God Sure Goes for Killing Innocent People

MEMRI reports that “Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid” is claiming that “Hurricane Sandy is Allah’s punishment for Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Meantime, Rabbi Noson Leiter [UPDATE: starting around 2:45] is claiming that Hurricane Sandy is God’s message about the “same-gender-marriage recognition movement.”

A few years ago, “Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans” praised God for using Hurricane Katrina to make “New Orleans … abortion free,” “Mardi Gras free,” “free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion.”

And of course this is an echo of Jerry Falwell’s famously saying that 9/11 happened because God was “mad” about abortion, and also about “the pagans, … and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’” (Pat Robertson totally concurred.)

I’m aware that this is indeed long-established theology among some. It just doesn’t portray that brand of religion in a particularly good light, it seems to me.

UPDATE: Here’s one way of thinking about this: Religious people often argue several things together — God is just, God is all-knowing, God is all-powerful, and following their brand of religion will lead people to behave more morally.

That seems to be a hard argument to make when at the same time they say that God kills innocent people in order to punish other people (though of course believing in him means we ourselves would never ever do that). Yes, it’s theoretically reconcilable, on the theory that it’s OK for God but not for us, and that God moves in mysterious ways. It just doesn’t fit well my understanding of how human beings actually function; if their greatest moral guide does things like this, it seems not unlikely that this will bleed over into their beliefs as well. And, beyond this, such an explanation of how God supposedly operates doesn’t make this brand of religion any more appealing — or worthy of respect — for those who don’t yet believe in it.