When a powerful tropical storm sweeps close enough to wipe out the first day of the Republican National Convention, is it a sign of divine intervention?
A small, but significant, segment of Republican voters believe that extreme weather is more than a random interaction of atmospheric forces. When hurricanes or droughts or earthquakes inflict suffering on humanity, these folks take it as a sign of God's punishment. What then do we make of the storm that is sweeping by Tampa?
Is the Almighty angered because the party that claims to speak for devout Americans is about to nominate a Mormon and a Roman Catholic as their candidates for president and vice president? Fundamentalist Christians long believed Mormons were a heretical cult, and Catholics were tools of the wicked "Whore of Rome." Maybe the new tolerance toward non-Protestant politicians is courting wrath from on high.
Or is the Man Upstairs peeved because the GOP still keeps the door to the convention open just a crack for gay Republicans? The party platform not only condemns same-sex marriage, but also rules out civil unions for homosexuals. Still, Casey Pick, program director for the Log Cabin Republicans, insists that the Republican National Committee continues to give gays and lesbians "a place at the table." Maybe that extra chair for sodomites is an abomination unto the Lord.
Or could it be something more unexpected? Could God be irritated because some of the Republicans who claim to speak for him are breaking his commandments?
On Monday, while the convention delegates had plenty of time on their hands, many of them attended the Faith and Freedom rally featuring Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly. At the event, the 88-year-old firebrand of Christian conservatism tore into President Obama for waging war on religion. She went way beyond the usual complaints about his support for abortion rights and access to contraceptives for women working at church-supported institutions. She repeated a series of myths that have been debunked repeatedly, such as the one that claims Obama always excises the words "endowed by their Creator" whenever he quotes the Declaration of Independence.
Maybe, unlike Schlafly, the Lord checked out YouTube and found Obama has used that phrase on many occasions. Could it be that God is sick of so-called Christian leaders lying and bearing false witness by repeating falsehoods churned up from the far edges of right-wing media?
Naw, probably not. Tropical Storm Issac was likely always intended as another blast at New Orleans for continuing to give shelter to gay poets, jazz musicians and drunk college women who flash their breasts for a string of Mardi Gras beads. The rain and wind in Tampa are mere collateral damage that faithful Republicans should recognize as a blessing.
After all, the storm forced Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to rush back home, thus saving the delegates from another disappointing speech by a onetime GOP golden boy who has failed to develop the knack of fervently lying for the Lord.