Katrina = God's Wrath

As a disclaimer, I’m not stating any definitive personal beliefs, just looking for opinions.

A few prominent people have stated that Katrina is a result of God’s vengence on a sinful people (observable in this thread ). Dopers’ (including myself) immediate, intuitive reaction seems to be something along the lines of, “these people are out of their gourds. They are hateful, and doing a disservice to the Christian religion.”

However, if you are a Christian who believes both the old and new testament to be the inspired word of God, could not the idea of Katrina being God’s wrath on sinful people be perfectly justified? The Bible has many examples of God destroying a people who turned their back on Him, including the famous Sodom and Gomorroah, as well as God punishing the Isrealites whenever they were disobedient. New Orleans was an icon for lots of behavior that is condemned in the Bible. So why are fundamentalist Christians not justified in believing this is an act of God’s wrath?

The best counter examples I can think of are that 1) many God-fearing Christians were also hurt in the attacks (I’m not sure of the Biblical precedents for God destroying the righteous along with the evil in one fell swoop) and 2) the anger towards the fundamentalists stemming from the fact that they are criticizing and condemning, instead of praying and trying to help. Christians aren’t called to judge, but rather to try to bring people to God. (However, this argument can be countered by the argument that the fundamentalists are warning others, to prevent them from performing the same behaviors and being destroyed in the same way).

I really am not trying to flame and I’m really sorry if I offended anyone. I just want a discussion on the scriptural/logial basis for such a belief system. Thanks!

Their interpretations of the Bible are not always accurate, but the real point is that they are blaming the victims for this tragedy. There are shades of bigotry in it, but for most people, I think it’s simply common sense that there’s no way 10,000 people could have deserved this.

It leaves us with the problem of sorting out which disasters are punishment and which are just, you know, natural. Unless one believes that *all * natural disasters are punishment. In which case, as Marley23 points out, we are left wondering why God’s aim is so bad.

Well, considering what happened to Trent Lott’s house, I can almost see the case for this. :wink:

Seriously though, these are the sort of people who give religion a bad name … As if it didn’t already have plenty of help from lots of others!

It makes people mad because mass destruction isn’t very nice. Wishing it on people is disgusting; and if you believe in God ( I don’t ) claiming he does this sort of thing is an insult to him. After all, you’re not saying “God punished the wicked”, you’re saying “God wrecked an entire region, and got a few sinners in the process”.

Let’s use a more real-world example. Suppose Bush went on national TV and announced he really invaded Iraq and killed all those people in order to punish them for violating God’s will ? How do you think people would react ? I’m sure a small bunch of extremists would cheer him ( probably the same who cheer Katrina ); far more people would be offended and look at Bush as a psychopath.

So basically, If you say God punished NO with a hurricane, you’re claiming God is a psychopath. Most believers will take offense at that; most non-believers will take offense that you follow such a brutal philosophy.

Can’t believe any kind of competent deity would be so indiscriminate in the application of wrath; I mean, why not just make the sinners all turn into little heaps of purple powder, leaving the righteous and/or innocent standing and unharmed (there’s must have been some, mustn’t there?)

And another thought. If Katrina was a punishment for sinners, why were so many pillagers, rapists, and murderers spared?

So it seems that everyone’s opinion is that this couldn’t be the wrath of God, because so many innocent were punished, and so many guilty spared. I guess I have two questions in response to that.

  1. If the hurricane managed to spot-hit a brothel, and leave everything else untouched, could that justifiably be considered a wrath of God act?

  2. Is there Biblical support for God punishing the good along with the bad?

No, not without a small still voice from nowhere claiming responsability.

Possibly, but some kind of prophetic warning is sort of traditional.

Yes and no; there’s the whole Sodom and Gomorrah thing, where Abram negotiates with God, who rather sullenly concedes not to destroy the cities if there are any righteous people there. But then there’s a lot of other God-sanctioned destruction (carried out by humans though) in the OT that includes the slaughter of newborns, who most reasonable people would consider to be undeserving of such a fate.

Let us not forget–mere hours before its landfall, Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane with 28-foot swells, on course to pretty much head straight up Bourbon Street (maybe stopping by the Port of Call on the way for a burger).

However, at the last minute, it weakened and turned to the east. Had the canal wall not failed, New Orleans would have been almost unscathed. So God was trying to save New Orleans. The fundie stronghold of Mississippi, on the other hand, got its godly ass handed to it.

Conclusion: God likes booze and titties, and hates Trent Lott.

Now isn’t that the sort of God we can all get behind! :smiley:

Well, no. I think it couldn’t be the wrath of god because I don’t think god exists. I just partially answered the question “why are fundamentalist Christians not justified in believing this is an act of God’s wrath?” Others have also provided answers that explain why this interpretation doesn’t make sense.

The fact is, when you answer any question about god, you have to make some assumptions. That goes for the fundamentalists and for people here. Most of the answers here assume that god is rational and cares about human life, for example. If you believed that god exists but is an irrational monster, you’d have no problem believing it’s god’s wrath. Or if you think, as some fundamentalists apparently do, that god is willing to kill innocent people (or perhaps that nobody who died last week was innocent), then you have no logical problem. Although, as I mentioned, those views of god are not necessarily supported by scripture.

Pillars of salt.

I’ve never been able to believe that; shit happens to good and bad people randomly. I have a question, though: In the old testament, God destroys (so it is written) whole cities and races. Were they ALL bad?

If it’s God’s vengance, it’s not on New Orleans as the damage is much more widespread. It’s clearly an attack on the red states for using God’s name to justify so many ungodly acts. Notice that the hurricaine did not reach California, Oregon, or Massachusetts.

It makes no more sense than Jerry Falwell saying 9/11 was God’s judgment. After all, there was a time in the U.S. – pretty much our entire history up to the 1950s – when we had a clear “Christian consensus.” Almost everybody honored the traditional religious and moral values, even if honoring them in the breach. But that didn’t protect us from Pearl Harbor, the Great Depression, the 1918 flu epidemic, etc., etc. Not to mention hurricanes, lots of hurricanes.

Exactly. I think the “God is punishing the sybarites” stuff is a case of ignoring evidence that doesn’t jibe with your hypothesis. If you are willing to ignore evidence you don’t like, you can prove anything you want. Case in point: I remember reading several years ago a study that someone did (probably published in the Annals of Improbable Research) examining the correlations between tornadoes, churches, and an active gay community. (I’d give a cite, but I’m sure I couldn’t find it again if my life depended on it). A high church density was positively correlated with tornado activity, whereas an active gay community (measured by the existence of gay pride parades, gay escort services, etc.) correlated with a low incidence of tornado activity. Does it show that God loves gays and hates Baptists? It really just shows that if you are allowed to cherry-pick your evidence, you can prove anything.

That’s what Jesus taught - “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45, with that last phrase being particularly appropriate just at the moment…

The story of Noah (Genesis 6) seems to imply that he was the only person on earth at the time who “found favour” in God’s eyes, which is why he was given the Ark blueprints.


Apparently I underestimated my Google-fu (or the ease of finding the study in question). It is actually a widely-reprinted piece originally written by Janis Walworth.

Do Unnatural Acts Cause Natural Disasters?