Title

An "Act of God": Race, Religion, and Policy in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

Department

History & Philosophy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

This essay addresses how characterization of Hurricane Katrina as an “act of God” exposed historical racial cleavages and policy challenges in post-Katrina America. Act-of-God rhetoric not only stemmed from religious history but was also largely informed by America's racial legacy. Usage of the term often absolved individuals and institutions from personal responsibility and economic liability, especially when the specter of race could be invoked. The term also revealed generational ideological differences within the Black community itself, posing significant questions about the discourse of race and religion in post–civil rights America.