(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.
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