There are some days I am ready to disavow being any part of organized religion. While I wasn’t paying attention some right-wing Christians are being scary [again.] It’s a benign sounding message, “Pray For Obama: Psalm 109:8″ which is being sold on T-shirts and other merchandise on websites like CafePress and Zazzle.
During the presidential election, I recall listening to an All Things Considered interview where people from the African-American community were expressing their fear of Barack Obama being killed. I was sitting in the parking lot of my local grocery store remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. JFK and Bobby Kennedy and others who had been murdered for their more liberal stance and I felt and understood the fear being described.
The UK telegraph reports that since Obama took office the rate of threats against the president has increased 400 per cent for Obama compared to George W. Bush . . . Most of the threats, however, are kept under wraps because the Secret Service fears that revealing details of them would only increase the number of copycat attempts.
But it is not evangelical Christians like the media is saying, but the Religious Right that is branding Barack Obama as foreign, brown, Muslim, or “not a real American.”
The message on the material is Pray for Obama: Psalms 109:8, innocuous right? Wrong. I do not think we can dismiss this as distasteful humor. It is in no way funny. Especially since the next verse reads, “May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow.” The passage goes on in terrible ways. This Prayer for Obama does more than want him to leave office at the end of one term, it entreats God to destroy our president.
CafePress, says they will listen to public discourse. If it is being construed as threatening to the President, they will revisit the decision. If you think these stickers are threatening, and not funny, you can let CafePress know that here. Since the issue has raised such publicity Zazzle has since removed the merchandise.
Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League says for the message to be considered hate speech, it “would advocate actual violence or cite scripture that was more clear in its message.”
Earlier this week, former President Jimmy Carter was interviewed by Brian Williams on NBC. Here’s what he said (emphasis mine):
“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American. I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups, at that time particularly African-Americans. That racism, inclination, still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.”
And Rachel Maddow interviewed Frank Schaffer this week, to explain whether or not the citation of this Biblical text “means something less threatening to people hearing this in a Biblical context.”
No. Actually, it means something more threatening. I think that the situation that I find genuinely frightening right now is that you have a ramping up of Biblical language, language from the anti-abortion movement for instance, death panels and this sort of thing, and what it’s coalescing into is branding Obama as Hitler, as they have already called him.
His final and emphatic plea was this:
Obama supporters had better start speaking up in support of him and not sniping at him all of the time because he’s not moving towards change as fast as we’d like in every area. This is serious stuff. The chips are down, he has real enemies–some of them are violent–and as far as I’m concerned it’s time to support our president, stand with him and not only wish him the best, but pray for his safety in the face of these religious maniacs….There are not many steps left on this insane pattern.
It’s un-American. It’s unpatriotic. And it goes to show that the religious right, the Republican far right have coalesced into a group who truly want American revolution. If it turns out to be blood in the streets and death, so be it. It’s not funny stuff anymore. They cannot be dismissed as just crazies on the fringe. It only takes one.
I urge you to take this seriously. I urge decent, loving Christians to speak up about the need for supporting our president and for civility in our churches. This is no laughing matter.
All day, my mind kept returning to St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
I believe this is how a Christian is to behave : the exact opposite of what we are seeing my these conservative Right Winger.
St. Francis’ prayer is a brave request for strength to give of ourselves to meet the needs of others. This is a situation that requires peace, consolation, and hope.