Here's a story that proves that religion is sometimes stranger than fiction. My friend Crhymethinc has a rather dark sense of humor. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, he suggested to me that it would be amusing to post comments on news sites suggesting that the disaster was God's wrath on the island for its pagan practice of voodoo. The amusing part, he emphasized, would be in seeing whether other people responded with apoplectic outrage or righteous agreement. But my friend's parodic instinct is no match for the self-parodic tendency of the American Religious Right. It was only a matter of time, after all, before Pat Robertson opined on the subject. And once he had spoken, it was a shorter matter of time before his organization went into spin mode. I really like the nice distinctions drawn by the Robertson camp. It seemed fair to them for Robertson to blame the earthquake on a curse dating back to an alleged revolutionary pact with Satan, but it is unfair for others to summarize his analysis as an attribution of the quake to God. But I suppose, based on Robertson's reasoning following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, that he could believe that God allowed the disaster to occur but did not initiate it. But of course, still following the 2001 model, if God withdrew his protection from Haiti then the Haitians, like the sinful Americans of nine years ago, had only themselves to blame for the earthquake.
As a rule, I believe in voodoo no more than I believe in the Christian mythology, but if it inspires some indignant Haitian to stick pins in a Pat Robertson doll, I'd almost be willing to pray for the pricks to have a practical effect