It’s not always easy to be a devout Christian in an increasingly-secular world, but the worst of it doesn’t come from agnostics, or even the believers who just don’t feel moved to participate regularly in worship. I say grace before eating at McDonald’s and openly cross myself afterward, without attracting hostility. The hard part of it is that those who see me as Christian can’t help trying to reconcile that image with the image of some of the Lord’s spectacular fools. Yesterday, the day after a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the most spectacular fool was one Pat Robertson, who has a show called The 700 Club that appears on CNN.
On his broadcast yesterday, Robertson delivered this absurdity:
And you know Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, uh, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story, and so the Devil said OK it’s a deal. And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they’ve been cursed by one thing after the other.”
His broadcasting operation, CBN, doesn’t seem to be bothered by this. They admit it in this release, and they have the video online. (My system wouldn’t play it, but that’s okay, it’s all over the place, including right here.
Now it happens that a voodoo priest named Dutty Boukman performed a ceremony in August of 1791 which precipitated the start of the revolution, which lasted until 1804. I’ve not seen any accounts that include the number of people involved, but as it wasn’t broadcast we can assume that there were a half million Haitian slaves that had nothing to do with this, other than sharing the desire to end their slavery. I’ve not seen any account that suggests that Satan attended, nor that he clearly committed himself to a deal. We do know that Napoleon III was captured in battle, and the monarchy he led was dissolved on 4 September 1870. He was the last Napoleon to have anything to do with the government of France, and he died on 9 January 1873. Robertson’s pact with the devil didn’t take place until over twenty years after the last Napoleon left power.
I suppose it’s a waste of time to point out that earthquakes are the result of tectonic motion in the rigid structure immediately below the surface of this liquid-centered globe we live on. That’s not covered in the only book Robertson really accepts, my telling him the details of how the planet God created works would be lost on him.
It’s hard to admit to being a Christian when there are “Christian” embarrassments of this magnitude spewing their nonsense on national television. I want to make one thing clear: Pat Robertson doesn’t speak for me. I seriously doubt that he speaks for Jesus Christ. If he does, he has managed to find a Jesus that isn’t present in the Gospel I’ve read. Never mind that he has the historical scholarship of a third grader and the intellectual capacity of cauliflower.