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Why God Caused Hurricane Sandy

Contributor: Scott Allswang | November, 2012
 
When traumatic events strike, it is very common for people to look for causes that seem to explain events. Most commonly, for those who do not find purely scientific answers satisfying, the tendency is to ascribe the event to God. God is, after all, the author of all things, and it seems reasonable to look to him for explanation. How, then, can we understand the occurrence of such evil forces as Hurricane Sandy, if God is good.
 
Jesuit writer Nathan O'Halloran, while deflecting away from God direct responsibility for natural events like Hurricane Sandy, does find religious justification for our tendency to blame God for such disasters. He points out, in effect, that our beliefs about what God has done say more about us than they say about God.
 
“[O]riginal sin 'causes' Hurricane Sandy in the sense that, because of original sin, human beings now perceive and experience hurricanes and other natural disasters as 'evil' in some sense rather than simply being. This is a more indirect sense in which original sin 'causes' a hurricane. By this I mean that it 'causes' a hurricane as an evil when before it would have not been perceived as such. According to this perspective, hurricanes and natural disasters always existed, but the first self-conscious beings may not have experienced them as evil.”
 
In proposing that God creates hurricanes to cause harm to men, commentators are focusing on one of the aspects of God: retribution for sins. And Hurricane Sandy has caused lots of such comments. Several preachers of suggested that Sandy was visited upon United States because of homosexuality. As an example, John McTernan opines:
“I am not saying this super destructive hurricane was because of the homosexual act. The Holy God of Israel will judge individuals for their sinful acts.
 
“What I am saying is the judgment is for the government promoting homosexual 'marriage' as an ordinance. Once a nation legalizes sin, like abortion and homosexual “marriage”: that nation falls under the direct judgment of the Holy God of Israel. God does not destroy a nation right away but first warns.”
 
Or, in the alternative, McTernan suggests perhaps it's because of our policy towards Israel:
 
“Hurricane Sandy is hitting 21 years to the day of the Perfect Storm of October 30, 1991 . . . . This was the day that President George Bush Sr. initiated the Madrid Peace Process to divide the land of Israel, including Jerusalem. America has been under God’s judgment since this event. Both of these hurricanes were cause by freakish weather patterns that came together to create (sic).” 
 
That judgment was echoed by WND White House correspondent William Koenig, who told us, “When we put pressure on Israel to divide their land, we have enormous, record-setting events, often within 24 hours . . . Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 – we have experienced over 90 record-setting, all-time events as we have acted against Israel. And the greater the pressure on Israel to ‘cooperate,’ the greater the catastrophe.”
 
Some proclamation sounded almost gleeful. Writing on an Islamic extremist blog, one person had this to add: "God destroys their country like they destroyed ours (Iraq). This is on the head of the dog Obama." This is an inverse mirror image of McTernan's and Koenig's claim. A series of tweets from Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church, was similar in tone. After Sandy cause destruction in the Caribbean, she tweeted: “God sent the whirlwind. 
 
#ThankGodForRighteousJudgment,” and later, “wrath from God hangs over NY and Doomed USA like a Sword of Damocles.”
 
Another claimant assured us that Sandy was sent by God as punishment for a court allowing a lesbian to have visitation rights with a child of a previous union.
 
Thses comments have a common theme: that God was punishing America for immoral acts. Another writer put it more generally:
 
“This time around God’s will is simply a message to the United States: As your culture and your lifestyles continue to erode, so too will my judgement upon you come quickly. My grandmother used to say 'God is tired, he doesn’t want to punish us'. She was right, God doesn’t take pleasure in allow these things to happen, he doesn’t take pleasure in millions of lives destroyed. He wants us to live righteous and turn to him, not turn away from him. Unfortunately it takes such events to make people sit down and think about how they life their lives.”
 
But some people were willing to take a position based on their political views, rather than on moral principles. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has not made the claim specifically about Sandy, but has stated that previous natural disasters were caused by the government's economic policies: "I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."
 
A climate change activist, who may or may not have been serious in his proposal, suggested that Sandy was sent by God to remind us that we have not dealt with global warming. “Perhaps this weather scare that may well be much more than just a scare is God’s revenge for the refusal of the U.S. government to take action on the climate crisis.”
 
 
All of these people seem to be claiming that they have knowledge of God's intention in sending a hurricane. But the motivations they claim for God's actions differ widely, and even contradict each other. That suggests that if they do have some access to the thoughts of God, there is a lot of noise in the communications channel.
 
If there is a common theme in these pronouncements, it is that they reflect the concerns and positions of the people who make the claims. This wide variety serves to confirm and validate the conclusions of a University of Chicago study, which found that we find the motivations of God from with in our own hopes and fears.
 
“People may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions and making decisions based on what they presume God as the ultimate moral authority would believe or want. The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”

Source: Examiner