State Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, wrote in a weekly column for news outlets: "New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness. It is the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God."
Erwin, a former conservative talk-radio host and now a media consultant, wrote the column after a tour of hurricane-wrecked Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., and Bayou La Batre on the Alabama coast.
"Warnings year after year by godly evangelists and preachers went unheeded. So why were we surprised when finally the hand of judgment fell?" Erwin wrote. "Sadly, innocents suffered along with the guilty. Sin always brings suffering to good people as well as the bad."
The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was flooded by Katrina. Erwin said the Baptists knew they had put themselves on the front lines ministering in a sinful place that could be targeted.
That's right: The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary got flooded, but that was, uh, just more evidence of their bravery that they'd put themselves on the front line like that! They knew God might smite N.O. with a hurricane, but they stayed anyway to try and convert the dirty heathen hurricane-inciters!
He said he didn't think the hard-hit residents of the low-income lower 9th Ward in New Orleans were singled out for especially harsh punishment but were merely in the way, as were the shrimpers in Bayou La Batre.
Erwin's pals in Bayou La Batre and the Ninth Ward must love him now, knowing that he believes in a God to whom they're basically collateral damage in His quest to mete out corporal punishment to the Gulf Coast's blackjack players and slot addicts.
See, this is one of the things that always cracks me up about the loony Christian right. Remember how, as a kid, you'd play rock-paper-scissors with your friends, and there was always at least one smartass who'd break the rules by laying down "nuclear weapon!" that nobody could beat? And when you told him he couldn't do that, on the next go-round he'd put down rock and you'd put down paper, and he'd be all, "Ah, but this is a special burning rock that burns up your paper, so I win"? Guys like Erwin are like that. They always have some convenient explanation for how X is an example of God's wrath toward groups Y and Z, and if it harmed groups A and B in the process, well, that was just because He likes groups A and B and wanted to give them the chance to rise above the carnage and misery to become true Godly heroes. Remember when Hurricane Rita skipped across the Florida Keys, and some right-wing nuts proposed that this was God's punishment for Key West being a place where gay people like to party? It didn't hurt the Keys all that bad, but then it picked up steam as it made its way into the Gulf, and that meant it was headed back to punish New Orleans again and "finish what Katrina started." But then it punched supposedly God-fearin' Texas right in the mouth, and that meant . . . well, that God actually loves east Texas very much, because He allowed most of them to get out before the hurricane hit, or something. (I don't know how that busload of dead senior citizens fits into all this, but ask Sen. Erwin, I'm sure he has an explanation.)
I just think it's really interesting that the nuts on the far right are going the God's-wrath route at all, because look at what's happened: Two really awful hurricanes (plus one semi-awful one if you count Dennis earlier this year) whose most severe damage has been confined almost exclusively to Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama ? the reddest of red states, states with more Christian evangelicals than just about any other in the country. Meanwhile, Disneyworld? The place Pat Robertson said was a sitting duck for hurricanes (and all sorts of other natural disasters) because they dared to let gay folks in? Barely a scratch.
I'm just a mere mortal, no better or more moral than anyone else, so I'm not gonna try and get into a real deep interpretation of God's motives here. All I'm saying is that if He really is using hurricanes as his weapon of choice for smiting the wicked, He needs to work on His aim.