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(Bad) acts of God

Glenn Beck[For the Record, added at 1:15 p.m.: The original post had a photo of Bill O’Reilly, who would be mortified to be confused with Glenn Beck. We replaced that photo with one of Beck himself.]

[For the Record, added at 6:45 p.m.: A previous version of this post asked: "What is it about religious conservatives and natural disasters?" 9/11 was not a natural disaster, but just a disaster.]

What is it about religious conservatives and disasters? Who can forget the post-9/11 comments by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell? (Falwell: "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.' " Robertson: "Well, I totally concur.")

Now Glenn Beck is suggesting, even as he denies suggesting it, that God was taking out his frustrations with the human race through the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. "I'm not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes," he said. "I'm not not saying that either."

He added that whatever name you use for God, "there's a message being sent. And that is, 'Hey, you know that stuff we're doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.'"

The idea of God smiting his (and other) people is not new, of course, but even religious people acknowledge that it's a relic of a less sophisticated theology. Unless you're a celebrity Christian conservative.


The right to be vile

--Michael McGough

Photo: Glenn Beck. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (21)

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Mike Melendez

Irrespective of what you think of the named commentators, since when was 9/11 an "Act of God"? Is there a quote from Falwell or Robertson that shows those two though 9/11 was an "Act of God"?

Thomas Smith

Here you go:

During a discussion about whether this crisis might bring revival to America, Jerry Falwell said God may have allowed what the nation deserved because of moral decay and said Americans should have an attitude of repentance before God and asking for God's protection. He specifically listed the ACLU, abortionists, feminists, gays, and the People For the American way as sharing in the blame. Pat Robertson responded with agreement.



I could have sworn earthquakes kill religious conservative people, too, and that tsunami's washed away non-secular households. Thank goodness Glen Beck and his associates at Fox News are around to straighten my little red wagon. Their direct line to their imaginary friend in the sky is a boon for the rest of the population who wonder why natural disasters happen, SEEMINGLY at random.

I can only assume that every day a disaster like this DOESN'T happen, this means that some almighty creator is thoroughly pleased with everything. There have been 111 homicides in Los Angeles this year to date. Where's our earthquake, Glen? Or is your floating judge in the clouds approve of all that killing?


When did Glenn Beck become synonymous with Bill O'Reilly? (Of course, I am referring to the photo above of Bill O'Reilly labeled as Glenn Beck.)


@ guster

They're both crazy, conservative white guys on Fox. The only way I can tell them apart is when Glen cries while talking about patriotism. Yikes.


This terrible tragedy should help people become a little less religious and a little more scientific.

God is a crutch for the feeble who can't explain physics of nature. There is no God and the sooner people stop praying and actually doing something for the stricken people the sooner the Japanese will be able to get back to normal.

The Internet

Well, if these idiots are right and this is an act of god, flying spaghetti monster, allah or wtv else, i would hate to see what the Gods have for us in the united states.


Excuse me, but even a top leader stated this is punishment for the greed of the Japanese people.
I think catastrophic events always make people wonder about The Gods.
And science does not fill all the voids.
Science does not comfort a parent, a child, a cousin....who has lost a loved one.

CommonSense Ben


Actually those "religious" types and religious organizations give and raise THE MOST money when these natural disasters occur to aid people in need. THATS what religion is all about, to love, to give and to help others in times of need.

It seems like all who hate "God" are people who don't take the time to explore for themselves what religion is all about. They take the "popular" opinion to feel excepted by "the world". I really don't care if you or anybody else believe in God or not, if finding religion helped a person kick a debilitating habit like drug abuse or alcoholism, makes them turn there lives around from going down an destructive path, or just want to live a better life, then who is anyone to judge them for that??

What I've learned is that a lot of you "atheists" don't have anymore better answers than the ones found in the bible. God himself says "not all those who profess my name is from my cloth". Man is responsible for many wonderful things but whether you like it or not, Man is also responsible for a lot of the worlds destruction.. God didn't create guns and bombs, Man did....

The TEN commandments cannot have been written by Man because it is too condemning to the free spirit in which the Man loves to live by...
Its funny how most people have the principles of the Ten commandments as their way of living life but hate where these principals ORIGINALLY CAME FROM!!!

I'm done so most of you guys could go back to finding out what Charlie Sheen is doing today...


OK, so if we are nice to each other, the Earth suddenly stops being sheets of crust on a molten interior, and becomes all solid like a potato (no more earthquakes)?


Would that be the Buddist or Shinto god that is punishing the Japanese, or the Christian god trying to stake out some new territory? And why , because the Japanese are selling us so many Toyota and Honda cars?

I think Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin both have the answers and they are just holding out on us right now. Before the weekend is out, I'm sure they will both weigh in and give us all the real reasons for this tragedy......


Pathetic op-ed: poorly written, little information, errant picture, smackdown without substantive support.

I recall when I used to read the Times for journalistic integrity. Now I jsut get their take on the NCAA men's tourney. Oh how the once mighty have fallen.

Mr. Ben

Actually, Glenn Beck is right. God is almighty, all knowing, omnipresent and always was and always will be. As such, time and space mean nothing to him. This earthquake is punishment for what the Japanese did in World War II. Hurricane Katrina is punishment for something Americans will do in the 22nd century. And the Krakatoa disaster is payback for that time the Inuits attacked the Eskimo village. God does that type of stuff all the time, then leaves it to people like Glenn Beck to figure it out and explain it to us.


@ Mr. Ben
Well played, sir :)

@ CommonSense Ben
Putting atheists in quotes is grammatically incorrect. I know you don't like us, but attacking us with bad grammar won't work. Give it a rest.

You mentioned that atheists don't have better answers than the bible. The answers you're talking about are, for an atheist, based in facts proven by the scientific method, which everyone is happy to use for things like gravity and polio vaccines, but the religious enthusiastically ignore when it comes to things like, oh, the universe.

Second, atheists are, by and large, content not knowing the answers to every question about our existence. Get it? The mystery is what makes life amazing! There's really no way to know for sure what the world (and the universe) is all about without more evidence, which we don't have the technology to gather. As to our purpose here, that's for each person to decide, not some old book written thousands of years ago by a bunch of weirdos about their imaginary friend.

Third, you don't have to be religious to know that you shouldn't murder people, steal, cheat on your partner, lie, and that being jealous is petty and stupid. That all pretty much goes without saying, right? Those laws were around before the ten commandments. The Egyptians had laws like that for thousands of years, and THEN (according to legend) the Jews were freed, wandered around for a while, and THEN (according to legend) got the commandments. There's a burning bush in there somewhere too. Point is, the Egyptians win.

Fourth, there's really no telling how much money atheists give, because we don't have one spiritual governing body through whom we can all donate when others are in need. I gave through the Red Cross and Groupon.

Maybe religious people do give the most, and that would be great. But it's a moot point because the issue here is not whether religious people are generous, but whether Glen Beck is sane.

I think we all know to answer in the negative on that one.


When I was a kid I lived in Utah, and the Boy Scouts was taken over by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church). This, so called religion, practices underage polygamy, they send the boy s off on missions to divide the underage sisters umong the dirty old men of the clan. Now when these underage girls get pregnant, these same dirty old men, send them to the state to get their welfare checks . You should see some of the palace homes that are paid with welfare checks. By the way this is the newest religion that was created right here in United States of America, I guess their also in AZ, NM, TX, NV, CO, OK. Someone should ask Glenn Beck about it, he seems to have all the answers.


 Thomas Chi

First, Roger Ailes of Fox News lost control of Sarah Palin with her comments on the shooting in Arizona. Now Roger Ailes has really lost control of Glenn Beck. Plus Beck will get worst as he approaches the end of his contract with Fox New Corp. Actually, when you think about the issues with Beck and Palin, is it really news? What kind of journalism is Fox News, Mr. Ailes? You represented the best, Presidents, Congressmen, you have gotten people elected to office, why are you playing Mickey Mouse games with cartoon characters? You remind me of Barbara Walters. Barbara Walters represented the United States of America by interviewing the Mao, the Chairman of China, Kings, Prime Ministers, Queens, now she will be remembered for fighting with entertainers on the View - Mr. Roger Ailes, is that what you want for your LEGACY? Glenn Beck? Sarah Palin? Clowns that only care about attention, but NEVER the News? Thomas Chi Publisher PresidentSarah.Net

Beck/Palin 2012

Let's give this country the leadership it truly deserves. ;)


It's not like that conservative are the only ones who are making offensive comments about Japan. Gilbert Gottfried was fired from his Aflac gig because of some tasteless twitter jokes he made about Japan. I predict that the "Family Guy" producer who made the comparison between the earthquake and Pearl Harbor on his twitter feed will also be sacked as well. The eco-terrorist Paul Watson wrote a poem about divine retribution against Japan because he's an anti-whaling nut job, and 50 Cent just made an insensitive comment about Japan. Face it. Everybody has made offensive remarks about Japan, even the governor of Tokyo made the statement that the earthquake was divine retribution for the Japanese people's "greedy ways."

Peter Couch

I check http://grouponbot.com more often then I check groupon now.


Ah no, it had to do with the natural movements of tectonic plates and not so much with god, mr Beck. Please stop exploiting events like this for weird religious agendas. thank you.


i actually watched beck's program that night because, let's be honest, the guy is incredibly entertaining in his crazy self-righteousness.

He mentions the 4,000 casualties reported from Chernobyl without mentioning that this number is highly criticized for being far too low and probably influenced by the IAEA's pro-nuclear agenda. Another study by the New York Academy of Sciences that recently came out put the number of deaths closer to a million. Even if the number is somewhere halfway between you come out with a half million deaths.

all i'm saying is that when glenn beck starts throwing up facts and figures, you should probably take a second look at them. there's a lot of statistics floating around the internet. he just picks the ones that go well with his agenda, regardless of whether they're true. there's a big difference between 4,000 and a million, and to not even bother mentioning that he's using a highly disputed number is extremely unethical.



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