The following response was submitted to the local press this week in response to a question regarding the validity of some religious leaders claiming the earthquake in Haiti was a punishment from God:
No. I do not believe that the earthquake in Haiti was a punishment from God. Nor do I believe that Hurricane Katrina was a punishment from God. Nor do I believe that Aids or Swine Flu are punishments from God.
The God of my Universalist ancestors was understood to be a loving, creative God – not a God of vengeance and violence. It is enraging to hear that some would add ‘insult to injury’ by heaping the burden of Divine dissatisfaction upon the wounds and sorrows of people already disastrously displaced.
Aside from being cruel, insensitive and unhelpful, such accusations make me wonder about the role of humility in our religious traditions. Are we really so “in tune” that we can be certain of God’s existence, will and reasoning? Are we really so mean-spirited that we would compound another’s sufferings with these self-serving “insights”?
It seems to me that we would do well to set aside such conjecture and turn our attentions instead to the sufferings that we are empowered to ease. Let’s focus on that, shall we?