This Week in Religion: Pat Robertson's Idiotic Ferguson Commentary
It’s been a trying week for social justice activists after a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. An unfortunate and clear side-effect has been inflamed racial tensions. But that's not so obvious to Pat Robertson, who told his 700 Club audience that racism is actually dead.
Speaking to the viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network show, the 84-year-old media mogul and Southern Baptist minister declared that black Americans have it pretty good these days.
“There’s no question...African Americans in this society for decades have been subject to discrimination” and “there has been police brutality in various cities,” said Robertson. But that is all over now, as “we live in what amounts to a pretty much even-tempered type of society.”
Robertson continued, saying he did not grasp why “on the strength of one man who robbed a store and was shot, all these thousands of people start tearing the city of Ferguson apart.”
He added that police are particularly trained to “be careful with minorities,” and then asked for “race agitators” such as Al Sharpton to “cool it,” saying they are wrongly trying to make this a social justice issue.
“I’m all for social justice, and I think most of us are, but this case is somebody who may have been mentally disturbed—we don’t know that —he may have been high on something,” said Robertson about shooting victim Michael Brown. “But whatever it was, the police officer had to defend himself and he was attacked in his police car. So why don’t they just cool it?”
Robertson went on to say that President Obama should have gone on the record to admonish Michael Brown for his own death because the young man broke the law.
Robertson wasn’t the only extreme Christian talking head making headlines this week. Conservative columnist and regular Fox News contributor Todd Starnes says he believes there is a liberal conspiracy to keep his book, God Less America out of libraries around the U.S.
The book, which came out earlier this year, is Starnes' call to reclaim America from hipsters, vegetarians and gays, among others he claims are “trying to eradicate the Christian faith.” Fox News has been generously promoting his book for months. But all the promotion doesn’t make Starnes or his books very popular with librarians. Starnes was turned down by a library in a small Alaskan town after he tried to donate copies of his book. The library said that God Less America did not meet its requirement of having received professional reviews, and added that because it had limited shelf space, the libary used this criteria to limit books only to the ones that would likely appeal to their visitors.
Starnes did not buy the explanation, however, sniffing that the “Cordova Public Library has ample room on their shelves for the works of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and President Obama. No wonder they don’t have room for the bad boy of the literary world.”
But what Starnes failed to mention in his column was that right next to those books, visitors to the library could also find tomes by Laura Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich. So much for Starnes' liberal conspiracy theory regarding small-town libraries.
Still, ever the victim, Starnes griped that another of his books, Dispatches From Bitter America, was banned from Amazon.com for including offensive material. However, a quick search of Amazon.com’s inventory shows that the book is actually available for sale on the online megastore.
The Christian Right is skilled in the art of feigning persecution when there is none. However, there is always a touch of irony in this tactic as it is historically willing to look the other way when the persecution comes from within its own ranks.
A very sad example happened this week when a Texas pastor refused to bury a longtime church-goer he said had not been tithing appropriately in recent years.
Olivia Blair was a member of the church for more than 50 years, and had been financially supportive of it. It wasn’t until she took seriously ill about two years ago that she stopped attending the Fourth Missionary Baptist Church and filling its collection baskets. She had spent the last year in a coma, according to news reports.
Because of her inactivity, Pastor Walter Houston refused to bury Blair, according to Blair’s daughter, who also said her mother requested to be buried by the church. When Tyrone Jacques of PimpPreacher.com, a religious watchdog site, intervened to meet with Houston and urge him to reconsider, Houston remained resolute. Houston told Jacques that Blair was “no longer a member of the church because she had not supported it financially in the last 10 years.”
Jacques then offered to pay for the funeral services out of his own pocket, but Houston still refused to perform the service. When pressed for an answer as to why, Houston channeled the famous American Express Card ad slogan: "Membership has its privileges.”
We cap off our holiday week with yet another inexplicable utterance by famed “young-Earth creationist promoter” Kevin Ham, the man behind Kentucky’s infamous Creation Museum.
In a post on his Answers in Genesis blog, Ham said he actually believes in climate change. Well, not ma-nmade climate change, but God-made climate change.
“At Answers in Genesis, while we certainly do not deny climate change, we believe there is no significant man-made climate change,” he said. “Starting from the Bible, we know that there was a global flood a few thousand years ago that completely changed Earth’s surface and climate, and that the earth is still settling down from this catastrophe. So we should expect there to be some variations in climate change, but this is not alarming and is not the direct result of modern human activity.”
Ham insists that the secular world is wrong to rely on observational science to explain climate change. They should instead use what he calls “historical science” to explain phenomena like climate change. He further chides secularists, saying that they “want people to have a wrong understanding of what the word science means.”
To really drive the point home that he’s totally out of touch with reality, Ham claims that “because of the effects of sin, the curse and the flood — we will continue to witness climate change until the Lord comes!"