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US Evangelical Slips: Lesson for Ethiopian Evangelicals?

US Evangelical Slips: Lesson for Ethiopian Evangelicals?

Over 100,000 are feared dead and three times that number virtually left homeless in the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Haiti. World reaction has been fast and firm. Yet another tragedy is the reaction of US evangelicals. Pat Robertson’s remarks were dubbed “heartless” – a sorry indictment by any standards. Mr. Robertson’s timing for his interpretation of events is simply unconscionable. Pastor Rick Warren’s offer to mud wrestle a Hollywood actor to raise funds may point to Yankee ingenuity but somehow is not the kind of thing one associated with a minister of the Gospel. Frank Schaeffer, son of the late-Francis Schaeffer who was the architect, so to speak, for the emergence of evangelical political action groups, goes even further to use the occasion to settle old scores. It is obvious that US evangelicals are not a cohesive group. Political ideologies, theologies of society - race, gender, and wealth - play a great deal to define them. It is in this vein that Ethiopian evangelicals should reassess their ties with Christian groups hailing especially from North America. In no way should Ethiopian evangelicals allow local agendas to be defined by outsiders who often have no more than a superficial knowledge of reality on the ground and will not be around to clean up "debris" they cause. Below are reactions culled from news media. In the meantime, let us pray for the people of Haiti. Ed.

Pat Robertson/CBN-"700 Club":
"You know ... something happened a long time ago in Haiti. … They got together and swore a pact to the Devil," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club" Wednesday. "They said, 'We will serve you if you get us free from the French.' True story." "And so, the Devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out," he went on. "You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another." In a statement on its Web site, the Christian Broadcasting Network said Robertson was speaking objectively about Haiti's history that has led "countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed.
Dr. Robert Jeffress/First Baptist Church of Dallas:
"It is absolute arrogance to try to interpret any of God's actions as a judgment against this person or that person. … Our duty as Christians is to try to help these people pray for these people and to help them."
Franklin Graham/Samaritan's Purse:
He also disagrees with Robertson's assessment. Graham's group is working in Haiti to provide humanitarian relief and, Graham said, he plans to go to the country in the coming days. "He must have misspoken," Graham said of Robertson. "But we need to get on the path of helping people right now. God loves the people of Haiti. He hasn't turned his back on Haiti."
Pastor Rick Warren/Saddleback Church
Labeling any natural disaster as God's judgment is nonsense. True “judgment begins with God's family” 1Peter4:17, not others.
UPDATE: Warren, for his part, has responded to the Haiti tragedy like a true Christian, by offering to mud wrestle comedian Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute from The Office) on Pay-Per-View for Haiti-related charities. No joke. The Twitter exchange after the jump. Wilson, who has been tweeting on Haiti relief efforts, got the attention of Warren, who tweeted.
@rainnwilson Thanks for your note,your follow & RT & your care 4 Haiti.Our PEACE Plan is there.You're the funniest guy onTV
Then Wilson responded.
Wanna wrestle sometime? RT Thx 4 yr note,yr follow & RT & yr care 4 Haiti.Our PEACE Plan is there.Yr the funniest guy onTV (via @RickWarren)
Then Warren tweeted.
@rainnwilson Rainn, sure, if in mud,on PPV & proceeds go to help Haiti! @rainnwilson Rick,wanna wrestle sometime?
Frank Schaeffer/The Huffington Post:
America's Pact With Satan - It's clear that America's Founding Fathers must have made a pact with the Devil. How else to explain the curse America is so obviously under today? I want to go even farther than Pat Robertson and tell it like it really is! (Disclosure: back in the 1970s and 80s before I quit the evangelical right, I was on the 700 Club with Pat 6 times, given my late father Francis Schaeffer was a founder of the religious right). What else besides a punishment for a satanic pact could explain the following? ... Sarah Palin, who got a heartbeat from the presidency and who believes that health care reform means there will be death panels and that she needed to have witches cast out in a Pentecostal ceremony before she'd run for governor…
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Anonymous said…
What is at issue here, is it that Ethiopians should shun American Christians, because of some loose lips? Sure, Americans do go and clean the debris, look who is working their darn-est in Haiti. I am trying to find out the ax the blogger is trying to grind, as the thesis is not very clear to me.
Thanks for your concern and comment, brother Girma. No, we have no ax to grind nor are we talking about debris in Haiti in particular. We were simply highlighting the diverse [and confusing] reactions of US Evanglicals to the Haiti disaster and cautioning Ethiopian Evangelicals to be selective, to "reassess their ties with Christian groups hailing especially from North America". God bless.