Televangelist Pat Robertson Says Earthquake Payback for Haiti's "Pact With the Devil"

In remarks made on his TV program, Robertson claimed that Haitian slaves won their freedom by bargaining with the Devil, who just got his due. (With video)

Every disaster that befalls a nation -- hurricanes, floods, terrorism, earthquakes -- constitutes God's punishment of a people gone astray, according to Pat Robertson, who famously blamed feminists for 9/11 and gays for Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew. In the case of Haiti's devastating earthquake, he blames an ostensible deal that black Haitians made with the Devil in order to win their emancipation and independence from the French colonials who enslaved them. So, in Haiti's case it might not be God who did the nation in, but rather the Devil calling in his chit.

From today's edition of "The 700 Club":

[S]omething 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 "Okay, it's a deal." And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That island is Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc.. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. Uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God and out of this tragedy. I'm optimistic something good may come.

Because, of course, black people couldn't possibly have the wherewithal to defeat their white oppressors without a little supernatural help -- and it sure wouldn't be coming from God, right?

The association of black people with the devil goes back to Puritan times -- remember the role of the slave Tabitha in the Salem witch trials? -- and it lives in the unconscious of a certain sort of white evangelical Christian. The sort like Pat Robertson.

Also equated with Satan by one of the leading lights of the religious right, the late theologian R.J. Rushdoony, are the spiritual traditions of voudoun and voodoo practiced in Haiti and on the U.S. Gulf Coast, respectively. Rushdoony not only called for the separation of the races, but condemned jazz as a degenerate art form for its basis in the African rhythms expressed in voodoo. From Rushdoony's seminal book, The Institutes of Biblical Law:
The background of Negro culture is African and magic, and the purposes of magic are control and power over God, man, nature, and society. Voodoo, or magic, was the religion and life of American Negroes. Voodoo songs underlie jazz, and old voodoo, with its power goal, has been merely replaced with revolutionary voodoo, a modernized power drive.

While Robertson's comments are too easily written off as the rantings of the religious right's most visible fool, they reflect a sentiment expressed by one of its most influential intellectuals -- one who appeared on Robertson's "700 Club" several times during its heyday. While it can't be said that Robertson's dominionist form of Christianity equals Rushdoony's more severe reconstructionist model, it was Rushdoony's theory of dominion that informed the religion of Robertson and his ilk. (Katherine Yurica here offers a side-by-side comparison of selected Robertson and Rushdoony quotes.)

As Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, observed in a statement, "Regrettably, Pat Robertson can’t be written off as an eccentric aberration of the right-wing -- he’s still a leading figure in the conservative movement."

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.
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