God causes the disaster in Japan! Really?

Robert V. Taylor

The earthquake, tsunami, human devastation and nuclear crisis in Japan are God answering prayer.  Really? This bizarre interpretation is being circulated on YouTube by Pamela who says “I am so overjoyed” that God answers prayers directly. Is this pure craziness? It is the antithesis of compassion and spirituality. 

I find this this view to be highly offensive.  The video in question has been strongly rejected by many Americans. Sadly it is not an oddity. It reflects a certain religious perspective given voice to most prominently by Jerry Falwell who said on CNN that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were God’s judgment on America. He identified gays, feminists and abortion as the provoker’s of “God’s wrath.”  Falwell said the attacks were because “God had been driven out of” American schools.  Or Pat Robertson who called the Haitian earthquake “a blessing” (FOX News). Or John Hagee who proclaimed on TV that New Orleans got what it deserved for its sins.

The YouTube video celebrates prayers offered on Ash Wednesday by some Christians to “open the eyes of atheists all over the world” and that a few days later “God literally shook the country of Japan saying – ‘Hey look! I’m here!’” The YouTube messenger – who calls herself Pamela but whose real name is believed to be Tamar Boehm – believes this reveals “Such an amazing God…I’m so encouraged.” Chritainity Today says Evangelical author Steven Keillor is not alone among those making the case for a God of judgment.

I understand the Holy and the spiritual to be about one primary invitation – the journey to love and compassion.  In that grounding we enter into the stories of others and discover with new eyes our oneness as people.  As our empathy for one another grows we do not celebrate calamities, we rediscover our shared humanity. Instead of judgment our compassion invites us to reach across whatever may divide us.  

The spiritual path is one of becoming both fully alive and fully human.  It is about more than being the authentic unique person and voice that each of us is.  We are only fully human and alive in the context of other people.  We are not here to judge but to discover that we are made for compassion and love.

Japan - Tsunami

So where does the vengeful, destructive God who delights in carnage come from?  For Falwell, Robertson, Keillor and the YouTube messenger they take refuge in a strand of theology found in a small part of the Hebrew Scriptures – proof texts like this from the prophet Amos: “When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?”

Taking such texts out of contexts is always dangerous business.  It doesn’t equate with the Rabbi Jesus who says that love is the only commandment to aspire to. 

My heart goes out to the people of Japan living through their still unfolding crisis.  My heart is with those from many spiritual traditions – or none at all – who are on the ground representing many countries as relief workers.  I’ll stand with those who are praying and giving financially to disaster relief efforts.  

Pamela does stop with Japan in her video.  She says the destruction there is just a taste of what God will do in America – “I can’t imagine…how vengeful he’s going to be on America.”  

The expectant glee of such hatred is hard for me to fathom.  I’ll cast my lot with all of those – the religious, spiritual and anyone else – who understands that the sacred is discovered in every person.  With those who work for the inclusion of all.  Surely this is where compassion and love are revealed?  I don’t know about you but it’s there that I find reason to celebrate?

Your voice of compassion, love and hope is needed!

Add your voice – post your comments or reactions below!

Join the conversation with Robert’s video’s Repairing the World and Opening Your Heart

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  1. Rev. John Forsythe

    It not only saddens me but breaks my heart that Christianity today still consist of these so called “Christians.” In a time when the world needs more compassion, love and strength these individuals still take time out to use destruction and devastating disasters as a reason for their own agendas, or to prove their point! My heart goes out to these individuals and Organizations that waste this time, money and effort to confuse others of the true meaning of Christ-like love!

    May God watch over, protect and be with all those affected by this horrible tragedy and may we as Christian learn to stand together with one voice and one hope which is to help our brothers and sisters and allow them each to experience God’s love. ” And now abide faith, hope and love these three, but the greatest of these is love!”- I Corinthians 13:12

  2. Thank you for your post. I so agree. I have been speaking and writing about this very exact topic for several months or more now. I am an Ordained Interfaith Minister and motivational speaker, and I constantly talk about the fact that we can no longer tolerate hate and ignorance. I don’t care who it is directed towards. The Mexicans, gays, and Muslims seem to be today’s poster children for hate (at least in America). Before this, it was the African Americans, Jews, American Indians, and on and on. People who call themselves Christians and spew such hate reflect more on themselves than they do others. You cannot love if you truly hate and judge yourself.

    I believe we are in the midst of a great spiritual awakening, and our world is being “cleansed” of what isn’t working. That’s why so much hate and ignorance is coming to light…in our healthcare system, our government, schools, churches, politics, our own lives, etc. It’s like having a cut, it gets infected, and the pus comes out. The pus is what isn’t working so that that we can cleanse and heal our wounds.

    But it’s going to take people who believe in the collective consciousness of love, peace, compassion, and harmony to speak out in love and peace so that we can help teach (not preach) others to become aware of their own lack of self-love.

    It’s interesting how people will take various verses from various Bibles and interpret them to back their own personal, selfish agenda and beliefs, and then call it truth. Jesus gave us the one commandment to override all commandments (which actually include all of them) when He said for us to love one another as ourselves. (I add “unconditionally.”)

    Thank you again for your article. I clicked “Like” and look forward to further posts.

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