The real problem with the idea that God rewards the good (as I talked about last week) is the corollary to that thought: God un-rewards the not good. I don't want to say that God punishes the wicked, but that's certainly what people tend to think. It's rather similar to that whole "angels are beautiful; demons are grotesque" thing. The idea this instills is that it's okay to not help those less fortunate than us; after all, they've done something to deserve it.
It's an attitude more than it is anything else. I mean, it's not something people come right out and say, at least not most of the time, though there have been plenty of people who have. If God "liked" that person, that person would have more money, right? Because God blesses people who go to church and tithe and all of that. People who do those things and are poor must have some (secret) sin in their lives or God would be blessing them, too. You know, actually, I've heard people say that one out loud. I've heard pastors say that one out loud.
It goes right along with hurricane Katrina being a judgement against the depravity of New Orleans and other such things that have been said about horrible natural disasters.
My favorite, though, is that miscarriages are punishments from God. And, yes, I've heard pastors say that. In fact, one of the pastors I worked for believed that (and expressed that belief freely) which made it very awkward for him when my wife had a miscarriage a year or so before our younger son was born. I could feel the tension of the unasked question from him, "What secret sin are you hiding that God would punish you so?" It was palpable.
Of course, this is the same pastor that told me I needed to check in on one of our church members, a friend of mine, because he was a big tither, and we didn't want to lose his money. Yes, those are the words that he said to me. It's always about the money.
I was long gone from that church when his oldest (perfect (because his family was perfect, as he often pronounced from the pulpit)) daughter had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, but I often wondered how he took that and whether he accosted his daughter over some secret sin her life.
There are a couple of places you can look in the Bible to see that misfortune or a bad lot in life is not something visited upon people because God is punishing them or just doesn't like them.
The first is Job. God loved Job, and Job loved God. Along came Satan and told God that Job only loved Him because of all the stuff God had given him, so God let Satan take everything away. Job's wife and all of his friends came along and asked Job what horrible thing he'd done to piss off God. Of course, Job had done nothing wrong and had, in fact, done everything right, but, still, they all came in with the assumption that all the bad stuff was Job's fault.
The other is the story of the blind man that Jesus and his disciples passed on the road one day. The disciples asked Jesus whose sin, the man's or one of his parent's, was responsible for the man's blindness. Jesus' response was that no sin was responsible.
No sin was responsible. No one did anything bad. The blind man wasn't a bad person just like Job wasn't a bad person, just like there aren't "bad" people and "good" people. There are just people. Bad things and hard times are not judgements from God. They are just things that are.
If you go to a church that fosters the belief that God punishes people by sending any kind of ruin upon them, you need to get out of that church.