It’s hard to decide whether Pat Robertson’s assertion that Africans believe in miracles because they don’t have Ivy League educations and are more ‘simple’ is incredibly offensive, or actually quite (unintentionally) accurate. One thing is for sure though, Robertson doesn’t have the faintest idea what he is saying or why, so it doesn’t really make much difference.
In a segment on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Roberston answered a question from a viewer asking why miracles happen “with great frequency in Africa, and not here in the USA?”.
Robertson, accepting the premise without question (as a good Christian should), joked that “People overseas didn’t go to Ivy League schools…We’re so sophisticated, we think we’ve got everything figured out. We know about evolution, we know about Darwin, we know about all these things that says God isn’t real.”
“We have been inundated with skepticism and secularism,” he went on. “And overseas, they’re simple, humble. You tell ‘em God loves ‘em and they say, ‘Okay, he loves me.’ You say God will do miracles and they say, ‘Okay, we believe him.’”
“And that’s what God’s looking for. That’s why they have miracles.”
Technically speaking, Robertson is kind of right here – there is a documented correlation between levels of education and religion; The more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe in miracles. And as we know, levels of education on the African continent are lower than pretty much anywhere else in the world.
However, Robertson clearly sees this as a positive. He may have been joking about Americans not believing in miracles because they went to Ivy League schools, but you can tell he meant it. It’s statements like this that make religious debate in America so infuriating. Robertson is advocating passivity and intellectual laziness, ascribing docility with religious virtue. Subconsciously, he probably believes non-white people around the world are more prone to these ‘Christian’ characteristics, and sees it as his white duty to educate them.
Robertson’s childish interpretation of religion gives atheists limitless ammunition, and keeps fueling the boring ‘religious war’ in America that presents an entirely false view of what should otherwise be an interesting debate.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.