(TMU) — Since the coronavirus pandemic began ripping through the United States, causing major human suffering and contributing to spiraling economic distress, certain extremist members of the Christian right have sought to blame the LGBTQ community for the COVID-19.
And sure enough, when gay people are being scapegoated by the evangelical religious right, Christian media mogul Pat Robertson will be there hoping to lead the pack in blaming LGBTQ folks for COVID-19.
In an episode this week of his long-running series, “The 700 Club,” Robertson suggested that God won’t put a stop to the pandemic until people “turn from their wicked ways,” a reference to the alleged sins of homosexuality and other supposedly “terrible things.”
In a clip captured by watchdog group Media Matters for America, the 90-year-old televangelist is asked by a caller:
“How can God heal our land and forgive the sins when abortion and same-sex marriage are laws and many people are anti-Israel. Doesn’t this prevent his healing and forgiveness?”
Unsurprisingly, Robertson agreed with the caller’s recitation of Christian right talking points. He responded:
“You know, I think you put your finger on something very important.
“We are not turning when we have done terrible things. We have broken the covenant that God made with mankind. We have violated his covenant.
“We have taken the life of the innocent, slaughtered them by the tens of millions. Children made in the image of God … I mean, we’ve allowed this terrible plague to spread throughout our society.”
Concluding, he said:
“And it’s a small wonder God would hold us guilty. But the answer is, you know, you confess your sins and forsake them. Then he heals the land. It’s not before. You are right.”
Robertson’s “700 Club” has been airing since 1966, and has long been an outlet where hardcore Christian evangelicals can propagate far-right perspectives on social issues ranging from same-sex marriage to foreign policy, immigration enforcement, reproductive rights, Islam, and feminism.
On Thursday, the flagship program of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) featured the controversial Ret. Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin speaking about society’s alleged “war against men.”
An estimated 650,000 U.S. households tune into “The 700 Club” every day, according to CBN, while the network itself has close ties to the Trump administration and frequently features White House officials as guests.
Rights advocates and LGBTQ activists quickly denounced Robertson’s statements as a homophobic distortion of the Christian gospel.
In a statement, Michael Vazquez, director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s religion and faith program, said:
“Pat Robertson is once again using tragedy to advance anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that will continue to isolate and harm the LGBTQ community.”
“Jesus never said that being LGBTQ is a sin, and in no way does the Bible correlate the LGBTQ community to natural disasters or other global events and pandemics, including COVID-19. The Bible does, however, give clear instruction to those who adhere to it to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.’
“At the core of the Christian faith is an ethic of love and justice, and what Robertson is advocating for is an ethic of hate and violence. Christians who continue to use the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized populations, as scapegoats for tragedy betray their God-given duty to be people of love and inclusion, and doers of mercy and justice.”
Robertson isn’t the first evangelical Christian in the U.S. to blame the so-called “sins” of the American people for the massive health crisis that first erupted in Hubei Province, China, before sweeping across the globe.
Last month, Ralph Drollinger—the minister who leads the weekly Bible study group for President Donald Trump’s cabinet—suggested that China, LGBTQ people, environmentalists, and people with “depraved minds” were responsible for God’s judgment being visited upon us in the form of the novel coronavirus.
Prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland, who heads the Kenneth Copeland Ministries megachurch, has also described the coronavirus as a “very weak strain of flu” while, nevertheless, claiming that detractors of President Trump have “opened the door” for the virus through their alleged “displays of hate” against him.
Meanwhile, Christian church leaders such as Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Lousiana and Tampa, Florida-based pastor Rodney Howard-Browne have continued holding services in spite of warnings from authorities and health officials that defying physical distancing guidelines could lead to the exponential spread of the deadly disease.
FBI Seizes Capitol Building LEGO Set From Alleged Rioter’s House
Many of us know, either from our childhood or even our adulthood, that building and collecting LEGO can be a fun hobby that allows us to tap into our creativity in a relaxing, stress-free way.
But what if someone’s LEGO hobby is something much more nefarious – or even seditious in the eyes of the government?
Such may have been the case when special agents with the FBI confiscated a fully completed LEGO set of the U.S. Capitol Building from the home of Robert Morss, 27, whom they allege participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, according to court documents published by The Smoking Gun.
The large LEGO set is comprised of 1,032 pieces and was released in 2016 and is no longer available for retail. The agents seized the finished set along with other items matching those they believe Morss had in his possession when he allegedly stormed the building – including a neck gaiter, a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, a military-style satchel, a black tourniquet, and military battle dress uniforms.
The documents also note that he “had three different firearms including a handgun, a shotgun and a rifle” in his possession.
According to LEGO, the United States Capitol Building set “focuses on the structure’s neoclassical style facade, steps and lawns” and is “finished with a decorative ‘US Capitol’ nameplate.” In 2019, the product was “retired” – which has less to do with politics and more to do with the limited availability of the company’s unique product lines.
Morss, who is from Pennsylvania, was arrested last month on a range of federal charges. According to the Department of Justice, his alleged crimes “include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; and robbery of personal property of the United States.”
An FBI investigator’s affidavit notes that Morss joined rioters in direct confrontations with officers guarding the Lower West Terrace doors of the Capital in “an intense and prolonged clash between rioters and law enforcement.”
Law enforcement officers claim that they also found a notebook in Morss car that had instructions on a “Step by Step to Create Hometown Militia” that included a list of names, equipment, and sections on “ambush,” “battle drills,” and “formations.” The notebook also contained notes that said “bring assault rifle,” “4 magazines,” and “bring kit/body armor.”
However, the court documents do not indicate whether the LEGO set was deployed in tactical drills prior to the botched uprising.
The DOJ says that roughly 465 individuals have been arrested on charges related the events of Jan. 6.
Neptune, the Roman God of Water, ‘Emerges’ From Waves in Photo During UK Storm
If we were to believe our eyes, it would seem that the ancient Roman god of water himself made an appearance on the shores of New Haven, England, on a day of especially rough surf.
What appears to be the “face” of Neptune was captured on Tuesday when photographer Jeff Overs of the BBC was taking photos of waves crashing over the harbor wall in the port city.
Of course, one is free to believe that the ferocious deity emanated from the depths of the sea to remind us puny humans of his wrath.
But alas, it was likely a simple example of pareidolia – the phenomenon of seeing faces and figures in otherwise random or ambiguous everyday objects.
The photographer snapped the shot amid high tide and winds exceeding 50 miles per hour (80km/h), namely because of the violent nature of the shore.
“It’s become a popular location for photographers because the sea ‘boils’ in high wind against the sea wall,” Overs explained.
“The waves splash into the high wind and when blown back occasionally make patterns that look like ghoulish faces.”
Overs added that one of the small foreground waves even resembles a hand – albeit a pareidolic one.
“It’s a straight shot and I haven’t manipulated the image at all,” he added.
Lunar New Deal: GOP Lawmaker Suggests Altering Moon & Earth’s Orbit to Stop Climate Change
Texas Republican Congressman Louise Gohmert raised the eyebrows of his Congressional colleagues on Tuesday after seemingly suggesting that climate change could be combatted by changing the orbit of the moon, or even altering “Earth’s orbit around the sun.”
Gohmert, who has been decried as the “dumbest member of Congress” for his past absurdly anti-scientific comments regarding the ongoing pandemic and a number of other issues, has been a vocal opponent of progressive legislators’ attempts to put a “Green New Deal” on the government’s agenda.
However, his apparent suggestion of a “Lunar New Deal” to mitigate global warming could take the cake as his most hare-brained idea yet.
The comments came during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on four pending bills while questioning Jennifer Eberlien of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, reports NBC.
“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the B.L.M. [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” the Texas congressman began.
“I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun,” he continued.
“We know there’s been significant solar flare activity,” Gohmert said. “And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or B.L.M. can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?”
“Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate,” the lawmaker added.
Responding, Eberlein said with a smile: “I would have to follow up with on you on that one, Mr. Gohmert.”
“If you figure out there’s a way in the forest service you could make that change, I’d like to know,” Gohmert responded, without any trace of irony.
Longtime critics of the conservative legislator were besides themselves with bewilderment and mockery over the out-of-this-world suggestion.
On the opposite side of the aisle California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu suggested that perhaps Marvel Comics superheroine Captain Marvel was up to the task.
“She can alter planetary orbits with her superpowers. I’m going to work on a bipartisan resolution asking for her help,” Lieu wrote on Twitter.
According to NASA, the Earth’s climate has changed throughout history for various reasons, including small variations in the planet’s orbit.
However, the agency’s website notes that this doesn’t discount the fact that anthropogenic or human-caused activities are the culprit of the current warming.
“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia,” the site says.