to Louisiana instead. If you pray with
Perry, you obviously take the Lord’s name in vain. As one frustrated Texan wrote on Reddit, “Perry’s prayer has been answered. The answer
was ‘No’.” God is making things perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon would say: If
you want someone praying for America in the White House, Rick Perry is not your
Yes, it’s true, God Himself was one of the main targets of God’s wrath,
particularly during the earthquake, which did remarkably little damage to the
living. But, as Rob Kerby noted at BeliefNet, churches took some pretty hard hits:
“Churches seemed to bear the brunt of Tuesday’s 5.8 earthquake on the East
“Significant damage was reported to Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral and
St. Peter’s Catholic Church, historic St. Patrick’s Church near Baltimore, and
two churches in Culpepper, Va., close to the epicenter — St. Stephen Episcopal
Church and Culpepper Christian Assembly.”
Okay, so maybe God’s not self-flagellating. Maybe it’s the tenants who are
being targeted. But who’s to say, really? And if the God’s wrath biz is all
about appropriating authority to cast blame around, then why not think really
big, and proclaim God Himself to be the target? Pat Robertson & company have
monopolized this gig for far too long. If the rest of us are to have any hope of
catching up, we’re got to make ourselves a splash. And what better way to make a
splash than proclaiming that God is the target?