Last week, rain fell for two days over Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It fell hard and fast without relent, pouring down up to three inches of rain a minute. By the time the storms cleared early Saturday morning, they’d gotten two feet of rain in two days. All that rainwater has to go somewhere, so as it has flowed toward the rivers and tributaries that characterize the landscape, those bodies of water have risen. The flooding is still happening along clogged waterways.
This storm was not usual Louisiana weather, or even a normal hurricane. Rainfall that voluminous has only a .1-1% chance of happening there. This was not something the people and politicians of Louisiana should have expected and dropped the ball on. It was, to use the common phrase, an “act of God”. Over 80% of Baton Rouge homes were flooded.
One of those flooded homes belongs to professional bigot Tony Perkins. He’s president of the Family Research Council, a hate group according to Southern Poverty Law Center. His job is to spread hatred of conservative political targets, from a Christian perspective. Perkins has said horrible things about LGBT people and women who have had abortions, including claiming that natural disasters are messages from God sent for their (our) sins.
Since he has lost his home, many news outlets have reported on this as if it were ironic. They suggest perhaps God is trying to punish or communicate with him about his sin of bigotry. They proclaim he will somehow be a hypocrite if he does not take their worldly, secular interpretation. They don’t understand southern evangelicals at all.
Perkins, like many evangelical Christians, believes in a rather Old Testament god, a god who smites and communicates through weather. He thinks this wrathful god sends storms against entire cities to address the wickedness of individual sinners; like the storm sent after the ship carrying Jonah as he ran from his holy work in Ninevah. Even if you think a god speaking through natural disasters is silly, recognize the idea has Biblical support.
This is the mindset Perkins will have:that this storm is a message of disapproval from God. He will probably not think he’s the one God is chastising. Instead he’s likely to believe that he is a victim of the sins of gay marriage and abortion. He is an innocent swept up in God’s wrath at our sins. This is all our fault. It will only strengthen his resolve and reignite his passion.
Because bigots like bigotry, Perkins is unlikely to suffer overmuch. He has insurance (though possibly not flood insurance as the area isn’t a usual flood zone). He also has access to tens of thousands of conservatives willing to put their money where their hate is. He’s not going to be living in a shelter or out on the streets. Thousands of Louisiana families will.
This is a terrible natural disaster that will in no way lead to a reduction in homophobia. Now is not the time to take joy in loss. Now is the time to search for individual fundraisers helping people in Louisiana meet their immediate and long term needs. Donate if you can. Share either way. Find someone whose story resonates with you. If you really care about LGBT Louisianans, give them money. Help make things better.