Republicans are always falling all over themselves to try to pander to the evangelical vote. Assuming the existence of God, you would think that if this emphasis by the GOP on the ecclesiastical were genuine and appreciated, you would see the effect in terms of all kinds of divine preferential treatment. The Old or Hebrew Testament talks about God leveling mountains, sending plagues and destroying entire opposing armies in favor of those who worshipped Him. At the very least, if the GOP were God’s own, wouldn’t you at least expect to see some preferential weather on their behalf for the Republican convention and perhaps a severe thunderstorm for Obama’s speech at the end of the Democratic Convention? If not preferential weather, maybe at least non-catastrophic?
Those who read and understand the bible and are believers would almost have to draw interesting conclusions from the beautiful weather for Obama’s speech and the genesis of Gustav and its projected path at this exact moment in time. One of the worst perceived failures of the Republican Party, its policies, George W. Bush, and John McCain was the preparation for and response to hurricane Katrina. As we enter the final phase of this election campaign, a hurricane that reminds the public of the GOP’s Katrina failures has to be one of the worst things that could happen to Republicans. The fact that the landfall of the hurricane coincides with the first two days of the Republican convention and would completely disrupt it and take away needed coverage is an unbelievable coincidence.
As someone who went to several years of Hebrew school in preparation for my Bar Mitzvah, I’ll tell you of what this reminds me. It reminds me of the story of David and Bathsheba. After David, who already had 50 or so wives, intentionally sent Bathsheba’s husband to his death in a dangerous battle so he could have her, the Bible says that God affected the weather so that the Hebrew’s crops would not grow. This divine judgment was inflicted upon an entire people for the immoral actions of its king. George W. Bush sent the US Military into Iraq for an unjustified war that killed approximately 1 million Iraqis and over 4000 US soldiers. Part of the supposed justification for this war was the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. After 9/11 Bush used the word Crusade to talk about the response to 9/11, thus, he was claiming that what was to come, Afghanistan and Iraq, would be done in the name of God. If God exists, I don’t think he/she appreciated that.
Getting back to Katrina, Bush, McCain, and the GOP subjected FEMA, the agency that is supposed to respond to national disasters, to massive budget cuts. Prior to Katrina, Bush, McCain and the rest of the GOP refused to fund efforts to improve the levy system that protected the city of New Orleans against flooding. If God exists, I don’t think God appreciates the Republican approach of giving massive tax giveaways to the rich while ignoring the plight of the poor and defunding systems that keep us healthy and safe.
This year, many evangelicals are re-evaluating whether the GOP and its candidates really behave as the people and party of God. From a New Testament perspective, reconciling GOP elected officials and their actions with the Christian descriptions of a good person in the beatitudes is difficult. In particular, the beatitudes say “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” and “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” How much mercy was shown the people of New Orleans before and after Katrina? How much mercy was shown the women and children of Iraq when over half a million women and children were killed during the Iraq war? Speaking of ‘war’ if the beatitudes say, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” what does that say about those who engage in an unnecessary war? The beatitudes also contain a number of curses in the form of “Woe to ….” One of them is "Woe to you rich, for you have your consolation”. This is an interesting curse for the party that favors tax giveaways to the rich and ignores the poor.
Whether you are a believer or nor, Hurricane Gustav is a poignant reminder of Katrina and how Republican policies failed to protect and then failed to rebuild the city of New Orleans. It also is a reminder of what John McCain and Bush were doing the day Katrina hit New Orleans. As you see in the picture on this page on the Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/24/mccain-and-katrina-ravage_n_98470.html , on August 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, McCain and Bush were laughing, eating cake, and celebrating McCain’s 69th birthday in Glendale Arizona. Marie Antoinette would be proud.