Pat Robertson, host of "The 700 Club," said Monday during the program's airing that God does not send tornadoes "to kill people" and that those affected by the deadly string of twisters in the Midwest and Southeast only had themselves to blame for living in tornado-prone areas.
Answering a viewer from Illinois as to why it is that "God sent the tornadoes," Robertson was quick to respond that "God didn't send tornadoes."
The question, featured in the program's "Bring It On" segment, in which the program invites "millions of viewers" to send in questions about "life, love, finances, morality, and what it means to be a Christian."
As co-host Terry Meeuwsen listened, Robertson went on to provide a meteorological explanation as to why and how tornadoes occur.
"God doesn't send tornadoes to hurt people," the Christian Broadcasting Network founder said. "He doesn't send – what you call 'acts of God' – but they're not. So, all I can say is – why do you build houses in places where tornadoes are apt to happen?"
Meeuwsen suggested, however, "The bigger question for people spiritually is always...why didn't He intervene?"
Robertson responded by speaking about prayer being able to "still storms" – as exemplified by Jesus in the Bible – before turning to offer a scientific explanation for hurricanes. He ended his commentary by repeating once more that people who suffer from natural disasters only had themeselves to blame for deciding to build houses "on the edge of an ocean."
"It's their fault, it's not God's," Robertson concluded. "Don't blame God for doing something foolish."
The viewer who posed the question about God sending tornadoes revealed that he was from Illinois, which is one of the handful of states that saw a string of tornadoes and freakish weather over the past few days that has claimed at least 39 lives, including that of a 14-month-old girl. The little girl, from New Pekin, Ind., was initially found alive in a field after surviving the tornado, but later succumbed to her injuries. She also reportedly lost her mother, father and two siblings in the storm.
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Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama and Georgia also experienced fatalities related to the tornadoes that struck last Friday. Recovery efforts were currently underway in those states, with faith-based organization Samaritan's Purse working with a church in Charlotte, N.C., which also saw storms.
On Saturday, "The 700 Club" posted a link to Operation Blessing on its Facebook page, informing followers as to one of the ways in which they could aid tornado victims in Illinois.
One follower, Donovan White, responded to the Operation Blessing post on Monday, well after the "Bring It On" segment had aired, writing:
"Which is it Pat? This time around you said [G]od doesn't cause tornadoes 'it's just nature' but during Katrina and the Haiti earthquake you said they were being punished for being evil...you make it up as you go and no one seems to notice!"
Also addressing the string of deadly tornadoes Monday, Desiring God Ministries founder John Piper insisted that God indeed was responsible for the storms that had claimed dozens of lives.
Writing in a blog post titled "Fierce Tornadoes and the Fingers of God," the theologian and pastor writes: "We do not ascribe such independent power to Mother Nature or to the devil. God alone has the last say in where and how the wind blows. If a tornado twists at 175 miles an hour and stays on the ground like a massive lawnmower for 50 miles, God gave the command."
Piper wrote about the deadly storms as if they were sent by God as an act of judgment, and that those who survived should take it as a warning to turn from sin.
The Bethlehem Baptist Church pastor wrote, "Therefore, God's will for America under his mighty hand, is that every Christian, every Jew, every Muslim, every person of every religion or non-religion, turn from sin and come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus rules the wind. The tornadoes were his.
"But before Jesus took any life in rural America, he gave his own on the rugged cross. Come to me, he says, to America — to the devastated and to the smugly self-sufficient. Come to me, and I will give you hope and help now, and in the resurrection, more than you have ever lost."