Pat Robertson and Miss Cleo

Yes folks, Pat Robertson has once again been confabbing with God and he has reported on the 700 Club that God has told him that Bush will win the 2004 election easily:

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004."

And lest you think God is merely in the business of handicapping elections, Pat even implies that Bush is in office because God wants him to be, that God has raised him up intentionally:

"The Lord has just blessed him. I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and comes out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him."

So, according to Pat, no matter what Bush does, God is going to "pick him up", and apparently, make sure that he is reelected. Nor is Pat Robertson the only one who has said this. Gen. William Boykin, who got into a controversy over his comments to church groups that we are engaged in a holy war against Islam, also said that he believed God had chosen Bush personally to be the president. He is quoted as saying:

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

It leaves one to wonder how exactly he intends to do this. I mean, if Bush were going to be reelected anyway (which I'm reasonably sure is true regardless), then it is folly to attribute that fact to the will of God. But what if Bush wouldn't get elected without God's help? How would the great and powerful Jehovah go about insuring this outcome?

There are really only two possibilities. Either he changes the minds of people who would otherwise not vote for Bush, or he changes the ballots around after they cast their votes are cast to make sure that Bush wins enough electoral votes. In either instance, would this not be a violation of free will? Either God is overriding the beliefs and choices of enough people to swing the election in America, or he's thwarting their ability to have their voices heard and their votes counted. This seems a rather vile thing to accuse ol' Yahweh of doing. Some might even say it's blasphemy to propose that He would do such a thing.

It also makes one wonder....does anyone watching Pat Robertson utter such inanities bother to think about the implications of it? There really does seem to be something about fundamentalism (of all types, though fundamentalist Christianity is the one I'm most familiar with) that causes people to simply shut down their brains while being preached at. Let me give a couple of examples...

Two weeks ago I attended a church service in an independent evangelical church to see my niece sing. During the sermon, the pastor was musing about how the Star of Bethlehem that led the magi to the manger might be explained by "skeptics". After making much of his own "academical" approach to such questions, he mentioned that some historians have suggested that perhaps it was not a star but was instead the convergence of 3 planets that would, according to astronomers, have occured at some point around year zero. He shook his head in silent admonition of such an obviously silly explanation. After all, he smugly intoned, "planets don't move, only stars do." I looked around. Heads were nodding, the Flock was smiling - the pastor had disproven those heathen doubters! As far as I could tell, not a single member of the congregation recognized the sheer stupidity of his statement.

Another example, from the TV preacher Rod Parsley of Columbus, Ohio. I was flipping the channels on cable many years ago and came across his preaching just in time to hear this little gem,

"How do I know that the Bible is the word of God? Because it's the only book that claims to be the word of God. So I don't need the Koran....I don't need the book of Mormon...."

The camera panned the congregation as women lifted their arms over their heads, their eyes tightly closed, their mouths silently saying, "praise Jesus". Men shouted Amen and Preach it Brother, apparently oblivious to the monumental absurdity of what the preacher had just said.

I don't in any way mean to suggest that Christians are less intelligent than any other group. I know a great many Christians who are brilliant and well educated. But I do think it's true that fundamentalism in all of its forms tends to attract the simpleminded and the dull. This makes them easy pickins for religious hucksters like Pat Robertson, who continually say the most ridiculous things and get away with it only because their audience isn't bright enough to think it through for themselves.


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