TEHRAN, Iran — A prominent hard-line Iranian cleric elaborated on his claim that promiscuity and immodest dress cause earthquakes, saying Friday that God may be holding off on natural disasters in the West in order to let people sin more and doom themselves to hell.
The cleric, Kazem Sedighi, sparked widespread derision with his pronouncements in a prayer sermon last month that women who don't dress modesty spread adultery in society, in turn increasing earthquakes.
In Tehran's main weekly prayer sermon on Friday, he defended the claim but added some further explanation on why some places are hit more than others.
"Some ask why (more) earthquakes and storms don't occur in the Western world, which suffers from the slime of homosexuality, the slime of promiscuity and has plunged up to the neck" in immorality, he said.
"Who says they don't occur? Storms take place in the U.S. and other parts of the world. We don't say committing sin is the entire reason but it's one of the reasons," he said.
But, he said, "sometimes, God tests a nation. ... (God says) if believers sin, We slap them because We love them and give them calamity in order to stop their bad deeds."
"And those who have provoked God's wrath, He allows them (to commit sins) so that they go to the bottom of hell," Sedighi said.