Prominent Christian leaders and evangelists have argued that Hurricane Katrina’s destruction and its aftermath are signs of God’s punishment on America. Franklin Graham, Hal Lindsay, Chuck Colson and Pat Robertson each suggested they knew God’s purposeful reasons in sending the hurricane.
While other Christians have made similar comments, these individuals represent the most well-known and influential Christian leaders to make these claims.
Franklin Graham, son of the famed evangelist Billy Graham, was asked on Fox New’s Hannity & Colmes on Sept. 1 about the looting that occurred in New Orleans following the flooding. Graham, whose relief agency Samaritan’s Purse has sent disaster relief teams to the region, answered: “This happens in our country when we have taken God out of our schools and God out of society. We don’t have a moral standard.”
Hal Lindsay, author of The Late Great Planet Earth, argued that it occurred because of U.S. support of Israel’s withdrawal of Gaza. In a Sept. 10 column he wrote: “Since America has forsaken the Christian principles on which our country was founded and on which all our founding documents were based, God’s gracious protection that is so evident in American history is being withdrawn. We are also forcing God’s people, Israel, into indefensible positions in the land God swore on oath to give them forever. I believe unless there is a major national repentance, America is in for worse catastrophes than can possibly be imagined.”
Chuck Colson, the former Watergate felon who now heads Prison Fellowship, suggested God attempted to get the nation’s attention with the hurricane to get it better prepared for possible terrorist attacks.
On his Sept, 12 “Breakpoint” radio broadcast Colson argued: “Hurricane Katrina was a wake-up call to this country.… Did God have anything to do with Katrina? people asked. My answer is: He allowed it, and perhaps He allowed it to get our attention, so that we don’t delude ourselves into thinking that all we have to do is put things back the way they were and life will be normal again.”
Pat Robertson linked the disaster to confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, particularly to senators who would make upholding of Roe v. Wade a litmus test for justices.
“People say the litmus test for Roberts is whether or not he supports the wholesale slaughter of unborn children,” Robertson said Sept. 12 on “The 700 Club.” “We have killed over 40 million unborn babies in America.”
Robertson said God in the Old Testament says about those who shed innocent blood, “the land will vomit you out,” leaving them unable to defend themselves.
“But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster?” he asked. “Could they be connected in some way?”
He continued: “And the amazing thing is, a judge has now got to say, ‘I will support the wholesale slaughter of innocent children’ in order to get confirmed to the bench. And I am sure Judge Roberts is not going to say any such thing. But nevertheless, that’s the litmus test that’s being put on, the very thing that could endanger our nation. And it’s very interesting. Read the Bible. Read Leviticus. See what it says there.”
Other Christian leaders have made similar comments since Hurricane Katrina struck, including Rick Scarborough of Vision America, Michael Marcavage of Repent America, Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and Bill Shank of New Orleans. Additionally, Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas made similar comments at a rally with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who did not repudiate the comments.
Some Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists have also declared Hurricane Katrina to be a sign of God’s judgment on America.
Brian Kaylor is communications specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.