Hatewatch

Radical Rabbi Blames Gay People for Earthquake

It was only a matter of time before somebody blamed yesterday's earthquake in Virginia on homosexuality. The man who has the distinction of being the first this time around is New York City-based Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who claimed yesterday in a YouTube video that because of homosexuality, "God brings earthquakes to the world."

Levin is not the first religious figure to include LGBT people in the blame game for catastrophic events more typically described as “acts of God.” In 2001, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed 9/11 on a variety of supposed evils, including feminists, pagans, abortion, the secularization of America, and "the gays and the lesbian who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle." More recently, according to Robertson, the devastating earthquake in Haiti was the result of Haitians themselves, who "made a pact with the devil" in the 18th century in order to defeat their French colonizers and were now paying the price. And this January, Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed "prophet" and apostolic Christian, declared that the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) military policy on gays and support for same-sex marriage were responsible for a rash of bird deaths in Arkansas.

As absurd as claims like this are, it's not the first time that Levin, in particular, has unleashed his vitriolic anti-gay rhetoric on the public. Last month, he claimed that the horrific murder of an 8-year-old Jewish boy in Brooklyn was the result of same-sex marriage in New York and the Orthodox Jewish community's refusal to do anything about it. Prior to that, he blamed the Haitian earthquake on the repeal of DADT. And before that, he blamed 9/11 on the fact that New York City had passed a domestic partnership law that included same-sex couples.

Levin is a spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, an organization founded in 1942 that claims over 800 members and is committed to traditional Orthodox Judaism, but involves itself in the public square. The group issued a statement during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, claiming that "she will function as a flame-throwing radical, hastening society's already steep decline into Sodom and Gomorrah."

The alliance also engages in virulent gay-bashing — no surprise, since they maintain Levin as a spokesman. At the group's 2010 annual dinner, Levin gave a speech in which he lauded the work of anti-gay groups Americans for the Truth about Homosexuality, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and MassResistance — each of them virulent enough to be listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — and said that gay people are "as evil as adulterers, pornographers, incest engagers, and the list goes on."

Levin recently has cozied up to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the more visible and active anti-gay groups working against same-sex marriage, offering comments in July at a NOM press conference in Albany (Levin’s remarks start at 26:40). Earlier this month, NOM issued a pledge for presidential candidates to sign that obligated them, among other things, to “appoint a presidential commission to investigative harassment of traditional marriage supporters. Of course, the reality is that there is very little harassment of such groups and individuals, but extremely high levels of criminal violence directed at the LGBT community.