I'VE NEVER much cared for Pat Robertson, or any of the other big-toothed televangelists who raise a hand in godly praise while counting change with the other.
Except for Billy Graham, they all had too much of the Elmer Gantry about them and too little of the lord. Still, I understand there's a market for their brand of religion, and I'd rather have them cavorting on cable than some of reality TV's over-sexed and underfed Barbies.
But Robertson, who's strained the limits of civil discourse by seeking the assassination of dictators (like Hugo Chavez), has put foot-in-mouth yet again by blaming the Haitian earthquake on Satan.
According to Praise the Lord Pat, Haiti has been "cursed" because of its "pact with the devil" throughout history. Well, at least he isn't blaming climate change.
You have to laugh. Robertson has the amazing ability to distill every human tragedy into a sermon on evil, even when it's the innocent who are victimized. I'd love to know how the victims of the quake, including Haiti's dead Roman Catholic archbishop, parlayed any pact with the devil into such allegedly divinely deserved retribution.
I just spoke to a client whose uncle was trapped under three tons of rubble. The odds that any Haitians committed a sin so heinous that they deserved to live in the crumbling and ravaged remains of their third-world homes are zero.
The real reason that Haiti is in the eye of yet another storm is because of its geography, numbing poverty and generations of corruption and misgovernment.
But what really frosts me are all those folks out there who are trying to equate the words of this false prophet with the religion that I profess - and treasure.
Like the critic at Salon who writes: "Pat Robertson's language is the reductio ad absurdum of the Christian right."
Really? I'm Christian and conservative, but I don't recall hiring him as my press agent.
Just as all pro-lifers were unjustly portrayed as accessories in the assassination of George Tiller, whose murderer Scott Roeder is currently on trial in Kansas, Robertson is being portrayed as some kind of poster boy for the faithful.
And while I'm sure he's done some good in his lifetime, and even though I know he's sending millions of dollars in medicine and relief workers to Haiti, he's hardly the face of modern Christianity.
Anyone who pays attention to politics and religion in 2010 knows that, but there's still this tendency to ridicule Christians by exaggerating the most over-the-top examples. Oddly, when it comes radicals from other religions, we're warned not to demonize a whole religion.
Take the fellow who tried to blow up the Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas. It took a while before the administration's national security apparatus would refer to him as a terrorist, and even then they were loath to call him an "Islamic terrorist."
And then there's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whose appropriate description is now "criminal defendant in a civilian court of law," not "9/11 Jihadist-in-Chief."
Why in these cases - if Robertson's excesses are cause to condemn a whole swath of Christianity - are we so afraid to connect these wild-eyed radicals with the religion they profess, and instead call them exceptions to the rule?
I COULD ACTUALLY accept this hesitation if Muslims came out in droves to publicly criticize, without equivocation, the monstrous acts of their brothers in faith, or if we were willing to recognize that Roeder and Robertson are exceptions as well.
And yes, this is about Christianity.
In an earlier column I wrote about how atheists and secularists have a tendency to ridicule all believers, but the truth is that the main target of derision is those who believe in Jesus, not Mohammed.
You see this in the gay-marriage debate, where supporters of same-sex unions have targeted Christians, and especially Catholics, as the face of bigotry.
Yes, bigots can be Christian. As can Jews, Muslims, Hindus - and atheists and secular humanists. No belief system has the exclusive rights to human failings.
But just as I'm willing to say that Pat Robertson is an embarrassment to my team, I wish we'd stop elevating his every stupid sound bite into scripture.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer. Listen to her Thursdays on WPHT/1210 AM, 10 p.m. to midnight.