The Universist Movement has conducted a survey of Sunday Sermons given after Hurricane Katrina, finding a disturbing trend. Dark Ages theology is still alive and well, serving as the bedrock of modern Christianity. Christianityís ridiculous intellectual response to this historic calamity cannot be forgotten. It is time to move on to more progressive, faithless religious philosophy.
Birmingham, Alabama September 7, 2005† -- The Universist Movement is raising concern with the overwhelming opinion of Christian leaders on the destruction of New Orleans. A variety of mainstream Christian voices ranging from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to the Archdiocese of New Orleans are united in the belief that Hurricane Katrina was the will of God. Russell Moore, Dean of Southern Seminary, interpreted the Hurricane as part of God's curse of Eden and cited ominous words from Revelations that proclaim "nothing unclean will ever enter [Heaven]." "The hope," Moore wrote, "is for Biloxi, Miss., and all of the created universe, to be redeemed and restored in Christ. There will come a day when the curse is reversed, and the Gulf Coast along with the entire cosmos fully reflects the glory of a resurrected Messiah." New Orleans Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes has said "I'm convinced that God is going to purify us through this."
The Universist Movement has conducted a wide-ranging survey of sermons delivered on Sunday, September 4, 2005. The survey reveals a pervasive consensus of opinion across the breadth of Christendom. A few examples from among the hundreds of sermons striking similar notes follow:
J. Edward Norton, Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee:†
Norton quoted Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who said "happy storm that wrecks us on such a rock as this. Oh blessed Hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone.... The Lord will magnify his might in the midst of your distress."
Mark Chanski, Reformed Baptist Church, Holland, Michigan:
"I believe that there is a message from God brought to light in every dark providence" Chanski told his church. This disaster represents "the blast of God's judgment against sin." Chanski cited the Southern Decadence Festival as an example of New Orleans' sin. "The trumpets of God that are sounded throughout history are warning blasts, birth pangs about the arrival of the final ultimate birth and letting out of the wrath of God. Birth pangs are present here."
Ian Brown, Londonderry Free Presbyterian Church, Northern Ireland:
"If Hurricane Katrina was a contest between the power of God and the power of man, there has only been one winner." God punished the pollution of man, Brown preached. "It is an accepted fact that New Orleans was the most decadent large city in America. Politicians often referred to it as a banana republic, a city that thrived on corruption. It held several events each year celebrating undiluted sensual pleasure. People traveled in from far and wide to participate in the debauchery and the festivals that were held there. They celebrated the worst in human nature, and numbing ordinary sensibilities."
Chris Hodges, Church of the Highlands, Birmingham, Alabama:
"If there's ever been a city that's needed to be swept clean of the sin and the wickedness it's New Orleans," preached Chris Hodges, "and it's those gambling casinos along the gulf coast. And I'll tell ya, I think there's a shakin' goin' on that God's gonna use to bring us to a new day. I'm praying for revival, and I'm encouraging you the church - lift up your heads, don't be discouraged, this is our finest hour. This is what Christians do best."
Steve Wilkins, Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church, Monroe, Louisiana:
"God is the ruler of the storm" Wilkins preached. He cited Psalm 127:25, "He commands and raises the stormy wind which lifts up the waves of the sea." Wilkins said, "It's only when you've got a problem, it's only when God sends trouble, that you learn that you need to pray to Him."†
Alfred C. Hughes, Archbishop, Archdiocese of New Orleans:
"I'm convinced that God is going to purify us through this."
James E. Adams, Cornerstone Church, Mesa, Arizona:
"The voice of the Lord, seven times the voice of the Lord, echoes down through this storm, and God's power is made known right before us here."
Bob Vincent, Grace Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Louisiana:
"If we will not be enlightened by the light of Christ, we will be consumed by the chaos of pagan darkness.... No aspect of our nature has escaped the influence of sin."
Alan Dunn, Grace Covenant Baptist Church, Flemington, New Jersey:
"As we near the time of the second coming, we are to anticipate that there will be an increase of these dynamics, and we'll see many people believing in false religion - so much so, that Jesus asks the question in Luke 18:8 'When the son of man comes, will the find the Faith on the earth?'"
A.T. Stewart, Westside Baptist Church, Mableton, Georgia:
"As wicked as New Orleans is, I don't think it's any more wicked than Atlanta, New York, or San Francisco. But what I do believe, is that this destruction is God's call on this nation to repent." "Do we think we can continue to flaunt our sins before God and murder over a million unborn children every year? And flaunt immorality and sinfulness, and pornography all over the Internet, do we think we can continue to do this and God's just going to weep and look the other way?"
Tim Bourgeois, Tree of Life Christian Church, Canoga Park, California:
"When there are storm winds, they don't just meet because a low pressure area happens to meet with a high pressure area in the upper atmosphere and suddenly this wind just randomly, naturally occurs, and waters randomly fall along with it. This is God's word at work in the midst of his creation." Bourgeois preached that the Hurricane was God's judgment, and that those still alive have been spared by God's mercy, and Christians need to take this opportunity to convert them.
David Harrell, Calvary Bible Church, Joelton, Tennessee:
"America flaunts her sin in the face of a holy God. Ours is a culture of religious hypocrisy. Ours is a culture in defiance of God's holy law. There is a disbelief in our society that God will ever judge, and certainly there is the utter rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ and his word. Like those who refused to heed the warning to flee the wrath of the hurricane, I fear that millions continue to turn a deaf ear to creatures who beg them to repent, to flee from the wrath to come, the wrath of holy God, an eternal wrath, that will utterly eclipse what we saw with Katrina."
The survey did uncover several sermons insisting God has nothing to do with the weather. However, the rare laissez-faire theologians are no match for the overwhelming consensus of the Christian community and the Bible itself. There is a point at which liberal Christians must recognize they are not Christian at all - and that's a good thing. Universists argue that the problem is not God's control of the weather, but with a religion that lends itself so easily to such interpretation. This is 2005, but Christianity's various denominations were unified this week in thought circa 1205.†
New Orleans was one of the world's great cities. It had problems that were the proper province of public policy and social science to address, like any city. But the condemnation of New Orleans across the Christian community highlights the distrust for human creativity, culture and passion that comes from giving so much honor and respect to a select few ancient texts. The world has moved on since the dawn of Christianity and its heights in the Dark Ages. The Christian response to the loss of New Orleans represents the failure of an outdated system of thought to understand the value and meaning of one of the modern world's most precious jewels.
About the Universist Movement:
The Universist Movement is an international organization focused on individual wellbeing, social progress, and the promotion of existential questioning. It advocates Universism, a rational religious philosophy elevating relative truth at the expense of group authority in metaphysical questions.