Sunday Sermon: Poe Strikes Again

There’s an article making the rounds that has Pat Robertson claiming the earthquake in Chile shows God’s anger toward that country:

Citing what he described as the “the persecution of a great hero who rid their land of Godless communists” as a possible cause, prominent TV evangelist and amateur seismologist Pat Robertson today argued that the 8.8 magnitude of the earthquake that struck Chile early this morning should serve as a warning to the population that “God is even angrier with them than he is with the people of Haiti.”

“If I had to guess, I’d say it must have to do with Chile’s persecution and attempted prosecution of their great former leader, and a personal hero of mine, Augusto Pinochet – who, it should be noted, had never been convicted of a crime when the Lord called him home three years ago.”  The popular host of ‘The 700 Club’ and longtime bingo circuit icon also added, “General Pinochet not only assisted the CIA in the overthrow of Chile’s Marxist government, but is widely credited with personally arranging the meetings of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of his countrymen with Jesus.”

How far into that article did you get before you were convinced it was satire? I got to the last sentence (though in hindsight, “amateur seismologist” should have been a tip-off). The rest of it, while jaw-droppingly wacky, is actually in character for Robertson, who is known for blaming natural disasters on the victims, and who defended Pinochet in a 1993 book called “The Turning Tide.”

That’s the problem illustrated by Poe’s Law, which states that it’s hard to parody religious fundamentalism, because no matter how bizarre and over-the-top you try to make your parody, there’s a good chance that some fundamentalist actually agrees with it.

(pic via Attending the World)

One response to this post.

  1. I admit it. I also misread the article as real until the last line. I also admit that I’d never heard of “Poe’s Law” before now. It’s hard to imagine a better example to go along with the link!


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