Rabbis Slam Televangelist For Condemning a Town

By Regina Avshalumova

Published November 18, 2005, issue of November 18, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Rev. Pat Robertson is drawing criticism from rabbis of all denominational stripes for suggesting that citizens of Pennsylvania’s Dover area no longer merit God’s protection because they voted out critics of evolution.

Robertson, who made his remarks during the November 10 broadcast of his daily show, “The 700 Club,” on the Christian Broadcasting Network, was upset that two days earlier the eight members of Dover’s school board — all Republicans — were voted out of office. The school board had drawn national attention and sparked a lawsuit by trying to introduce the Intelligent Design theory to the public high school curriculum.

“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God,” Robertson declared on his show. “You just rejected him from your city.”

Local religious Jewish leaders blasted Robertson immediately, including an Orthodox rabbi who supports the teaching of the controversial theory.

“I don’t do God’s judging, and I wouldn’t guess how God judges people,” said Rabbi Shaya Sackett of Congregation Degel Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Lancaster, Pa. Sackett added that he believed intelligent design “could and should be taught, under certain conditions.”

“[Robertson] is an embarrassment to any thoughtful religious person,” said Rabbi Irwin Goldenberg of Temple Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue in York, Pa. Goldenberg opposes the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classes.

“Most religious people would recognize that there are many ways of understanding God,” he said, adding that “[Robertson’s] view of a punishing God directly contradicts both Jewish and Christian theologies of a caring, loving God.”

The controversy began in earnest in mid-December 2004, when 11 local parents, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, took the school board to federal court to contest its decision to mention Intelligent Design in the high school curriculum.

Adherents of Intelligent Design believe that certain features of the universe and of living beings are too complex to be explained by natural selection; they say that instead they are the result of an intelligent “designer.” Supporters of the Dover school board said they wanted to present other alternatives to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“What we’re doing is informing children that there are other theories,” said Edward Rowand, the pastor at Rohler’s Assembly of God Church in Dover.

Rowand declined to comment on Robertson’s statement.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.