While many struggle to make sense of the devastation to the U. S. Gulf Coast produced by the hurricane Katrina, extremists of various persuasions had quick explanations. Alan Cooperman in his September 4th article in the Washington Post compared the views of several fundamentalist Christians and a Muslim.
One fundamentalist Christian whom Cooperman quoted is Steve Lefemine, an anti-abortion activist in Columbia, S. C.: "In my belief, God judged New Orleans for the sin of shedding innocent blood through abortion. . . Providence punishes national sins by national calamities."
Another fundamentalist also pronounced the disaster as the work of God but attributed the divine wrath to a different cause. Michael Marcavage of Philadelphia wrote, "The day Bourbon Street and the French Quarter were flooded was the day that 125,000 homosexuals were going to be celebrating sin in the streets."
From Israel, "Christian" journalist Stan Goodenough identified a connection between Jewish settlers losing their homes in the Gaza strip and Americans losing theirs in New Orleans. "What America is about to experience is the lifting of God’s hand of protection; the implementation of His judgment on the nation most responsible for endangering the land and people of Israel.
The Muslim extremist, Kuwaiti official Muhammad Yousef Mlaifi, agreed that God was responsible. "It is almost certain that this is a wind of torment and evil that Allah has sent to the American empire," wrote Mlaifi under the headline, "The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah."
By putting these pronouncements together, Cooperman has made the clear the problem of holding to the view that God intervenes in nature and in history. If God sends calamities or decides to not prevent them, then people of faith are driven to find explanations for this cruel and outrageous behavior on the part of a just and loving God. In my mind, many liberal Christians, who would reject all the explanations for God’s criminal action quoted from the article, participate in the problem by talking and writing as if they have an inside track to the mind of God. They tell us of God’s plan, God’s creation, God’s hope for the world. I think if we are to hold out the promise of discovering God’s love and justice, we must abandon all notions of an interventionist God. We may learn important lessons by observing history and nature, but we put ourselves in peril if we claim to learn God’s intentions.