Pat Robertson Acts Like Christianity's
Ayatollah Khomeini & words on Gun Control
The following comes from Jim Taylor's weekly
email column "Sharpedges".
Sunday January 15, 2006
PAT ROBERTSON ACTS LIKE CHRISTIANITY'S AYATOLLAH
Pat Robertson has every right to express an
opinion about current political situations. Pat Robertson has
every right to base that opinion on his interpretation of someone
else's opinion, written some 2500 years earlier, about a different
But Pat Robertson has no right to claim that
this is God's will.
Pat Robertson -- as you may or may not have
heard -- announced last weekend that the massive stroke suffered
by Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon was divine punishment for
Sharon's plan to "divide the land" between Israelis and
The 1995 assassination of previous prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin was also divine intervention, according to
There are three serious flaws in Robertson's
The first is that he is personally inconsistent.
If God intervenes in human affairs to punish those who offend God,
surely it cannot have escaped Robertson's notice that God's wrath
has been vented this last year mainly on the southern U.S. states
from the Carolinas to Texas, the states that provide the strongest
support for Robertson and his brand of Christianity?
Hurricanes did not batter Minneapolis. Floods
did not flatten Vermont. Tornadoes did not level Seattle. If
Robertson were truly consistent, he would have to conclude that
God prefers the policies of the Democratic Party, and wants to
The second problem is that Robertson doesn't
know how to read the Bible. He knows the words, but he fails to
recognize that words never exist independently. Words are always
addressed to a particular context.
Indeed, words only take on meaning in context.
In my editing workshops, I point out that words like
"bow," "bark," and "fast" have
multiple meanings. The specific meaning does not come clear until
that word is fixed in the context of a sentence.
Robertson reads words attributed to a man named
Joel, who lived approximately 500 years before the birth of Jesus.
Biblical scholars call Joel a "minor prophet" -- that
is, he was considered even by his own Hebrew people as less
important than the major prophets like Elijah, Isaiah, and
A biblical prophet was not a seer who peered
into a crystal ball and forecast events in the distant future. A
prophet, in biblical terms, is a person who looks at an existing
situation with clear eyes, and says, in effect, "Here's what
will happen if you keep doing what you're doing."
David Suzuki does the same thing today for
climate change; Jared Diamond does it for societal survival.
TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT
Further, Robertson takes one phrase out of Joel,
and elevates it to universal significance.
The verse in question (Joel 3:2) says that God
will "gather all nations" and "enter into judgement
with them.on account of my people and my heritage.because they
have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my
Those last three words form the basis for
Robertson's assertion that God deliberately punished Ariel Sharon
for daring to grant limited autonomy to a separate Palestinian
Joel, said Robertson on his TV program The 700
Club, "makes it very clear that God has enmity against those
who 'divide my land'."
Robertson chooses to ignore the broader context
of Joel's "prophecy" -- the exile of the Hebrew people
He ignores the rest of Joel's accusations --
that the aggressors have "cast lots for my people, and traded
boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine."
And he ignores the literary tradition of
biblical prophets to speak in metaphors. Joel's primary metaphor
is a plague of locusts. Later verses make clear that the
"locusts" refer to foreign armies that have invaded
Israel and laid it waste.
Joel, in other words, is speaking about outside
influences. He has little to say for or against Israel's internal
Robertson, however, assumes that Joel intended
his words as a direct criticism of Ariel Sharon's peace plan.
That's about as ridiculous as assuming that Robertson himself is
not referring to current events at all, but is treating Sharon's
illness as a metaphor for some political event 2500 years in the
future, perhaps in a colony of humans on Pluto.
A CAPTIVE GOD
Underlying all of these points lies an even more
dangerous assumption -- that God is not a God of all peoples, all
nations, and all creatures, but is the private property of a
particular people who, for whatever reason, have God by the short
This God is supposed to intervene on behalf of
those individuals and nations, to alter the course of history, to
upset the laws of nature. Even to deflect a flying football out of
the hands of an intended receiver.
In case you've missed my point, Pat Robertson
makes me sick. He's the Ayatollah Khomeini of the Christian
If Robertson represents the Christian faith
today, I want to disassociate myself from him, and from the faith
he pretends to profess.
I was pleased to see that the White House
immediately rejected Robertson's charges. "These comments are
wholly inappropriate and offensive and really don't have a place
in this or any other debate," said presidential spokesperson
Trent Duffy in Washington.
But I can't forget that Robertson represents the
conservative theology espoused by the president himself. He
represents the ideology of right-wing Republicans who put the
president in power and who keep him there. He represents the
biblical literalism of school boards in places like Kansas that
require Genesis to be taught as science, equal with evolution.
Robertson is, in short, a symbol of the
"plague of locusts" that afflicts U.S. policy in
Until the White House declares that the whole
basis for Robertson's comments is "inappropriate and
offensive" and "has no place in this or any other
debate," I must regard anything coming out of the White House
And unless God decides to smite Pat Robertson
with some appalling affliction, I cannot believe in a God who
meddles selectively in human affairs.
Copyright © 2006 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations
and study groups permitted; all other rights reserved.
I should never leap to conclusions. I expected last week's column,
recommending the banning of handguns, to generate a fairly strong
But I also expected most of the flack to come
from south of the border, down U.S.A. way, where carrying a
handgun is almost an act of patriotism. I was wrong. The flack
came from Canadians.
Peter T wrote a remarkably mild letter.
"There are some factual errors in your column.
"First, you CAN hunt with a handgun in
Ontario if you have lost the use of one arm.
"Second, in Ontario wilderness workers can
get a wilderness handgun carry permit for personal protection.
"Third, civilian sport target shooters do
not use human shaped targets. I have over the last 35 years
participated in both American style and international/ Olympic
style sport pistol shooting up to the national level and have
never seen a human shape used as a target. Even the radical
International practical pistol shooting shooters use a plain brown
rectangle. Only government employees training as police or
military use human form targets.
"There are at least three broad classes of
handguns available in Ontario. The international
"Olympic" style target guns are large, fragile, with
large sights, chambered in low powered ,low recoiling cartridges
that are totally unsuitable for shooting people. The large
revolvers for wilderness carry cartridges intended to stop large
bears at close range. Their tremendous recoil requires long
training to be used adequately. They are not readily concealable
and are of little use to criminals. Thirdly are the
"service" pistols intended for police or military use.
They are chambered in mid sized cartridges at the upper limit of
control in recoil. This is the class of handguns used by
"Sport target handgun shooting is as
legitimate as any other Olympic sport. In conclusion your premise
that there are no legitimate use for any handgun is in
Tom R blasted the federal gun registry
program as a huge waste of money that could have been much better
spent on health care or education. He went on: "Large-bore
handguns are used for self-defence against bears. Small-bore guns
are used to gather food like grouse and rabbit. When you have a
bunch of gear on your back, it's not practical or realistic to
carry a rifle on your shoulder, too. If danger approaches, you
can't guarantee time to unsling it and shoot a bear."
I'm not yet convinced that shooting should
considered a sport, Olympic or otherwise. But I was clearly wrong
in stating that handguns had no use in wilderness situations.
Jorgen H argued that a ban on handguns was
a futile gesture: "It is like banning marijuana or cocaine.
You can ban lawful gun owners but you can not ban the punk in the
street from having a hand gun. Drugs and illegal guns are closely
related-- guns are the tool of the drug trade. The honest citizen,
who belongs to a shooting range, follows the government rules . is
not the person who does the drug deals or the gang wars or the
"In Toronto, the guns come across the USA
border by the smugglers of drugs who also deal in the tools used
for drug deals. These guns are not and will never be
"If Paul Martin wants Canada to be a safe
place from 'illegal' guns then we have to have very stiff
sentences for carrying or using illegal guns. Calling for a ban on
handguns is not going to remove the guns from the streets. If
these street punks were to receive an automatic 10 year
sentence--no parole -- of hard time for having an un registered
weapon or using one in crime, maybe they will actually think about
it first. Hard time for hard crime."
The theme of stiffer penalties and more rigorous
enforcement ran through several Canadian replies. Dave de B
wrote: "The concept of granting bail to someone who has
already threatened or even taken a life boggles my mind. There
should be no alternative -- he or she has forfeited any right to
freedom till the matter has been resolved in court.
"Carrying a weapon, whether a gun, knife or
tire-iron, into a bar, nightclub or any other public place should
automatically be considered a pre-meditated act. It certainly is
not something one could do unknowingly, or accidentally. If then
that weapon results in injury or death the crime must have been
pre-meditated. Whether the actual victim was targeted is of no
consequence. The concept of using the weapon had in fact been
considered as a possibility before the crime occurred."
Howard M let me have both barrels:
"Cars kill more people by far than firearms, yet I don't hear
you or anyone else getting on the band-wagon and advocating that
the Government ban cars. Guns DO NOT kill people, people kill
people period. Cars DO NOT kill people, drivers (people) do. The
same as no car has ever started up, left its garage and went out
on the street to kill people, guns of their own volition have
never leaped out of their own gun safe or owner's home to go on a
man killing hunt."
In subsequent correspondence (yes, I do respond
to many who disagree with me!) Howard M admitted, "I
just see red when anybody says ban firearms of any
Howard M and others defended target
shooting as a peaceful use of handguns. When I suggested people
could take up other hobbies, he asked, "I wonder what you
would say if the government said they were going to ban writing,
or that you couldn't have any books to read? And told you there
were other hobbies available and told you that only police and
military could read newspapers or books?"
By contrast with the above, Sandra M
wrote, "I totally agree with your stance on handguns. Deaths
by handguns, including accidental shootings, are unfortunately
maintained at a high rate here in San Antonio, Texas, USA. I wish
more people would read your column, take it seriously and WAKE
Jim W, a military chaplain, I believe, wrote
from San Diego: "When I served a congregation in Detroit,
sometimes I would go across the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor and
see a sign, "Handguns Forbidden". All these years I had
thought that there were no handguns in Canada. False security or
not, Windsor was a marked contrast to Detroit. Perhaps it is an
underlying culture difference with the expectation that it is not
only wrong but quite rude to shoot people. In the US it is still
shoot first, ask questions later."
Jim S wrote (from in Canada, I think):
"It was most unfortunate that Paul Martin made a token call
for a ban on handguns without adding in your six points. This is
of a piece with his tokenism on the Kyoto accord. He signs on to
the accord but does precious little to meet emission reduction
targets and [then] castigates the Americans who have a better