Pat Robertson’s recent remarks (see video) on the Haiti earthquake have raised eyebrows and extreme reactions from many fronts, from the religious to the atheists.
Chicago Breaking News reports a Reverend Al Sharpton criticizing Robertson’s comments while calling for relief efforts for Haiti:
Sharpton, at Christ Universal Temple in the South Side on Sunday, said the statements were “repulsive” and “un-Christian.”
But Sharpton had no calls for apologies.
“I wouldn’t call on Pat Robertson to do anything. I think that the best way to deal with a glass that appears muddy is to put a clean glass next to it,” he said. “I hope the clean glass of those fair and humane-thinking religious leaders can be compared” to them.
Meanwhile on the Washington Post controversial atheist and author Richard Dawkins blasted not Robertson but religious sentiments such as those of Sharpton’s, arguing against the “hypocrisy” of Christians:
You nice, middle-of-the-road theologians and clergymen, be-frocked and bleating in your pulpits, you disclaim Pat Robertson’s suggestion that the Haitians are paying for a pact with the devil. But you worship a god-man who – as you tell your congregations even if you don’t believe it yourself – ‘cast out devils’. You even believe (or you don’t disabuse your flock when they believe) that Jesus cured a madman by causing the ‘devils’ in him to fly into a herd of pigs and stampede them over a cliff. Charming story, well calculated to uplift and inspire the Sunday School and the Infant Bible Class. Pat Robertson may spout evil nonsense, but he is a mere amateur at that game. Just read your own Bible. Pat Robertson is true to it. But you?
I find the extreme exchanges triggered by Robertson interesting not because of the clash of religious and non-religious sentiments (although that is also incidentally fun to read and watch). However what intrigues me is that the polarization of opinion is not between pro- and anti-Robertson, but on whether Robertson should qualify as representative of religious or non-religious sentiments.
Simply put: both the Christians and atheists seem to agree that Robertson was being an ass–but are divided on whether he (being an ass) represents Christians.
The “no true scotsman” fallacy comes to mind. Funny thing is, if Dawkins and Sharpton are to be our benchmarks, both sides of the Robertson issue are guilty of it, which is ironic.