Another religious interloper is using her interpretation of scripture to denounce homosexuality. Is there a thin line between these people who claim to hear the word of God in their readings of the bible and those who claim to hear voices that push them to kill those who pose a threat in their mind only?
Throughout the course of human history there are those in every culture that claim to have a direct line to the supernatural forces that many of us are aware of but few, if any, can really claim to have experienced in any real, physical way. Not all prophets have a direct line to God (if they ever really did) but that doesn’t stop them from imagining as much. Take the case of the up and coming fundamentalist televangelist Cindy Jacobs of Generals International.
Ms. Jacobs has stated in a recent program (see video here) that viewers have beseeched her with questions as to what was the cause of the apparent instantaneous death of “thousands of black birds” in Arkansas along with 100,000 drum fish dying in state bodies of water around the same time. Ms. Jacobs feels that these are acts of God, “being the God of Nature” that he is. But she also informs us that “we don’t always know what God is saying” as she proceeds to tell us what she thinks God is saying.
Quoting from the Old Testament in Hosea 4, Ms. Jacobs connects the message of the old prophet as he tells the children of Israel that their bad behavior has caused the “land [to] mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.”
This was at a time when ancient mystics didn’t understand the cause and effect of natural phenomena as we witness in Joshua 10:12-13 where the Israelite God made “the sun stand still and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies”
Yes kids, take note; there are consequences for bad behavior; consequences to innocent species. God will punish YOU by making the birds and fish sick around you. But I digress. From this passage Ms. Jacob makes quite a leap to connect the bird and fish deaths in Arkansas with the recent repeal of Don’t ask; Don’t tell. It’s probably safe to assume that the “bad behavior” Ms. Jacobs feels has caused the deaths of these poor creatures is homosexuality. Though I doubt this is the case, an argument could be made that some bad behavior of incestuous relations that Arkansans are suspected of could put many of us into a state of hurt.
Now I know for many of you, this one would not have been your first bible-related causation assessment. Many of you may have deciphered such inexplicable results as a demonstration of God’s power by showing doubter’s how he can end flight capabilities for birds (Matt 10:28-29): “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father?” Clearly some backwoods yokel had to be repeatedly shown this thousands of times to prove it was more than lightning or fireworks. The dead fish were thrown in for added effect.
But seriously, I think that Ms. Jacobs can now be compared with Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church who hears God telling him to picket soldiers funerals because they are somehow linked to homosexuality and Terry Jones, the Florida Preacher who also heard God’s voice to agitate civil minded Muslims by burning their holy book. To people such as these, God’s hate message carries as much weight if not more than his message of compassion.
This neurotic behavior is symptomatic of people who feel its okay to hurt people we hate, yet rational people hate that people get hurt from people who suffer a form of neurosis. Does the tragedy in Tucson come to mind when I point this out? Oh dear, have I gone and made an absurd connection along the same lines Cindy the prophet has?
There is the remote possibility that if indeed God was expressing anger towards humans on innocent birds and fish that it might be an anger aimed at stupid people who just don’t get it. This is borne out in the very chapter of Hosea Ms. Jacobs was using to connect gays with bird and fish deaths. “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you …”(Hos 4:6). Now I might be accused of taking this out of context but why would my interpretation of ancient scriptures be any less valid than Ms. Jacobs?
Ms. Jacobs’ notion that nature speaks to us when we behave “against God’s principles” is in conflict with the belief that he might be angry because we go against God’s natural laws. The climate science that indicates an increase in violent and more frequent natural disasters has indeed been rejected by many climate deniers; many of them religious fundamentalist and free-marketers. Fish dying in the sea and birds dropping from the air may be connected to man’s toxic waste into our eco-system but that would have possibilities that impact corporate profits so dismissing this is an easy one, right?
Fear is an innate instinct, God-given if you prefer, that aids the human species to avoid life threatening conditions. Yet the signs that threaten our existence are not always clear to us at a given time so it helps to have people who have a better sense of things preferably by those who have diligently studied nature. Before there was science though there were the soothsayers and mystics who attributed inexplicable acts of nature in their less sophisticated understanding of the world as messages from God.
As the window of science gave us a better view into our physical world, explanations apart from the metaphysical evolved and the cause and effect aspect of seeing how events unfolded slowly began to challenge the religious leaders views of what makes things go bump in the night. Thinking in terms of man’s condition as a result of a punishing or rewarding God was challenged by science that has more verifiable evidence and can predict things pretty reliably, eliminating confrontations of postulated absolutes concerning the spiritual world that vary from person to person and culture to culture.
There is the science that comes from man’s efforts over long periods of time and through careful analysis of the data and then there are the views of so-called prophets whose thought processes filter information of reality and convert it into scriptural translations, often for the purpose of justifying the condemnation of social behavior that those scriptures have traditionally considered taboo. One gives us some degree of assurance but with caveats; the other gives us rigid absolutes with no more proof than a traditional belief that simply claims to be true.
Because things changed slowly these social-religious codes withstood the test of time. It was still just as easy to believe in 1000 B.C.E. that there were four corners of the earth and the sun revolved around our planet as it was in 1000 A.D. Once technology enabled man to see beyond our stratosphere and sail beyond suspected edges of our world, all of the ancient views were slowly dispelled, but not without a fight.
Ms. Jacob and those like her are unwilling to let go of a practice that sustains their control over people who, like themselves, are fearful. Fearful that despite the fact that biblical prophecy aimed at our generation is wanting because the second coming keeps getting further and further out of reach from its original expected time.
As people’s belief in this weakens then other core principles of the faith will also weaken. Thus, out of fear, the Cindy Jacobs’ of our age will always make some connection between their rendering of scripture and natural events that seem, to them,to parallel similar occurrences documented in those ancient texts.
Religious views are a product of one’s belief of the unknown. Some are helpful to deal with our complicated and often chaotic world. Some are not helpful and in fact harmful to many who zealously claim them as truth. To extrapolate some religious views to the real world as people like Ms. Jacobs does with dead birds and homosexuality is not only unhealthy for that faith system when taken to certain limits but presents a danger to society for acting on our human instinct of fear; an instinct that told us to flee from immediate danger, not remain in ignorance of the threat we ran from.