Rita, Katrina: Religious Fringe Sees Apocalypse Now

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Religious groups have pitched into help out with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and are now preparing for Hurricane Rita, a Category 5 storm on course to barrel into Texas this weekend.

So where some point to global warming as a root cause of this double-whammy of calamity, others see a divine plan at work. They believe the hurricanes are God’s punishment for various sins.

Katrina struck a few days before the annual gay “Southern Decadence” celebration in New Orleans— festivities that Repent America, a Philadelphia religious group, says fill “the French Quarters section of the city with drunken homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets and bars.”

Mardi Gras, with women exposing their breasts in exchange for trinkets, and the presence of abortion clinics had made New Orleans one of the “Murder Capitals of the World,” a pit of sin, stated Repend America director Michael Marcavage. “Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," Marcavage said. "From 'Girls Gone Wild' to 'Southern Decadence,' New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. He added, “From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge.”

Worldnetdaily.com, the conservative web site, reports from Jerusalem, “While most religious authorities seem to agree one cannot discern the intentions of God, there has been talk in some circles here and on the Internet that the storm that turned parts of the Gulf Coast into a disaster zone, prompting hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes and possibly causing upwards of 10,000 deaths, was thrust upon the U.S. for its support of the Gaza evacuation. ‘’

"Katrina is a consequence of the destruction of [Gaza's] Gush Katif [slate of Jewish communities] with America's urging and encouragement," Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Lewin, executive director of the Rabbinic Congress for Peace, told WND. "The U.S. should have discouraged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from implementing the Gaza evacuation rather than pushing for it and pressuring Israel into concessions."

WND also talked to Rabbi Joseph Garlitzky, head of the international Chabad Lubavitch movement's Tel Aviv synagogue. He told of a speech he had made from the pulpit recently: “We don't have prophets who can tell us exactly what are God's ways, but when we see something so enormous as Katrina, I would say [President] Bush and [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice need to make an accounting of their actions, because something was done wrong by America in a big way. And here there are many obvious connections between the storm and the Gaza evacuation, which came right on top of each other. No one has permission to take away one inch of the land of Israel from the Jewish people."

Beliefnet.com, a website that tracks religious news ran a poll asking,”Does God have a role in natural disasters like hurricanes?” Six percent answered, “Yes God is punishing us,” and another 12 percent checked “Yes,God is testing us.” Twenty-nine percent agreed that “disasters are sent by God,but we don’t know what the purpose was.” Only 8 percent said God doesn’t exist “and disasters like this are just forces of nature.”

Additional reporting: Isabel Huacuga

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