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Notable (and Hilarious) Examples of the Christian Right's Failed Prophecies

The people who claim to be the conduits of God's will are scam artists.

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Will gay marriage be the end of the family?

Many religious-right power brokers think so: Rick Santorum, for instance, predicted that marriage equality would " destroy the family" and also " destroy and undermine the church." Not to be outdone, evangelical spokesman James Dobson claimed that same-sex marriage would " destroy the Earth."

We have a reality check for these claims, however, which is states like Massachusetts where same-sex marriage has been legal for years. As Nate Silver has written, the states with marriage equality have some of the lowest divorce rates in the country. The institution of the family hasn't disintegrated there; nor have those states been swallowed by the depths of the earth.

Gays and immodest women cause natural disasters

Ever since Sodom and Gomorrah (which weren't destroyed for homosexuality according to the Bible), it's been a truism of the Christian right that God indiscriminately smites people with natural disasters whenever we do something he doesn't like. For example, Rick Perry's one-time campaign co-chair, the evangelical Pam Olsen, claimed that gay marriage causes floods, fires and tornadoes. Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Isaac have also been blamed on increasing acceptance of LGBT people. And in one of the weirder variants, an evangelical Christian named Cindy Jacobs claimed that mass bird kills were caused by the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Since it's always possible to claim, after the fact and with no evidence, that a natural disaster was caused by God's anger at some sin, these specific assertions are unprovable. However, the claim that sinful behavior in general causes destruction is eminently testable, and has been tested. In April 2010, Kazem Seddiqi, an Iranian cleric, said that immodestly dressed women cause earthquakes. This remark inspired " Boobquake," a tongue-in-cheek experiment where women wore "immodest" clothes for one day to note the seismological effects. There was no detectable change in the number of earthquakes on that day.

The imminent triumph of creationism

The "intelligent design" creationist movement, which arose in the late 1990s, claimed to be more strictly scientific and more respectable than the old-fashioned, Adam-and-Eve-riding-dinosaurs school of creationist thought. And they weren't shy about predicting that their ideas would soon take the scientific community by storm.

For instance, the so-called Wedge Document, a strategic memo written in 1998 by the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute, listed as one of its five-year goals, "To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory," and as one of its 20-year goals, "To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science." (It's pretty safe to say that the former goal has failed, although they still have five years to fulfill the latter one.) Similarly, intelligent-design advocate Nancy Pearcey wrote in 2005 about " why intelligent design will win," and creationist William A. Dembski wrote in 2004 that within 10 years, he expected a " Taliban-style collapse of Darwinism."

These goals turned out to be empty bluster. Intelligent design suffered a crushing blow when it was ruled unconstitutional to teach in public schools by a George W. Bush appointee, Judge John Jones, in the 2006 Dover trial, and since then the movement has largely faded into obscurity. But this is nothing new: creationists have been continually predicting the imminent demise of evolution since the mid-1800s.

You may notice that, other than the self-serving predictions of their own success, most of the religious right's prophecies are of disaster and calamity. They almost never forecast greater peace, increased prosperity or the advance of democracy and human rights. There's a good reason for this.

 
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