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Is Hurricane Katrina God’s punishment on the USA?

I suggest that Katrina and Rita are not God’s punishment but in fact what we call “hurricane season” and that what some believe to be “God punishing America” is in fact, well, weather.

What do you think?

Into the Mystic…

Alex McManus


22 responses to “American Policy and Hurricane Katrina”

  1. JVD Avatar

    It is really not that simple. Has anyone read the Kyoto treaty? I have, parts at least, and it does not cover many countries who are the biggest poluters, I believe India for example.

    Another point – there are as many experts I have read recently who say global warming is a cause for more hurricanes as there are those who don’t. At any rate, punishment? They can question those who choose to build near the ocean, but they can’t call it punishment. JVD

  2. James Petticrew Avatar
    James Petticrew

    The punishment of God thing is nonsense and we need to say it, but I do think that the States is sticking its head in the sand on the whole pollution thing. The only place I know in the world where the vast majority of the scientists aren’t saying global warming is a fact is in the States. The extent to which it will affect us is in dispute, but I have friend who works in this field and she says the international community excepting the States accepts the problem.
    Maybe this meddling for me as a visitor to say but I do think the automitive industry and oil companies have undue power and influence here. I am still confused as to why people drive cars with such huge engines. Most of the cars round Lexington I see are are either these HUGE 4x4s or pick up trucks, most of them have only one person in them. That can’t be good for either the enviroment or their bank balance. Probably said enough already, but we can’t expect the emerging nations to show any sort of restraint when it comes to pollution unless the first world nations are leading the way.

  3. tommy Avatar

    Let me get this straight. God is punishing the US because we did not sign an agreement promising to lower emissions of carbon dioxide? Come on. I am not going to pretend to know why God allows certain things to happen, but I hardly want to take the stance that God is, to quote Bruce (from Bruce Almighty) “a mean kid sitting on an anthill with a magnifying glass” and we’re the ants. Perhaps we should not look at what God has allowed as a curse, but in fact a blessing – and a call to mobilization. While I grieve for those who have suffered loss, I am extremely moved to watch people come together to show love and kindness to their neighbors.

  4. Micah Avatar

    more questions…
    Should Christians drive SUV’s? Should Christians drink coffee or buy foods from manufacturers that pay overseas farmers ridiculously low prices for their crops? Should Christians buy clothes from companies that outsource production responsibilities to the lowest bidder (meaning sweatshops and below-poverty-line wages)? Should we all be aware of the injustices committed to maintain our comparitively lavish lifestyles?
    Is God punishing the States? I doubt it.
    Does He have every reason to “punish” us? Absolutely. The Western World…especially North America needs to open its eyes to the growing disparity our lifestyle is imposing on other people around the world. Shouldn’t Christians be leading the way when it comes to social justice? My question to Tommy’s call for mobilization is “How?” How do we get people on the same page about this? Christians or not, it’s hard to look at our car or our wardrobe, or our lifestyle and realize that we are contributing to the problem and not the solution…but we as Christians are surely aware that we aren’t supposed to be that attatched to the trappings of this world anyway, right? I’m just saying it should be an easier sell to Christians…is anyone else out there thinking these things?

  5. tommy Avatar

    I feel you. It is a shame that the world leads the way to meet the needs of mankind. While the world is being ravaged by “storms” the church does not mobilize UNTIL disaster strikes. In the meantime we bunker down in our storm cellars with all of our worldly goods and wait for the world to lead. Why? It’s safe. WE have to lead, and by we I mean you and I. We have to infect others & the church to be as God intended them to be. We have got to be stormchasers instead of waiting for disaster to strike and then coming out of the cellar to lend a hand.

  6. El Bob Baker Avatar

    I’m not gonna say God is or is not punishing the US. He has every reason to, and maybe He did, maybe it’s just the weather. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions fast but punishing us for not signing a piece of paper seems to juvinille for God to me. The problem with saying that God is punishing the US is that the person saying it usually has or develops a holier than thou complex. Whether or not God is punishing us with the hurricanes, His glory and power is shown through it in much the same way as 9/11. I have to question anyone who jumps to conclusions about such things so fast.

    El Bob

  7. Sam Radford Avatar

    Here’s something I wrote on my blog back on September 9th that I wrote in response to some Christians saying that Hurricane Katrina was the judgement of God due to the sin of New Orleans:

    I’ve been thinking quite a bit – as I’m sure most people around the world have been – about Hurricane Katrina. Lot’s of people no doubt have been asking questions about how this kind of tragedy could happen. And – more specifically – how a good God could allow such devastation to take place. Sadly, I was watching some Christian television last week, and heard a very highly regarded Christian leader referring to the hurricane as an act of God’s judgement because of the sinful practices of the city of New Orleans. I wasn’t surprised to hear some people saying that sort of thing, but I was very disappointed. I mean really, was God sitting on His throne thinking, “I’ve had it with those sinners…let’s kiss ‘em all”? I don’t think so. As I see it, we’re living in an era of grace and who says New Orleans is “more sinful” than any other city in the world? God doesn’t. He says ALL have sinned and fallen short of His glory. It is man who comes up with different categories of sin – not God.

    Having said that I really don’t believe the hurricane was an act of God’s judgement, I guess that still leaves the question of why maybe God didn’t intervene to stop it or something. Without wanting to get too theological, I do actually think that bad thinking about all of this kind of stuff actually flows from a limited understanding of what we Christians call “the fall”. It seems that most people have been taught about the “fall of man” (ie Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s command about what they couldn’t eat) and not been taught about the fall of creation. The world that we live in now is not the world God intended. Both humanity and creation are out of sync with God’s original purposes and both have become subject to evil. How else would we explain Jesus’ calming of a storm in the Gospel’s? If Jesus is God and yet He felt the need to calm a storm, it gives us a clear indication that the weather system is operating outside of God’s intention. And that as I see it is very telling.

    I think ultimately, we can be sure that God is far more devastated by the loss of life through Hurricane Katrina than we ever could be. As I see it, these sort of tragedies are the horrifying results of living in a fallen world. That doesn’t make it any less painful and certainly doesn’t satisfy all our questions. But maybe it helps us to not doubt the goodness of God.

  8. Peter Avatar

    Just to add something else to the mix… I also blogged about this but it was mostly just an agreement of John Piper’s thoughts which are available here:


  9. Anne Jackson Avatar

    Is God punishing us? I can’t say either way. I, for one, am not one to put words in his mouth! 🙂 However, as logic would have it, why is Katrina different from any disaster? Does God only punish using Catagory 5 hurricanes? Was God punishing my family when a tornado ripped through our house and my dad’s church next door when I was in Junior High?

    Huge disasters like this do a few things but they all seem to point back to God. Some people question him. Others realize their need for him. Those of us who are followers of Jesus are re-awakenend to show compassion and generosity. People mourn and wonder why “he took” their loved ones. People rejoice their loved ones are safe.

    Again, I don’t know if God was “punishing” us (and if so, I would wonder why he cares about a treaty) or not, but in our typically “safe” environment (ie, not one where hundreds of thousands of people die from cureable illnesses, poverty, starvation)…this is an event that will shake us up and point back to God no matter what you think about him.

  10. Joe Kennedy Avatar

    I made a post over on my blog. Or seven, but you’ll figure out which ones deal with it.


  11. Mark Weible Avatar

    How about this?


    The hurricanes remind us that the planet is cursed because humanity is under a curse: “Cursed is the ground because of you.” (Gen 3:17)

    Jesus came to restore humanity and eventually remove the curse: ” No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:3)

    Whether the curse represents itself as “natural” or “man-made” is beside the point. Only Jesus can remove the curse and restore humans. Do mystic warriers battle for the restoration of the planet or humans?

  12. Eric Devine Avatar

    God rains on the just and the unjust.

  13. j dukes Avatar

    Well…God’s creation is pretty cool and keeps itself in balance as He created it to be. Meterologists will tell you that hurricanes have something to do with maintaining proper atmospheric balance.

    On top of that, we as a people have chosen to live in the way of that balance-keeping. That’s unfortunate sometimes. I grew up in New Orleans…lived there since I was 2. We always feared this. It has been and obviously now will be talked about for years. There was even a foreshadowing article about this in National Geographic in 2004 called “Gone with the Water” …it can be found at

    Anyway…it’s been a fear for a long time and people have not tended to it.

    One final thing…I was just thinking yesterday – why was the tree that God told Adam and Eve not to eat from called “The Knowledge of Good and Evil?” Maybe God longed for us to never have to deal with the ramifications of that knowledge…beliefs, behavior, or nature.

    It’s a thought.

  14. Mike Andrews Avatar

    Seems to me that when God judged a place for its sinfulness… everything was destroyed, practically no one escaped, and it wasn’t a naturally occuring phenomenon. When I think about God punishing licentiousness, I’m thinking of the world and cities of Noah and Lot. Not New Orleans.

  15. Micah Avatar

    j dukes…
    I JUST finished talking to a friend (not half an hour ago) about that exact question regarding the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Certainly with that knowledge comes quite a large responsibility (for those seeking God’s original plan) to facilitate the good and impede the evil as much as possible. But what we were most interested in was how this speaks to a culture who “know” so much and yet DO so little. Even more so if that culture happens to be Christian! It seems like there’s a thread that runs through the bible that says that those who are “in the (real) know” have the greatest responsibility to this fallen world…in EVERYTHING that we do. That by our lives people will see Christ.
    AND we know that this world is NOT how God intended it to be…
    Along that thread, Climatologists will tell you that while a Hurricane’s normal function is maintaining proper atmospheric balance, there could be something more behind their apparently increased frequency of late…that being exponentially increasing emissions of fossil fuels.
    Look again at the (amazingly prophetic) National Geographic article you refer to…
    “The chances of such a storm hitting New Orleans in any given year are slight, but the danger is growing. Climatologists predict that powerful storms may occur more frequently this century, while rising sea level from global warming is putting low-lying coasts at greater risk. “It’s not if it will happen,” says University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland. “It’s when.”

    US policies are NOT helping matters.

    I’m not a pastor…just a concerned 26 year old. j-dukes, as a pastor I urge you to think about this and all issues facing the world today that Christians should be at the forefront of, and convey them to your flock. (You’re from the States, so they MAY get a little antsy if you mention anything negative about the current leadership’s environmental policies).

  16. j dukes Avatar

    micah…great word, encouragement, and suggestions. thanks.

  17. dominic Avatar

    its hurricane season period…more hurricanes hit the u.s in 1933……weather records only go back so far….there could have been many worse seasons than this that arent recorded….new orleans is below sea level…
    people comment on global warming…. there is so much mixed info,who knows what is really true, whos paying for the studies, who stands to benefit?
    I remember a few years ago all the talk about a hole in the ozone….this is mainly caused by methane gas….the # 1 contributor is cow flatulence….
    if its punishment…why stop at new orleans or just the U.S?….last time i checked sin was popular everywhere…

  18. Brian Russell Avatar

    It is interesting that in much of this thread we are left with principally two explanations for hurricanes:

    1) Divine Punishment and 2) Human Stupidity

    We need to think deeper about the implications of #1. If God would be punishing the U.S. or any country, do we really think that he would be targeting mainly the poor, the elderly, and the sick for judgment? Any person with means is typically long gone before a hurricane strkes and then will be fully reimbursed by insurance after it passes. This is hardly judgment unless we think that God “missed” his true target? Central Florida was hit pretty hard last year by three different storms. Know what the result was: a) low income persons and areas suffered the most b) persons such as myself in suburban areas now have brand new roof paid for by insurance and the values of our homes have increased by 50-60% in the last year because fewer new homes were built while repairs were made to existing ones. Again some judgment.

    Blaming hurricanes on fossil fuels seems to me to give too much credit to humans. Have we simply substituted a lack of belief in a powerful God for a belief in the almighty power of humanity to mess things up? Although I am a strong advocate of sensible environmental policies and conservation, I don’t think that the evidence clearly pins hurricanes on human use. Hurricanes seems to be cyclical.

    Perhaps we should be in amazement over the human ingenuity that allows for modern forecasting. Can you imagine the death toll in the Gulf following Katrina if there had been no radar or telecommunications available to warn persons to flee? This seems one positive way in which humans have shown dominion and “subdued” the earth as was humanity’s God-given vocation in Gen 1.

    Here is my own response to a natural disaster:
    1) Mourn for those who have died. Each person is created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-31; Psalm 8 ). This means that every individual is of infinite worth, value, and dignity. Death is always a tragedy. We continue to be desensitized to death in our culture. But each death represents the loss of someone’s parent, son, daughter, friend, or colleague. Moreover, each death means the loss of the individual’s unique gifts and talents. Let us mourn the loss of human potential that each death in a natural disaster represents.

    2) Give thanks to God for life and safety. Life is a gift. Gratitude is a key character trait and reminds us of the true source of life. It also helps us to be content. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:6-8 “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

    3) Serve others in God’s name. Christians are to be known by love. The aftermath of a disaster is an opportunity for believers to put faith into visible action. In our neighborhood last summer in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley, we organized work crews to help the elderly and anyone who sustained any significant damage. We purchased large amounts of ice and bottled water and drove into lower income areas of Orlando (which incidentally bore the brunt of the storm — eerily similar to New Orleans) and distributed them to grateful residents who were afraid to leave their property out of fear of looting. Loving service can often turn into spiritual conversations when others ask, “Why are you doing this?” A simple answer such as “we are followers of Jesus and we believe that he would be doing the same thing” can go a long way in restoring hope and pointing to its ultimate source.

    4) Share resources. Monetary gifts to Christian relief organization can relieve suffering in our local areas and around the world. Christians who have material resources need to share them with those who don’t. In 2 Corinthians 8:13-15, Paul writes, “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

    5) Reality Check. Life in this world does not offer us security. God desires for believers to serve as His ambassadors and representatives by reflecting His character in all of our dealings and actions. God wants the Church to serve as agents of blessing. It is easy to get sidetracked from this mission. When tragedies strike, these can serve as wake up calls for us to serve as the body of Christ in the world.

  19. dominic Avatar

    well said brian…

  20. Micah Avatar

    “Blaming hurricanes on fossil fuels seems to me to give too much credit to humans. Have we simply substituted a lack of belief in a powerful God for a belief in the almighty power of humanity to mess things up?”

    If by “we” you mean me, I certainly believe in a powerful God. I also believe in the almighty power of humanity to mess things up (IE. Genesis -> all the way through history)

  21. j dukes Avatar

    very well said, brian…in my earlier thought, which was just a thought, i was just typing out loud about God’s amazing creation and the choices of man. It’s so hard to say and we will never really know the “cause” of this. However, we can respond, as you said brian. And, as micah said, what we do here and now is more important…how we respond.

    Compassion, love, desire to help the hurting. Being known by love…serving so Christ-like you don’t even keep score or pat yourself on the back (Matt 25:31-46). I am thankful for the thousands and thousands of people who have responded.

    Thanks, Lord, for how you did hold and protect so many lives, how you did give wisdom and discernment to so many people, and how you now give the grace and strength to restore. That’s what you have always been about anyway…restoring lives, reclaiming the very people who claimed themselves over you…drawing near to us. Draw us near to You.

  22. Brent P Avatar

    It seems that the earth goes in warming and cooling cycles (though this is all theory). If humans CAN impact the weather, it is less than 5% though more like 1-2%.

    Is any natural disaster allowed or could be prevented by God…yes (unless you are a deist). Do we know WHY natural disasters hit? No, we are not God. We can see that after disasters people are more spiritually receptive. Let’s pray for a spirtual revival to spring out of these storms.

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