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Many have tried, but few have succeeded. Some have made it part of their regular schtick, and make a handsome living by doing it over and over again. But try as they might, the gold standard for blaming a natural disaster -- or tragic event -- on their enemies of choice, is still held by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Now, however, with floodwaters raging in his state, Colorado pastor and radio talk show host Kevin Swanson is aiming to be a contender in the pantheon of blame-game flame-throwers. Swanson recently pointed his finger at the real causers of the floods: abortion, the legalization of marijuana, and "decadent homosexual activity." Climate change? Not so much. (For some time, Swanson resided in the school of global warming denial.)
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In trying to make some sense of the cause of natural disasters, some conservative evangelical preachers have gone off the rails. Hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, floods, earthquakes and yes, even the less-than-natural terrorist attack, is blamed on abortion, gays, and yes, even the American Civil Liberties Union.
Over the past decade, while many have played the blame the "sinner" card, no one has yet to reach the depths of Falwell's rhetorical rubbish, who after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, appeared on Robertson's program and blamed gays, abortion rights activists, the ACLU, and others on his personal enemies list.
Robertson stood by his side nodding in approval when Falwell said: "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.'"
Later, Falwell, possibly realizing that he had gone way too far, issued what many characterized as an SYA (Save Your Ass) remark rather than a legitimate apology. First he excused the remarks as being taken out of context. Then he said he was and making a "theological statement, not a legal statement." He told CNN he "would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."
Falwell added: "I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says 'living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame.'" The ACLU and other civil liberties organizations "have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded," he pointed out. "I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812."
Pastor Kevin Swanson on Colorado floods
Now, it's Kevin Swanson's turn. On his Generations With Vision radio show, Swanson, who pastors at Reformation Church OPC, "reminded listeners that state House Speaker Mark Ferrandino had been photographed by the Denver Post kissing his gay partner," Raw Story recently reported.
"Is it a coincidence that this was the worst year politically in the history of Colorado, at least if you use God's law as a means of determining human ethics?" Swanson asked. "Our legislators committed homosexual acts on the front page of the Denver Post, do you remember that?"
He continued: "So here we have the very worst year in Colorado's year in terms of let's kill as many babies as possible, let's make sure we encourage as much decadent homosexual activity as possible, let's break God's law with impudence at every single level, at every single level let's make sure that we offend whoever wrote the Bible, so we have the worst year possible politically in the state of Colorado and it happens to be the worst year ever in terms of flood and fire damage in Colorado's history."
This isn't Swanson's first turn at bat: Earlier this year, according to People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch, he placed the blame for the forest fires hitting the state on "liberal abortion laws and the recent success of civil union legislation."
On Generations Radio, which he co-hosts with Dave Buehner, Swanson said When you have a state where the House leadership is performing a homosexual act on the front page of the Denver Post two months ago? Does God read the Denver Post? Do you think He picks up a copy of the Denver Post? He gets it. God gets the Denver Post."
The irony that the fires raged in Colorado Springs, the home to numerous conservative Christian organizations wasn't lost on Buehner. He said Coloradans should be glad God "hasn't destroyed the whole state yet" as "an act of grace." Why Colorado Springs? "Why not wipe out Boulder or Denver" where all the Democrats live? He answered his own question: "Judgment begins in the House of God."
In early September, Raw Story reported that Swanson cast his lot with the Rev. Fred Phelps, the well-known anti-gay/hate-monger from Topeka, Kansas, saying:
"I think you can attend a wedding if you hold a up a sign that reads Leviticus 20:13," Swanson added. "I think that would be appropriate. You could attend a wedding and hold up a sign with Leviticus 20:13. You know, word for word: 'If a man sleeps with a man as he sleeps with a woman the two of them have committed an abomination and they shall both be put to death.' You could attend a wedding and hold up that sign.'"
If Swanson keeps it up, he may relegate Falwell & Robertson to the trash heap of right-wing trash talking.
(Photo: The National Guard).