Televangelist Pat Robertson was making headlines Tuesday for two vastly different reasons. Reason No. 1: He wants to decriminalize marijuana. Reason No. 2: He says the tornadoes that have devastated parts of the Midwest could have been prevented if enough people had prayed.
As a result, Robertson found himself in the unusual position of being both mocked and cheered in the online world at virtually the same time. Robertson made both comments during recent airings of his “700 Club.”
The televangelist said that “liberals” are to blame for punitive laws that put too many young people behind bars for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
“I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hard-core criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance,” he said, according to a transcript of the show obtained by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and posted online. “It’s time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can’t do it anymore.”
The transcript was making the rounds Tuesday to a surprised Twitterverse. “Words fail me,” said one retweeter.
Meanwhile, Robertson was being lampooned and denounced in other circles for his comments about the destructive tornadoes that roared through the Midwest and the South last week, killing dozens.
Robertson was asked “Why did God send the tornadoes?”
He said that the victims were partially to blame.
“God didn’t send the tornadoes,” he said. “God set up a world in which certain currents interfere and interact with other currents.
“If enough people were praying, He would intervene. You could pray. Jesus stilled the storm. You could still storms.”
Residents in Georgia said they were offended by the remarks.
“Personally, I thank God that I’m alive and that the damage wasn’t greater,” David Wilson told Fox 5 news. “I think that my neighbors are safe and not harmed in any way, although they’ve lost quite a bit of property. But this weather, I can’t say this is God’s fault.”
On Twitter, the remarks were being mocked. “See? That’s why Hollywood never gets hit by tornadoes. Its all the prayer,” tweeted comedy writer Merrill Markoe.
Robertson, of course, is quite at home making eye-popping statements.
Over the years, he has suggested that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were God’s punishment for the U.S. toleration of and homosexuality. More recently, he said he condoned divorce when a spouse has Alzheimer’s.