"It's all part of God's plan"

"It's all part of God's plan" is something I have heard religious people say to people who have just suffered some very negative life event.  Anything from a bad breakup, to a fire or other disaster, all the way to the death of a family member. Unlike the other goofy statements in this series, this is not reserved for apostates and atheists.  It gets sprayed around pretty indiscriminately.  It might play a role in causing some people, who were wavering anyway, to leave religion entirely.  So for that I suppose I should be grateful.  But I can't summon gratitude for this execrable utterance.  It's that combination of cruel, egotistical and judgemental that exemplifies for me all the very worst things about religious life.

The target of this statement is always someone who has just suffered a loss.  It could be a loss of any kind; it could be a loss greater than the speaker can imagine.  I have been told by a mother who lost a child that she'd had this tossed at her.  In what twisted mentality was someone thinking it would be comforting to say something to her that amounts to, "Hey, you know the big guy upstairs who runs the universe?  He thinks this is going great!"

Which brings me to the egotism of it.  The speaker is letting you know, in no uncertain terms, that they are privy to "God's plan".  They have seen that whole MS-Project file, and this amazingly crappy thing that has you suffering right now is right there on line 45,730,951,384.  Right between "Publicly pious athlete wins game, covers spread by two points, his agent wins a cool eighty grand" and "Tornado hits Bible-Belt town, kills 12, leaves one house out of 57 standing".  The owner of that one lucky house paints "Thank you, God!" on what's left of his roof, just to rub it in.  He never liked his neighbors much, anyway.

And perhaps that's the cruelest, nastiest thing about this bit of verbal slime.  The bad thing happened to you and not to me, and that is what sparks my association of it with God's Plan.  You don't hear people invoking Divine Intentionality on their own sufferings, just on that of their inferiors.  By which they mean, pretty much everyone else.

This is #11 (bonus!) of a series covering the top ten goofy things religious people say to atheists. Earlier:

10. "You are being fooled by the Devil." 9. "You're just going through a phase" 8. "The fool says in his heart, 'there is no God'." 7. "You just want to sin." 6. "God still loves you." 5. "You can't have morals without God." 4. "One day you will know the truth." 3. "You must not have been a true..." 2. "Eventually, God will reveal himself to you" 1. "I will pray for you"