A glittering fountain of compassion and empathy is Pat Robertson. Can you tell that’s sarcasm? Because Pat isn’t compassionate or empathetic. Maybe if you are his kind of bigot he displays these traits, as when he sympathized with a caller who is worried that The Gay™ might ruin the family Thanksgiving. For others, not so much. Whether he’s shilling for reverse mortgage lenders, advising people on financial questions or telling a man to leave his church if it approves of “gay marriage,” Pat shows that his agenda is paramount. Certainly it’s more important than the peons who send him their milk money.
On Monday’s edition of “The 700 Club,” Pat fielded a call from a viewer whose question called for both compassion and empathy but who received neither from Pat. The viewer sent this in:
I have been praying for a friend’s wife that had cancer [sic]. She passed away. Why are my prayers not being heard? Am I not worthy? Am I doing something wrong? Should I keep praying if I’m not being heard?
This person is obviously distressed, feeling irrelevant and powerless. This should have been met with sympathy for the loss and assurances that this person is worthy as a human being. Setting aside the theological bent of the questions, this person is hurting and feeling worthless. This is where compassion and empathy come in, two things that good old Pat is clueless about.
To a human being who is hurting, feeling helpless and ignored, Pat Robertson responded thusly:
You don’t know what went on with that wife. You don’t know what was in her heart. You don’t know what sin she had committed. You don’t know how much unbelief was there. You don’t know whether she hated her husband. You don’t know any of these things… You’ve been praying and God says, ‘Okay, I’m sorry, but the answer is no.’
What kind of ignoramus… no, wait… how could anyone who presents himself as a member of the clergy have said something so cruel and unfeeling? How could he have ignored the obvious pain of one of his viewers? Whether or not prayer works, here was an opportunity for Robertson to practice his profession. To do his freaking job. Instead, he starts victim-blaming someone who can’t even defend herself. Then he tells this viewer that God refused them. It’s abhorrent.
In my years as a member of the clergy, I have learned many things. The first of which is to look behind the words, below the surface. The trappings of religion have little to do with actual faith. This person, who called Pat Robertson for help, is having a crisis of faith. This should not be met with religious platitudes. Religion and faith are not the same things. This person has lost faith not only in God but in her/himself. The human being under those names and scriptures and sermons feels small and insignificant.
“Well, yes,” the atheists will respond. “We are.” And they would be correct in the grand scheme of things. Yet we walking, talking masses of matter need to feel acknowledged. We need to know that we matter. Some have been taught that this will come from a deity. Some of us know better. We know that only other people can give us that acknowledgement.
And it’s such a simple thing to do. Often, it consists of just listening — really listening. Smile at someone. Say “Hello.” Be kind, as the saying goes, for we are all fighting a difficult battle. The greatest thing we can do is help one another along the way.
Maybe the money has deafened that response in Pat Robertson’s case. He may have listened, but he did not hear.
Here’s the clip via Right Wing Watch:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQRjqO_NKxw]
Featured Image via Screen Capture