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{Published in the Colorado Springs Gazette, November 2005}

[[Idiot|Pat Robertson]] is an idiot.

What else can you say about a man who, just a few days ago, he did at apocalyptic events for a small town in Pennsylvania when an election didn’t go his way?

Robertson’s statement, quoted extensively in the media and available in a video clip on the Internet, tells Dover residents not to turn to God if disaster strikes. Their crime? Voting out their anti-evolution school board. Pats starting lineup went zero for eight Election Day. He is not a happy camper.

Robertson’s semi-prophetic statement is exactly the kind of eco-advocating, weaseling gibberish that con men and hustlers have employed since time immemorial. Being a modern day prophet is no big trick. It just takes an understanding of people. That, and the total lack of conscience.

The trick to predicting the future is to say something attention-getting but vague, something you couldn’t possibly be held accountable for. If the event you predicted doesn’t come to pass, nobody will remember. It’s human nature to forget the unremarkable.

But if you get it right (and eventually will), tell everyone how you hit it on the nose. Does anyone believe if, heaven forbid, a tornado hits Dover, Robertson will say, “it’s just a coincidence”? Of course not. He’s going to shout the truth of his prophetic vision from the rooftops. Or at least from his TV studio.

To show you how the scam works, I hereby proclaim that I have the gift of prophecy. At the very least I have a stronger claim than Robertson. That’s because I made it clear, verifiable and testable prediction well before the event occurred, something that Rev. Robertson has never done. On these very pages 2 weeks ago, I predicted that total and complete failure of Robertson’s cause. That’s right: I called the Dover school board election. Look it up if you want to.

Of course, if I had got it wrong, I wouldn’t be mentioning that right now, and you would never have noticed. Human nature, remember?  Hype your hits, mute your misses. That’s the name of the prediction game.

Still, let’s hear your Robertson a little and see where his ideas lead. I have to wonder what kind of natural disaster or Robertson is expecting. After all, plenty of people in Dover voted the way he wanted them to. Will the town be hit by a flood that only draws voters against incumbent school boards? A tornado that limits its carnage to schools with evolution-only classrooms? An earthquake that destroys atheist-owned businesses but spare 700 Club backers? The mind boggles.

And in the aftermath of such a disaster, I’ll Robertson tell his organizations to respond? “Operation Blessing” is Robertson’s charity for disaster relief. From what I can tell, it does good work. Here’s a quote from its website:

“When disaster strikes, Operation Blessing is there. With emergency relief supplies, water, food and medical care, Operation Blessing teams meet urgent needs worldwide and remain alongside disaster victims as they recovery (sic).” Maybe the grammar is a little iffy, but they are obviously committed to doing the right thing.

But here is the $700 question: what if a disaster hits Dover? Will Operation Blessing help? How can it be there, when Pat says God won’t be?

The truly sad idea behind natural disasters as the wrath of God is that it’s defeatist. It’s a slap in the face of the human spirit. With something more idealistic in mind, I want to use my crystal ball once more. These predictions will be harder to test, because I won’t live to see them. But perhaps this column will live on in a Google-retrievable data store in the 22nd century, running Windows 2105. Maybe someone in the future will read these words and hold me accountable:

I predict within the next 50 years, we’ll be able to forecast earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.

I predict within next century, will be able to control them.

I predict we will do so at the very same science that Robertson so heatedly condemns.

I predict people come to understand prophecies of disaster not as inevitable and preordained, but is something avoidable for the exercise of free will very provided we have the wisdom and Kurds to act.

Hmm. That last one sounds oddly familiar. I think I learned in Sunday school.