For days, heavy rains have mired the annual Burning Man festival in thick mud in the remote desert of Black Rock City, Nevada, stranding tens of thousands of attendees who nonetheless struggled to keep the party going. At least one person has died, and organizers announced yesterday that the traditional closing ceremony — in which the titular effigy is set ablaze — would be postponed from Sunday to Monday.
But as burners conserved food and water, preparing to begin an exodus as conditions allowed, two Republicans in congress said their misery was a message from a vengeful deity.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, never one to pass up a chance to talk conspiracy theories, appeared on Alex Jones‘ InfoWars show Sunday night and said at one point, “I want to talk about Burning Man for a minute.” Jones interrupted to allege that festival-goers had staged a “mock sacrifice” before the weather turned dangerous. Greene replied, “God has a way of making sure everyone knows who God is.”
Despite chalking the disaster up to divine fury, however, Greene then proceeded with another angle, positing that burners “were probably being brainwashed that climate change is the cause of all of it, it’s the root of all evil, and it’s going to destroy the Earth. And they’re feeling the panic.” She further speculated that Burning Man attendees would now go home to evangelize on the importance of fighting the human-made climate crisis.
“I believe this is the left’s new lie that they’re going to put on the American people,” she said. “This is what they’re brainwashing people to believe.” Greene did not explain how the political left might have colluded with God in order to produce unexpected rainfall that benefited their agenda.
Also on Sunday night, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah took to his account on X (formerly known as Twitter), which he has previously used to threaten the nation of Japan, to imply that the floods were nothing less than “God’s judgment.” The post linked to a tabloid article describing some of the more offbeat activities at Burning Man, including “group orgasm sessions, daily whippings and naked oil wrestling.” Of such pursuits, the senator grumbled, “This isn’t healthy.” Shortly before that, Lee had quote-tweeted far-right Daily Wire host Michael Knowles‘ comment that “one should endeavor to avoid traveling to the desert for week-long bacchanalian orgies that culminate in the worship of giant burning idols.” Lee wondered how many may have “had a ‘road to Damascus’ moment” at this year’s Burning Man, making a biblical reference to the conversion of Paul the Apostle to Christianity.
On Saturday, Andrew Torba, founder of the far-right social platform Gab, took a break from pressuring X owner Elon Musk to develop more antisemitic policies and fell for a podcaster’s hoax about a virus outbreak at Burning Man. He took it as further evidence that the festival was being punished for devil worship. “Wow God unleashed a plague and a flood of rain over the satanic ritual ‘burning man’ in the desert that all of the elites attend?” he tweeted. “You don’t say.” No such plague has circulated among attendees.
Last but not least, Jeff Clark, a former assistant attorney general indicted in Georgia last month along with 18 others, including Donald Trump, for an alleged conspiracy to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, weighed in with his own moralizing take. Commenting Sunday on a post from former solicitor general Neal Katyal, who had hiked out through the mud to escape Burning Man, Clark called the festival a “neopagan ritual.”
“Pray that these folks come to the light & realize that the only path is through and to our Lord,” Clark wrote. “We are all fallen and need God, and to repent as a Nation.”
Of course, when it comes to repenting himself, Clark is less enthusiastic, having pleaded “not guilty” to his criminal charges in Georgia as he seeks to have the trial delayed. We’ll have to wait and see whether that court of law is any more merciful than the Almighty.