Rankin File

Ruminations, fulminations, and cogitations on the spiritual life

Huffington, Robertson and Haiti

I’m alternating between scratching my head and gnashing my teeth.  The Huffington Post has taken issue with Pat Robertson’s comment on Haiti’s alleged pact with the Devil and I received the chance to subscribe to a “Pat Robertson Doesn’t Speak for Me” group on Facebook.

Scratching my head: why does Ariana Huffington care what Pat Robertson says?  If she wants to minimize his impact, she should ignore him, not plaster his quotes all over her blog.  What he said came during an airing of the 700 Club, so he was talking to his viewers, who, for most the part, I’m sure, completely agree with his world view.  He made a sweeping historical/theological statement: that Haiti, seeking independence from the French in the late 1700s made a pact with the Devil.  It certainly raises my historian’s caution – you know, putting two and two together and getting five, drawing inferences that don’t follow from the evidence, that sort of thing.  But the hysteria from the Huffington Post, et. al., I don’t get either.

There was no judgment in Robertson’s voice or demeanor about Haiti.  According to the CBN web site, their ministry is actively engaged in earthquake relief in that devastated land.  I don’t know if Huffington actually checked (I doubt it), but if one takes a few minutes to look, then Robertson’s quote seems a lot more like an understandable (even if historically questionable) comment made from within Robertson’s Pentecostal/Charismatic theology.

Gnashing my teeth: responding to Huffington’s charge, the CBN website puts a spin on Robertson’s comments that fudges what he actually said.  I wish Pat Robertson would “man up” and stick to his guns.  Christians need to have the courage of their convictions and if he really believes that Haiti is under some sort of demonic spell, then he should say so without apology or qualification.  And he especially shouldn’t give a second’s thought to what Ariana Huffington and her ilk thinks.

Irony: I heard Jack Cafferty on CNN talk about how poor Haiti has been destroyed by corruption and inept government. Upon examination, how much practical difference is there between “corruption” and “demonic influence?”

Christians cannot and should not operate in a box.  We live in this world and we need to engage fully in its doings.  I’m enough of a “methocostal” myself that the notion of demonic influence is not beyond the pale for me.  Talk of demonic activity has been completely distorted by entertainment media – people hear “demon” and they think green, projectile vomit, contorted faces and levitating furniture, but most versions of the demonic are much more mundane.  I think often of Paul’s comment in 2 Cor. 10, about “tearing down strongholds and taking every thought captive to Christ.”  How often does the demonic work at the level of mere thinking and we don’t even notice?

But while Christians should have opinions based on their theological/faith perspectives – as Robertson does – we should be wise and wily in how we communicate them.  Public comments by public Christian figures should never be made just for the home crowd.  Still, though I’m a little queasy about Robertson’s analysis, Huffington is the real bigot, not Robertson.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | General | , , , , | 6 Comments