Theologians have spent centuries laboring over the question of divine intent and the problem of pain. This week, we were fortunate enough to receive two new contributions to the discourse.
First up, we have Representative Scott Perry, a Republican from Pennsylvania, grappling with the contradictions of divine omnipotence and a fallen world. Asked at a town hall about proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the funding of clean and air water projects in his state, Perry suggested that God was, perhaps, the original polluter.
Turning his attention to an effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Perry said it had "left some violators out."
Namely, God himself. "Some violators, if you are spiritual and believe God, one of the violators was God because the forests were providing a certain amount of nitrates and phosphates to the Chesapeake Bay," he explained.
His constituents responded, correctly and incredulously, like this: "It's God that's polluting? God pollutes."
The Rev. Mitch Hescox, CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, had a different interpretation of God's will.
"In Pennsylvania we haven't had funding from the state EPA or the federal government to have adequate amounts of inspectors to do the job in policing our environment," Hescox said in a statement obtained by PennLive. "We urge the [congressman] to stand up to President Trump's initial budget plan and increase the number of enforcement officers so we can clean up the Chesapeake and the more than 60 percent of waterways across the country that are fouled by pollutants."
Next up, we have state Representative George Faught, a Republican from Oklahoma, contemplating God's will when it comes to sexual violence. During a floor debate on an anti-abortion bill, Faught was asked if rape and incest were the will of God.
Try to guess what he said.
This is what he said: “Well, you know, if you read the Bible, there are a couple circumstances where that happened, and the Lord uses all circumstances."
“Is incest the will of God?” he was asked again.
“Same answer,” Faught replied.
He later clarified to a local news affiliate: "Life, no matter how it is conceived, is valuable and something to be protected. Let me be clear, God never approves of rape or incest. However, even in the worst circumstances, God can bring beauty from ashes."
Meanwhile, in news not directly about God's divine will but related nonetheless, Paul Ryan, a devout Catholic who has spent his entire legislative career on the shit list of this group of nuns, is working feverishly to dismantle Medicaid and strip 24 million people of health insurance—a move that will hit the poorest and the sickest the hardest.