A reader writes: "Is it true that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on a day that was to observe 'Southern Decadence Day' with 100,000 homosexuals gathering to commit unspeakable acts in public?"
In a word, no. Despite the fact that some fundamentalist Christians appear eager to characterize the disaster as "God's judgment" on the "wicked" city of New Orleans, and despite their attempt to link its timing to a gay celebration held there annually, the claims are patently absurd:
- The hurricane struck on Monday, August 29. This year's Southern Decadence, sometimes called the "Gay Mardi Gras," was scheduled to open today, Wednesday the 31st, and continue through Sunday. The storm obviously did not strike on "the day" of the celebration. Many, perhaps most, of the revelers had not even arrived yet.
- Southern Decadence is a 35-year-old tradition in New Orleans. Why did God choose to wait till 2005 to "punish" the city for it?
- Why is the French Quarter, the district where the event (now canceled) was to be held, one of the least devastated parts of the city so far?
- If this tragedy occurred because God is angry at New Orleans, what was the point of the awful devastation and loss of life wrought in Mississippi and Alabama?
Lastly, if I may vent a bit, I find it shameful, given the massive destruction, loss of innocent life, and ongoing hardships suffered by the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina, that any self-appointed spokesperson for God would have the nerve to suggest that these people in any sense deserved their fate. Natural disasters happen all the time, and Katrina was certainly not the first hurricane to strike the southern United States this season. By what logic, and by what right, does any human being arbitrarily declare that this natural disaster was a punishment meted out upon sinners by God? Discuss.