Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have long been held responsible by some Christian conservatives for causing many of the greatest natural disasters of modern times. For example, back in May 1978, Anita Bryant, Florida Orange Juice queen and chief organizer of her so-called “Save Our Children” campaign to overturn a gay-rights ordinance in Dade County called homosexuals “human garbage,” and she blamed the California drought on their sinful behavior. Ironically, however, one day following the first openly-gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk’s November 8 election, and six months following Bryant’s claim, it started to rain. (Clendinen & Nagourney, p. 306. Clendinen, Dudley, and Nagourney, Adam (1999). Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, Simon & Schuster.)
On the opposite side of the coin, others blamed the torrential winds, rain, and devastating flooding of hurricane Katrina in 2005 on gay people. Reverend John Haggee, evangelical pastor of a “mega-church” in Texas was quoted in an NPR interview with Terry Gross in 2006 saying that “God caused Hurricane Katrina to wipe out New Orleans because it had a gay pride parade the week before and was filled with sexual sin.” Televangelist Pat Robertson has most likely talked to God who told him of an upcoming calamity. After Orlando, Florida city officials in 1998 voted to fly rainbow flags high atop city lampposts during Disney World’s annual Gay Days events, Robertson issued a stern warning to the city: “… I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you. … [A] condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs, it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.” Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Robertson, along with his conspiratorial-theory evangelical buddy Jerry Falwell reiterated past warnings. Falwell, with an air of righteousness, proclaimed on Roberson’s 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network on September 13, 2001: “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, 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!'” To this Robertson responded: “I totally concur.” The cause for wide-spread and devastating health pandemics have also been laid at the feet of gay people. For example, Ronald Reagan, under whose presidency the AIDS epidemic was detected and spread, had not formally raised the issue until April 1, 1987 in a speech to a group of physicians in Philadelphia — a full seven years after the onset of AIDS in the United States. Before this, however, when AIDS was perceived by many as a disease of primarily gay and bisexual men, Pat Buchanan, who served as Reagan’s Chief of Communications between 1985-1987 was quite outspoken, referring to AIDS as nature’s “awful retribution,” and saying it did not deserve a thorough and compassionate response. Writing in 1986, Buchanan claimed: “The poor homosexuals — they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution.” (Los Angeles Times, 11/28/86). Also, back in 1983, Buchanan demanded that New York City Mayor Ed Koch and New York Governor Mario Cuomo cancel the Gay Pride Parade or else “be held personally responsible for the spread of the AIDS plague.” And later: “With 80,000 dead of AIDS, our promiscuous homosexuals appear literally hell-bent on Satanism and suicide.” (syndicated column, 10/17/90).
Later in 2007, Falwell extended the blame: “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” (Bill Press, The Sad Legacy of Jerry Falwell.) Some even fault gays for ultimately bringing about the total destruction of humanity itself. In his annual “State of the World” address at the Vatican delivered to diplomats from 179 countries, Pope Benedict XVI, on January 9, 2012, released a dire warning stating that marriage for same-sex couples “undermine the family, threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” The pontiff stated earlier on December 22, 2008 at a Christmas address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration, likening saving humanity from homosexual and gender-variant behaviors to saving the rainforest from destruction: “(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed.The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.” The Pope warned that humans must “listen to the language of creation” and understand the intended roles of man and woman. He compared behavior outside heterosexual relations as “a destruction of God’s work.” But now, Ms. Bryant, Reverends Haggee, Robertson, and Falwell, Mr. Buchanan, and Pope Benedict XVI, you better tell the gays to move over, for they no longer have a monopoly on blame in bringing on world disasters. Now Republicans are joining them in this select club.
As God tested Abraham (the patriarch of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims) by demanding that he kill his beloved son Isaac, now hurricane Isaac has returned in a deadly tumult to test the very moral authority of the Republicans at their convention in Tampa. Wait, glory be, I think I hear God speaking. Yes, yes, indeed, God is telling me that I must notify the Republicans of this in no uncertain terms: “Republicans,” God revealed to me in deep, thundering, and ferocious tones, “I command you to reverse your twisted and cynical course. You must return to the path of righteousness. I demand that you to follow the Democrats by serving the masses rather than simply the interests of the rich and super rich few! This I require of you to enact immediately!” Whew, that was scary, and it totally sapped my strength. Wake up, wake up. Okay, I’m back. Oye, I should feel blessed that God has entrusted me with such a heavy responsibility. I guess that gays need now to step aside, for God has willed Republicans to take their place in the blame game. So Republicans, I suppose you need to consider yourselves warned! So God, is there anything else …?
Former Associate Professor at the School of Education at Iowa State University and currently in the College of Education, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of “The What, The So What, and The Now What of Social Justice Education”, and “Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice”, co-editor of “Readings for Diversity and Social Justice”, editor of “Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price”, co-editor of “Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States”, and co-author of “Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life”.