Anthea Butler -- like me a graduate of Fuller Seminary, and an expert in Pentecostalism -- has offered a first take on Pat Robertson's embarrassing and dangerous remarks (to watch him, click here.) Writing for Religion Dispatches, she offers some context that is helpful, for Pat is continuing a long held Euro-centric view of reality that undermines the Gospel and the church's efforts to be a truly healing presence in the world.
This narrative of radicalized supremacy and good old ignorance that permeates certain sectors of Pentecostalism and Charismatic movements is masked in statements like Robertson's. To the faithful, it sounds like truth: after all, look at all the missionaries there, trying to save the poor black benighted souls of those people. Never mind the fact that Haiti has been a Catholic stronghold, or that missionaries from various groups have been on the island for generations. And yes, people practice Vodun, but so what? In a disaster, help should not be predicated upon what a person's belief system is. As President Obama said in his remarks on Haiti, "Finally, let me just say that this is a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share." In disastrous times, doctrinal purity is not at issue. Those in need want help. The evidence: news reports of cries, prayers, and hymns singing throughout the night. But that sounds like devil worshippers to Pat.
Indeed, let us remember at this moment our common humanity and reach out to those in need. Blaming the victim in order to warrant evangelistic efforts is simply, in my mind, contrary to the gospel.