You have probably noticed by now that Sunday is a day on which I particularly enjoy taking the Religious Right to task for hypocrisy and ignorance of the Bible, and just plain un-Jesus-like mean-spiritedness. I think of it privately as my “Sunday sermon.” Today is one of those days. As always, it’s a target rich environment out there on the Religious Right, but I think you will appreciate what follows.
Do you remember just the other day, on November 19, when Fox & Friends appealed to Chuck Norris: “Chuck Norris’ point was, remember the time when American presidents weren’t afraid to talk about traditional values, as Ronald Reagan did back in 1981.″ Cue Reagan’s Christmas speech that year and Bethlehem and Wise Men and Christmas trees and the love of Jesus.
Just two days later, on November 21, President Obama is quoting the Bible. Speaking of immigration reform, Obama said,
“Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too. My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.”
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Were Elisabeth Hasselbeck and her cohosts happy? No. They were outraged. It’s “repugnant” proclaimed Tucker Carlson. “This is the Christian left at work, and its repugnant.”
That’s right, progressive Christians. You have no right to the Bible or to anything it says. Or more importantly, to anything the Religious Right imagines it says.
Watch courtesy of Media Matters for America:
Whoa, first you say he doesn’t express his Christian faith often enough, and when he does, you say it’s repugnant?
The president was “invoking scriptures,” we are told by Steve Doocy, “which I believe had to do with feeding the poor and the hungry and nothing about visas.”
Charles Krauthammer was brought on to say, “I find the president’s audacity here rather remarkable.” Krauthammer, far from the most astute or even honest observer, went on to claim that the president didn’t make this announcement earlier because it would have hurt Democratic chances in the midterms. Why did he do nothing, Krauthammer asked, back in 2009 and 2010 “when he had control of the White House, the House, and the Senate?”
Carlson went on to say, “For this guy specifically, the president who spent his career defending late-term abortion, among other things, lecturing us on Christian faith? That’s too much. That is too much.”
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the cohost assigned the role of saying things nobody else is stupid enough to say, was not sure how to respond and pulled out Proverbs on the issue of listening to counselors. Obama has those in the White House but Hasselbeck insisted the Bible must be talking about Congress! And she was pretty sure, kinda maybe, that scripturally, Obama’s quote was “not what the scholars behind the Bible would interpret as proper use, perhaps.”
Carlson just could not get over it, complaining, “But to quote scripture? That is totally out of – I mean that is out of bounds!”
According to this feckless trio, Obama was trying to use scripture to guilt people into doing something. Boy, we’ve never seen that before in the entire history of Christianity! Why, it’s…it’s unprecedented!
My entire life growing up Christian was one long, relentless tale of guilt. This is the one thing former Christians will tell you they are happy to be finally free of. And for good reason: if you go back and read the writings of the Church Fathers, Tertullian and others, you will see that guilt pervades their thinking. Guilt over pretty much every worldly thing you can imagine. Women should feel guilty for attracting the stares of men; men should be guilty for wanting to have sex with women. You name it, there is guilt over it. And shame.
Here is a president who isn’t finding guilt and shame in scripture, but hope, and compassion. The things we have seen far too seldom in the long history of Christianity with all its genocides and crusades and pogroms and inquisitions and witch burnings.
What is out of bounds is these people pretending to be Christians and followers of Jesus. Far from using the Bible to kill people like the Bush administration, Obama is using the Bible to help people. You know, like Jesus did.
These are people who like to throw around Jesus’ name like it’s a holy hand grenade, but they don’t know the first thing about acting like Jesus told people to act, and not to act. Like don’t be hypocrites.
First and foremost, there should have been some love on display, because Jesus said to love your enemies and they quite clearly consider Obama an enemy. In the second place, if they sincerely believed the president misquoted the Bible, they should have forgiven him, because Jesus said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
But Hasselbeck and her clown-car cohosts just love lobbing stones at everyone who passes by, displaying thuggish behavior all out of character for somebody who claims to follow Jesus. In the hands of Fox News, the sign of the cross has become nothing but a gang sign for racists.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.