Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bible Belt Ravaged

What you see there is a map showing the incredible number of tornadoes that have hit the country this week. There is something else I want you to note. They hit the Bible Belt. This is the hotbed of American fundamentalism.

Why do I point this out? Simple, because Christian fundamentalist constantly spout off complete nonsense about natural disasters being a punishment from God. If California has a drought or earthquake they rant about how God is punishing the liberals and the gays. When Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area Rev. Pat Demented Robertson told everyone it was because the Gay Mardis Gras was schedule for the French Quarter.

God, as is often the case, missed. The French Quarter survived quite nicely but Baptist Churches all over the South were flattened.

Sorry, but that just isn't the way reality works. But reality and fundamentalism aren't even on speaking terms. There is no divine retribution at work. God is no more punishing gays in California with earthquakes than he was trying to chastise Baptists in Alabama.

One video that I saw has a fundamentalist type filming the tornado. Every few seconds he shouts "Lord Jesus help them," as he watches the tornado slice through and destroy a large section of the one of the most religious cities in America.

But just as their deity is not punishing sinners he is not protecting saints either. Many God-fearing fundamentalist holier-than-thou Republican died this week. Many more had their homes and businesses destroyed. I take no joy in that. I just wish to say that their piety no more protected them than the "sin" of others made them targets.

Natural disasters are just that, natural. They are not supernatural events no matter how much some people want to bestow spiritual meaning to them.

In the last week dozens of churches were destroyed by these acts of nature. Many were ultra-fundamentalist sects which praise God when some disaster hits places they consider "sinful." They say they take no pleasure in the destruction but that this proves the glory and reality of their god. When the disasters hit their own sanctuaries they are either deathly silent about divine punishment or invent some "miracle" which proves they are the chosen. If some congregation is hit, and people survive in the basement, this is considered proof that God was protecting them. Just ignore the damage and other Christians who died.

But consider the awful 1989 quake that hit the San Francisco. That was supposedly God trying to beat some sense into those deviants. Only 56 people died in that awful quake, and most of them weren't even in San Francisco. Of approximately 650,000 people in San Francisco, something like 649,990 of them of were "protected." They ignore that and concentrated on those who were not so lucky and the destruction.

But, in the Bible Belt tornadoes of this week about five times as many people were killed. I am sorry that happened. I wish it did not happen. But the reality is that shit happens and sometimes people get hurt. All we can do is try to be prepared for it.

Let's not turn these wholly natural events into harbingers of of divine will. They aren't. No one is being punished and no one is being protected. It's a matter of being in one particular place at one particular time that either protects you, or dooms you. You can stack the odds in your favor by taking some precautions. But a lot of this is simply nature at work.

As for those who are praying for those who were hurt. Please, get off your knees and help them. Instead of asking some deity to perform miracles why don't you just act yourself. Help those you can, comfort those you can, and rescue those you can. Don't look to the heavens, look to yourself. When others are in need, and you are able to help, but instead of giving them a hand, you offer prayers on their behalf, you are literally as useful to them as the man who laughs at their misery and walks away.