Damning the dead

Published 9:21 am Saturday, January 16, 2010

Many remember Pat Robertson’s statements that Sept. 11, 2009, was God’s judgment on America for institutionalizing gay marriage. Robertson made headlines again on Wednesday by saying the devastating earthquake in Haiti was due to a pact the people made with the Devil.

“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” Robertson said on the 700 Club. “They were under the heel of the French … and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you, if you get us free from the French.’”

The Christian Broadcasting Network issued a statement after the show saying Robertson had based his comments on 1791 Haitian folklore. Legend has it that the slaves made a pact with the Devil in exchange for victory over the French. When the people revolted against the French, they gained their freedom. Since then, however, they have remained a plagued and poor country.

I’m not here to bash the conservative movement or Robertson. I have my own ties to both. But, I do disagree with his timing and approach. God may work through natural causes, but pointing a finger at a broken and needy people in their direst hour is not proper or Christian behavior, in my opinion.

If you hand someone a helping hand with a hot coal in your palm, you do them little good.

I saw the same thing happen this week surrounding the death of 17-year-old Michael Lee, a Lakeland High School student.

Lee’s friends, family and teachers say he was a honor student, dedicated football player, loved his family and was a diligent worker and loyal friend. His death, however, took place at a party on a Saturday night when a fight inside a home moved outdoors and shots were fired.

A young man’s life was ended that night. Yet, people pointed fingers at him.

Was there another side of Lee that people weren’t talking about? Who knows? Perhaps. But, just as is the case with Haiti, what should it matter now?

What was done is done, and in both cases an irreversible catastrophe killed people and will scar those left in their wake.

It is my belief that individuals will be judged according to their lives, but who are we to assign those judgments?

I’m guilty of jumping to conclusions and assigning judgments when it’s not my business, but when it comes down to it, we ought to be looking for a way to comfort the hurt, not damn the dead. That may not always be the case, when a wrong can be made right. But, when the losses are such as these, what good do our words do?