Does God make climate change?
In Evangelical Country, an Apocalypse of Rising SeasIn Hampton Roads, Va., the epicenter of both the evangelical movement and climate change, land and ideology are losing the battle to a rising Atlantic.
BY MICHAEL SCHULSON, InsideClimate News
TUE, 12/08/2015 - 3:00AM
This project is the result of a months-long collaboration between InsideClimate News and Scalawag, a new print and online magazine dedicated to celebrating and examining the American South.
As Hurricane Gloria was bearing down on Virginia Beach in 1985, the evangelist Pat Robertson resolved to pray the hurricane away. On his TV show, The 700 Club, Robertson clasped hands with his co-host. “In the name of Jesus, we come against this Hurricane Gloria,” Robertson said. “We command that the storm would continue to go farther to the north and the east, and go harmlessly out into the Atlantic Ocean.”
With 100 mile-per-hour winds, Gloria was bearing down on the evangelical mission that Robertson had started by buying a defunct TV station to broadcast Christian programming. Twenty-five years later, The 700 Club was nationally syndicated, and Robertson was one of the country’s best-known televangelists. He had started a university in Virginia Beach. He had just interviewed Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office. He was contemplating a run for president.
When Gloria swerved northward and hit Long Island instead, Robertson took it as a sign. “I felt, interestingly enough, that if I couldn’t move a hurricane, I could hardly move a nation,” he later said in an interview. Robertson’s bid for higher national office did not succeed, but his ministry helped the evangelical movement acquire sustained electoral clout. Today, White evangelical Christians form a major voting bloc within the Republican Party.