Hurricane Harvey is expected to hit the southern coast of Texas Friday evening and bring with it highly damaging winds and rain. Though it’s been years since the region has been hit by such a strong storm, hurricanes have become more frequent and intense in recent years. The reason for that is the warming of waters and the removal of natural barriers that feed the storm and protect the inland, respectively.
But in the wake of prior hurricanes and natural disasters, another theory is often proffered. The moral decay of the human race, this theory goes, is what’s encouraging God to exercise his wrath. Here are prior instances of this case being made, including by some people who now have a captive audience inside the Trump White House.
While Hurricane Sandy was causing $50 billion in damage along the eastern seaboard, several conspiracy sites, including Alex Jones’s InfoWars, suggested President Barack Obama engineered the mega-storm. They said the president used HAARP, a military research weather program, to create the natural disaster so he could present himself as a strong leader in the face of adversity, thereby securing his re-election. “Following the 'perfect storm,'" wrote Infowars' Kurt Nimmo, "the establishment media will naturally provide all the propaganda Obama needs to sweep the election on Tuesday, November 6, a week after the hurricane is projected to hit." In the past, Trump has praised Jones and his “amazing” reputation and has made guests appearances on the theorist’s radio show.
In 2011, 5,000 blackbirds fell dead in Arkansas on new years. Anti-gay activist Cindy Jacobs blamed the incident on Obama and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a policy implemented by President Bill Clinton, a former Arkansas governor. “The blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Ark,” she said. “Well the governor of Arkansas’s name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called 'don’t ask, don’t tell' by a former governor, this was proposed, Bill Clinton. As so, could there be a connection between this passage [Hosea 4] and now that we’ve had the repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ where people now legally in the United States have broken restraints with the Scripture because the Scripture says in Romans 1 that homosexuality is not allowed."
Earthquakes in the mid-Atlantic
Archconservative Orthodox rabbi Yehuda Levin also blamed natural disasters on homosexuality. After a 2011 earthquake in Virginia the rabbi said, in a YouTube video later taken down for hate speech, "God brings earthquakes to the world" because of homosexuality. “The Talmud states, ‘You have shaken your male member in a place where it doesn’t belong. I too, will shake the Earth,” he said.
Earthquakes on the west coast
Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson blamed gays, lesbians, pro-choice activists, and “perversity” for the 6.7 magnitude earth that hit the San Fernando Valley in 1994, causing around $25 billion in damage and 72 deaths. Robertson, a consistent supporter of the Trump administration, interviewed the president on his show in July.
Abortion caused Hurricane Katrina, according to Robertson. "I was reading... a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood,” he said after the 2005 storm hit the gulf coast. “Have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected?"
Natural disasters in general.
Robertson has frequently blamed U.S. efforts to facilitate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians as tampering with “God’s wrath.” In 2013, the televangelist told his audience that, “[F]rom a prophetic standpoint, every time the United States gets involved in some kind of a pressure on Israel to split their land, there’s some natural disaster that happens here in America. There was a very cogent book written about ... disasters that come on America. Jerusalem was given to the Jews, it is their capital, and the whole idea of splitting that capital is just folly.” But it’s not just Middle East peace efforts that Robertson has viewed as problematic. In the late 1990s, he warned that if Disney World kept allowing gay tourists, there would be a rise in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombs and "possibly a meteor."