Controversial evangelistic leaflet aimed at hurricane survivors
A group in the US which distributed leaflets to tsunami survivors telling them to prepare for death, has produced a controversial new tract aimed at survivors of hurricane Katrina.
Their tracts, which often describe in detail famous disasters and tragedies from around the world, suggest that people can be 'saved' if they confess their sins.
The American Tract Society has now released a new tract entitled; "When you lose it all...God still cares", aimed specifically at hurricane victims.
Their tract comes as dozens of church denominations offer practical help to victims of hurricane Katrina, and the importance of cooperation among different faith groups in the relief effort is stressed.
The new tract begins: 'Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast on the morning of August 29, 2005, leaving a path of destruction felt by millions. Towns were levelled and cities flooded, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Estimators are saying this could be the costliest, and deadliest, disaster to ever hit the United States.
"What do you do when everything you own is lost? Who can you cling to when those you love most are missing? Where can you turn when it seems like nobody cares?' the tract continues.
A message on their web site entitled; "When disaster strikes" also seeks to give guidance following the hurricane.
It lists "Killer tsunamis, devastating earthquakes, massive hurricanes and floods."
"Nature has dealt staggering blows to the earth and its people over the years. Many of them come without warning" their message continues.
They go on to describe in detail some of the worst disasters in history including other tsunamis, the Galveston hurricane - "the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history", the 1990 landslide in Iran that killed 50,000 people, and the earthquake that struck Tiajin, China, in 1976.
In text that will be considered by many particularly insensitive, they suggest; "Natural disasters are part of the way the Earth operates...but there is hope. Although we can't prevent disasters from happening (many times we can't even issue warnings in time) there are some things coming that we can prepare for now. For instance, we will all die someday. That's a natural event God has given us plenty of warning about."
Two bible verses are then quoted; "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27) and "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; (and) The wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23; 6:23)
Under a section entitled; "Are you ready for it?" the Society stated; "God loves you, and when you die He wants you to be with Him in heaven for all eternity. Although He knows we may not heed His warning, God offers us all the way to safety."
The 180-year-old American Tract Society first sent gospel tracts to accompany relief workers on the battlegrounds of the Civil War in the 1860s.
The society printed more than four million gospel tracts relating to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.