Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A "Man of God" Preaching Hate and Division in New Orleans

Nightline also featured J. Nelson Brown, the pastor of the Greater Saint Mary Missionary Baptist Church. Unlike Michael Brown, Reverend Brown took immediate concrete steps to help those stranded by the hurricane — his church provided cold water, hot meals, and ice to the people left in a poor, predominantly African American neighborhood of New Orleans, beginning the day after the hurricane hit.

The reporter, Jake Tapper, said, "It is worth noting that Brown believes God sent Katrina to the Delta."

There are some people that are saying, Why Katrina came to New Orleans. The wickedness of New Orleans. Just last week, Labor Day weekend, the "decadence fest" [Pridefest, the annual Lesbian/Gay Pride celebration] would have been held in New Orleans. But when God say, Enough, you've gone far enough, you've overstepped your bounds, then God steps in. — the so-called "Reverend" J. Nelson Brown of New Orleans
Back in the studio, Terry Moran, filling in for Ted Koppel in the anchor chair, closes off the segment saying, "one man of God, making a difference."

Just for starters, it is deeply offensive for a "man of God" to preach that God has sent Hurricane Katrina down to kill hundreds (possibly thousands) of people as punishment for the sin of allowing homosexuals to march in the streets. It is no less offensive than if the KKK were to declare that Katrina was God's punishment for mixed-race marriages. Nightline should be ashamed for failing to call out the bigotry more sharply: "it is worth noting" is hardly the condemnation such a statement demands.

There's another issue involved, though: the simple fact is that "Reverend" Brown apparently doesn't know how to read a calendar, because Pridefest took place in New Orleans almost three months ago, the third weekend in June, although "Southern Decadence" had been scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Or did someone forget to tell God that the organizing committee changed the date this year? "Oops, sorry folks, I meant to smite thee a while back, but I was taking a nap."

[Mea culpa indeed. "Pridefest" (the gay pride parade) took place this year in New Orleans in mid-June. However, "Southern Decadence," a much more sexually oriented gay event, was scheduled for Wednesday, August 31 through Monday, September 5, corresponding quite closely to the time that Hurricane Corinna, um, I mean, Katrina struck the Big Easy and breached the levees. I maintain, all the same, that my analogy to the KKK holds, as most definitely does the paragraph below. As for accountability, I was wrong in "correcting" the chronology, and doubly wrong to claim it as a news "scoop," and I admit it freely.]

Make no mistake: I applaud J. Nelson Brown's efforts to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, and give blessed ice to the overheated, most especially because the government (state and local, as well as federal) has been AWOL in providing relief, particularly in the Algiers neighborhood. However, I call upon all good Americans and all good Christians to condemn his attribution of this disaster to God's wrath upon homosexuals, just as we must all condemn Pat Robertson's call to assassinate the President of Venezuela, and just as all good Muslims must join with people of good will all over the world in condemning Osama bin Laden's twisted, hateful version of Islam.

[Incidentally, as far as I can tell, I am the first news outlet to report on this little news item. My very first "scoop"! If you repost information from this report, please link back to The Third Path, including the retraction.]

[Incidentally, contrary to previous postings, in this blog entry, strikethrough indicates prior version text now deleted, and red text indicates new text added.]