BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A prominent Christian right radio broadcaster recently claimed that the terrorist attacks in Paris was an example of God’s use of “idolators” to punish the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, for mocking Christianity. The perpetrators of the murderous attacks on the magazine, and a Jewish grocery store, stated that they were out to avenge the mocking of Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo. While both were correct in their assessments of the work of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, and while they are not two peas from the same pod, their stated beliefs does make for a strange confluence of religiosity.
According to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, on a recent broadcast the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer claimed that the terrorist murders in Paris were actually God’s way of punishing staff members of Charlie Hebdo for mocking Christianity.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” Fischer told his listeners. “They [Charlie Hebdo] made a career out of taking the name of God, the God of the Bible, the father of the Lord Jesus,” Fischer added.
According to Raw Story’s Travis Gettys, Fischer “cited biblical passages such as Exodus 20 that suggested God would use ‘idolators’ to punish blasphemers, so it wasn’t out of the question that Muslims terrorists would carry out the Lord’s divine retribution.”
“You look in the Old Testament at what happened to Judah, God used a pagan nation, I mean, he used idolators, he used the savage armies of Babylon to discipline his own people,” Fischer said. “He brought them in as the rod of his wrath to discipline the nation of Judah.”
“Fischer’s comments aren’t surprising, given his well-known tendency to embrace extreme views,” Rob Boston, Director of Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told me in an email. “There is an uncomfortable truth lurking behind his statement: Fischer has more in common with Islamic extremists than he may care to acknowledge. While Fischer has not called for violence, his social policies are virtually identical to those put forth by Wahhabis.
“When it comes to issues like LGBT rights, the role of women in society, secular education, acceptance of modern science, human sexuality and so on, fundamentalists tend to be interchangeable across denominational lines. Strip away the sectarian references, and it’s difficult to tell whether you’re listening to an American TV preacher or a radical imam on YouTube.”
After years of monitoring and writing about the Religious Right, I remain dumbfounded as to why Christian Right broadcasters, preachers, and others insist on going the “It’s-God’s-punishment/warning” route to explain just about any event; from hurricanes and tornadoes to economic downturns, from terrorist attacks, to plane crashes, and disappearing airliners.
Last year, after the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, Anne Graham Lotz, the Reverend Billy Graham’s daughter, was quick to point out that the plane’s disappearance might very well be a sign that The Rapture might be around the corner.
In a piece, titled "Malaysian Airliner Disappearance Offers Snapshot of Post-Rapture World Shock," Anne Graham Lotz wrote: "I can't help but wonder: Is this worldwide sense of shock and helplessness, of questions and confusion, of fear and grief a glimpse of things to come? Is this a small snapshot of what the entire world will experience the day after the rapture of the church?"
Over the past few years, Billy Graham's son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of the tax-exempt Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, claimed that President Barack Obama was "waving his fist before God," and that America's economic difficulties were due to America having “turned our backs on God."
I suppose, using Graham’s meme, the country’s nascent economic recovery is an indicator that we are now facing God!
Americans United’s Rob Boston pointed out that “In a free society, everyone’s views are fair game for criticism. People have the right to mock, poke fun at, satirize, lampoon and ridicule the religious and philosophical beliefs of others. [Bryan] Fischer apparently believes that because his fundamentalist Christian beliefs are ‘true,’ a wrathful deity will shield them from these types of attacks -- and even employ violence to that end. With that, he is in perfect accord with Muslim extremists who will tolerate no criticism of their strict interpretation of what they believe is the one true faith.