WASHINGTON (AFP) – US celebrities and media blasted right-wing radio host and television presenter Glenn Beck for calling the monster quake that rocked Japan last week a message from God.
Actress, author and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg said Beck should “check the mirror” if he thought Friday’s 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami were signs of God’s anger with mankind.
“If this is because we’re misbehaving and God is pissed (angry), I would check the mirror, Glenn,” Goldberg said on The View, a television talkshow she co-hosts with three other women.
The disaster has claimed nearly 3,400 lives and left more than 10,000 people missing in northeastern Japan.
In a rambling presentation on his radio show on Monday, Beck said God may have caused the catastrophe in Japan because he was angry with mankind, and warned people to change their ways.
“I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. Well — I’m not not saying that either,” Beck said.
“What God does is God’s business, I have no idea. But I’ll tell you this: whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus — there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it,'” Beck said.
He suggested that God could be appeased — and presumably convinced to not cause any more earthquakes — if people followed the biblical Ten Commandments.
Goldberg’s co-host on The View, Joy Behar, pointed out that earthquakes have rattled Earth since the planet’s creation, and asked which commandment God wanted people to follow.
“How about: ‘Thou shalt not advance your career on the back of the Japanese people right now?'” she said.
The San Francisco Chronicle called Beck’s comments “religious wackery,” and the Los Angeles Times said they were the latest in a string of “thoughtless” statements about the disaster in Japan by people in the media spotlight.
US comedian Gilbert Gottfried and hip-hop artist 50 Cent separately posted tasteless jokes about the quake on Twitter.
Both have since apologized, but Gottfried’s apology came too late — he was fired from an advertising voice-over job with an insurance company that does business in Japan.
Time Magazine writer Alex Altman wondered if Beck’s comments might be “the nudge” needed for Fox News television to let him go. Beck’s contract with Fox is up for renewal.
Beck’s comments recall those made by US evangelical preacher Pat Robertson after last year’s deadly earthquake in Haiti.
Robertson said the Haiti quake, which killed more than 220,000 people, was caused because Haitians “swore a pact to the devil” to help them shake off French colonial rule in the late 18th century.
In Japan, Tokyo’s outspoken conservative governor Shintaro Ishihara was forced to apologise Tuesday for describing Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami as “divine punishment.”
“It is necessary to wash away the greedy mind … by using tsunami,” Ishihara, 78, told reporters on Monday. “I think that it is divine punishment.” He retracted the remarks on Tuesday.