When I was leaving the Reason Rally, there were some fundamentalist Christians standing at the edge of the rally area yelling various things to atheists walking by. One of the things they were yelling as I passed them was, “God delights in your calamity.”
After I walked by, I saw quite a few other atheists trying to engage these Christians in conversation. I was on my way out of the rally at that point and I didn’t really see a reason to engage him as he didn’t seem to be interested in actual conversation. That phrase just really stuck with me though: “God delights in your calamity.”
I really do find it to be quite an interesting phrase because it really tells us what we need to know about fundamentalist Christians and religion in general. Let’s say it is true that God exists and that he “delights in our calamity,” what does it tell us about God and more importantly, what does that tell us about the people who choose to worship that God?
Well, that’s simple. It tells us that God’s an asshole and those people who choose to follow him are assholes too. If you truly believe that God delights in the calamity of others, then he would be a despicable being. Think about it. If you were in some kind of pain and I stood there pointing and laughing at your agony, you would think me a terrible person… and you would be right! That would be an asshole thing to do. It is made even worse if you knew that I had the ability to cure your pain, but decided to delight in your pain instead.
Yes, if God exists he would have the power to heal others and to prevent their calamity from happening. If you knew someone was about to be raped and you had the power and were in a position to prevent it, why wouldn’t you? But what if instead, you stood there, watching the rape happen, and then delighted in the calamity of the person being raped? It’s bad enough that God could have prevented the calamity and chose not to, but to actually delight in the calamity of others? That’s horrible.
Even more horrible are the people who follow and worship such a deity. If such a deity did exist (and fortunately he doesn’t), it would be immoral not to actively speak out and fight against him. It would be unconscionable to actually stand by praising him knowing what as asshole he is. And make no mistake the Bible makes it pretty clear that this Christian fundamentalist is correct. According to the Bible, the character of God really does seem to delight in the calamity of others.
The story of the Exodus immediately comes to mind. In that story, God so delighted in the calamity of his own chosen people that even when the Pharaoh decided to set the Hebrews free, God stepped in and “hardened his heart” so that he would continue to enslave the Hebrews and treat them poorly. God apparently did not want to allow their calamity to end.
That’s just one example, but the Bible is filled with such stories of God delighting in the calamity of others. The Bible even goes so far as to say that God is a jealous god. That’s what jealousy is all about; delighting in the calamity of those you are jealous of.
Sadly, this Christian didn’t just make up this interesting phrase. He was actually quoting scripture! Proverbs 1:26, says just that: “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.”
This fundamentalist Christian isn’t alone in his view either. Recently, when a fundamentalist Muslim shot up a gay nightclub killing 49 people, there were Christian leaders who while condemning Islam for the attack, also delighted in the deaths of all those who were murdered. Obviously, this is only a small fraction of Christian fundamentalists, but it speaks to this very issue.
Personally, I don’t really care that the imaginary God of the Bible delights in the calamity of others. God is an imaginary fictional character. Zod from Superman also delights in the calamity of others and I lose zero sleep over it. My concern is with the actual people who believe God is real and choose to worship a being they believe delights in the calamity of others. They are making a moral decision… or in this case an immoral decision to worship a being they acknowledge delights in the suffering of others.
If you are a Christian who acknowledges that God delights in the suffering of others, then you are not a moral person. You are not the “good guy” in the story. You aren’t even the bad guy. You are the weak-minded follower of the bad guy. Is that really who you want to be?