According to nearly everyone, New Orleans got nailed because of sin. This isn’t just the opinion of the evangelicals. It is the opinion of atheistic liberals.
European papers assert Katrina was the punishment the US received for the sin of failing to sign onto the Kyoto accord. Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote a column saying Katrina happened as a result of and punishment for Gov Barber's ( R-MS) work against the Kyoto Treaty. Other American Democrats say the sinner was President Bush. He sinned by sending troops to Iraq instead of spending the money on flood control measures in New Orleans.
Islamic militants believe Katrina was Allah’s punishment for the Iraq war. Others suggest the hurricane was God's punishment on the U.S. for cooperating in the removal of Jews from the Gaza strip.
A Catholic pointed out four years ago that Galveston, on the other side of the bay, was destroyed by a category-four hurricane that arrived in 1900 after the city hosted a Mardi Gras with a costume theme of "Beelzebub and the Devils." Ryan Lee points out that Katrina – the name means “pure” – struck New Orleans on the feast of the beheading of John the Baptist, just two days before the scheduled start of the 34th annual Southern Decadence festival, a six-day public homosexual orgy that New Orleans was supposed to host from August 31 to September 5th. The Baptist, you will remember, was beheaded for having told the king to stop debauching himself with his brother’s wife.
So, no matter who you ask, everyone seems to agree that New Orleans had it coming. The primary difference between all of these commentators is why. The Christians think New Orleans got slammed because the inhabitants of the city sinned. The atheists, pagans and Muslims think New Orleans got slammed because people outside of New Orleans sinned.
In a way, they are both right. As I pointed out in the essay on the Indian Ocean tsunami nine months ago, God doesn’t cause evil. He permits us to cause it, if we insist upon it. Grace empowers the world. If we insist on removing grace, if we insist on ordering God out of our world, then our world will fall apart.
For an atheist, for someone who sees politics as their whole world, the reign of an evangelical Christian who wreaks war upon anti-Christian Muslims and refuses to sign onto Mother Earth protection is already a world falling apart. New Orleans is just a finely-tuned example of how bad it is.
For Christians who see one out of three children in the nation murdered in the womb, homosexuality constantly promoted, and debauchery on every television show, it is also a world already falling apart.
No matter who we are, New Orleans isn’t really a surprise. It is what we knew was coming, because we all know that things are terribly wrong. We may not agree on how these things are wrong, but we knew in the back of our minds that something like this had to happen.
On September 11th, two buildings fell and 3000 died. It was a shock if only because we had grown so blind to our own injustices. Since that day, Americans have gone through a long period of self-examination, trying to discover what drove that event. No matter what answer the various commentators have arrived at, the self-examination has made us aware of moral problems in our nation that are obvious now in a way that simply wasn’t true four years ago.
This week we haven’t just lost two buildings. We’ve lost an entire city. Where thousands were homeless, now millions are. What took months to clean up before will take years now.
Revelation is like that. God reveals slowly, allowing us time to reflect and adjust. Four years ago, two towers were taken. This week, a city has been taken. What else will have to be taken before we recognize what is going on?