(Vatican City, Rome) The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, America's most expensive natural disaster, has led to much finger pointing concerning who was to blame for the inadequate protection and disaster preparation. Now, add one more organization to the list of those accused of inaction.
A consortium of concerned organizations and individuals, formed by a New Orleans attorney and calling itself 'People Against Natural DisastERs' (PANDER), has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Vatican. PANDER claims that insufficient and inadequate prayers to God for protection is partly to blame for the increasing number of people being killed, injured, and displaced by 'acts of God'
"The insurance industry has long known of the threat to life and property from 'acts of God', as indicated by the wording of millions of insurance policies," explained Jesse Grisham, a New Orleans attorney who formed PANDER. "We are merely taking the next logical step...placing the blame where it belongs. If people of faith had been doing their job -- offering up a sufficient number of high-quality, heart-felt prayers to the 'big guy' to protect people from harm -- we argue that disasters such as Hurricane Katrina would have never happened."
While the slow response of New Orleans city, Louisiana state, and federal officials to the disaster aftermath has been consuming much of the national attention, even fixing those issues won't address the fundamental problem. Grisham explained, "Just as the inadequate response of emergency responders to a car wreck doesn't help prevent the wreck, we believe that hurricane prevention is the proactive goal that should be focused on, rather than merely reacting after the disaster has already occurred."
Grisham explained that the lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church is just the first step in litigation. "We realize that the protestant denominations also share responsibility in this tragedy. Our next legal targets will be the Southern Baptist Convention and United Methodist Church. We'll go right down the line of the major denominations in the United States."
Upon hearing of the impending legal action, a spokesman for the Seventh Day Adventist church said, "This is the first time I've ever thanked God that we are America's smallest protestant denomination."
Hurricane experts have been warning for decades that it was only a matter of time before a period of more frequent hurricane activity would imperil America's coastal areas, where a steady influx of people, businesses, and construction has led to massively increased vulnerability.
"Even though one might argue that we should have seen this disaster coming, and indeed, many experts have warned of this for many years, it still does not relieve the church's responsibility to protect the public through their petitions to God," claimed Grisham. "While some have claimed that New Orleans residents were given adequate advance warning of the approach of a major hurricane to prepare for it, heaven help us if we ever get to the point where people must be forced to take responsibility for their own decisions."
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