Divine Retribution? Japan Quake, Tsunami Resurface God Debate

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"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen,'" Falwell said on the "700 Club" program. Pat Robertson, the host, agreed.

Childress said despite the high-profile statements, most religious traditions acknowledge that no one can speak authoritatively about divine will in natural disasters.

"Even as religious communities struggle to find larger meanings in suffering, they usually concede, in the final analysis, that questions about why some suffer more or die earlier than others remain impenetrable mysteries," he said.

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