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Christians have grown sadly accustomed to famous but fringe preachers who presume to speak for God in drawing connections between human behavior and natural disasters. Pat Robertson notoriously opined that Hurricane Katrina was sent to punish New Orleans for its sinful behavior, for example. More recently, he insisted that the earthquake in Haiti was God’s way of punishing the nation (where voodoo is popular) for “making a pact with the devil.” 

Even radio talk-show king Rush Limbaugh, known more for his bombastic ultra-right politics than for his religious leanings, suggested recently that the Icelandic volcano that has disrupted air travel in Europe for more than a week is really God’s way of expressing displeasure with the U.S. Congress’ passage of the health care bill. Apparently, it doesn’t bother him that God would strike Iceland and devastate Europe’s airlines because of an American decision.

At last, however, we learn that the “Christian” fringe is not alone in making nutty pronouncements in God’s behalf: a senior Islamic prayer leader in Iran has declared that immodest women are the cause of earthquakes. Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader, was quoted in the Iranian media as saying “Many women do not dress modestly … (they) lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.”

Of course, it’s common knowledge that immorality causes earthquakes. Still, I don’t think that’s what Carole King had in mind when she sang “I feel the earth move under my feet …”

The country of Iran sits on enough seismically active fault lines to be quite prone to earthquakes, so temblors are not unexpected. The country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has predicted that a major quake is about to hit the capital city of Tehran, and warned many of its 12 million inhabitants to relocate.

The cleric has a solution for the problem, of course: “What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes,” Sedighi said.

In other words, keep the women under wraps lest they corrupt the men and cause earthquakes.

Such misogynistic statements are sadly all too common, but the irrational fear of feminine power that such positions profess is a poor disguise for an unspoken awareness that men will fall for anything.

You can’t blame it all on Eve.

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