First up from the God Machine this week is a curious reaction from the right to President Obama quoting Christian scripture in his national address on immigration policy this week.
If you missed it, referencing Exodus 23:9, told Americans, “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.”
In an interesting twist, conservatives who generally push for more mixing of religion and politics, and who complain that the president isn’t more overtly religious all the time, began complaining after Obama’s speech about the Biblical reference. Emily Arrowood noted yesterday:
The hosts of Fox & Friends were incensed that President Obama quoted scripture in a primetime address detailing his upcoming executive action on immigration, challenging him to a “scripture-showdown” and claiming it’s “repugnant” for Obama to “lecture us on Christian faith.” […]According to [co-host Elisabeth] Hasselbeck, Obama used the Bible to guilt people into supporting his executive action, and that’s “not what the scholars behind the Bible would interpret as proper use, perhaps.”
Because no one’s ever used Scripture to guilt someone into supporting a position, right?
It was, incidentally, the co-hosts of “Fox & Friends” who also complained just 48 hours earlier that the president doesn’t espouse Christian values often enough.
But they weren’t the only ones complaining. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) also wasn’t happy. “I always thought that Scripture was eternal and unchanging, but apparently, now that Obama is President, Scripture gets rewritten more often than Bill Cosby’s Wikipedia entry,” Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page.
Fox’s Bill O’Reilly also said of Obama, “He is one of the most secular presidents, perhaps the most secular president we have ever had, yet, he invokes scripture in the speech.”
For what it’s worth, Thomas Jefferson edited his Bible to remove references to Jesus’ divinity, so I don’t think Obama, who’s made countless public references to his Christian faith, is in the running for any Most Secular Presidents awards.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Muslims in the D.C. area held their first-ever worship services at the Washington National Cathedral last weekend. A woman named Christine Weick reportedly snuck into the invitation-only Islamic prayer service to interrupt and promote Christianity. She was escorted from the building.
* The school board in Orange County, Florida, allowed an evangelical Christian group to distribute Bibles to school children. Now Satanists are demanding equal treatment, leading the board members to reconsider their policy.
* This is one of those paragraphs you just don’t see often: “Stripper poles, a lingerie shop and a room called ‘The Dungeon’ weren’t enough to keep a church in Athens, Ga. from buying a new piece of real estate. The Athens Link Fellowship recently purchased both Chelsea’s Strip Club and The Fantasy World Lingerie Shop, looking to convert the previously salacious establishments into places for worship, television station WAGA reported Tuesday.”
* Come to think of it, the same goes for this one: “When Asia Lemmon, a former adult film star and mother of two, visited the Department of Motor Vehicles in Hurricane, Utah to renew her driver’s license recently, her experience roughly resembled that of most Americans: She stood in line, filled out forms, and signed tedious paperwork. When it came time to take a new picture for Lemmon’s license, however, things took an odd turn. As officials readied the camera, Lemmon abruptly placed a colander on top of her head. She encountered initial resistance from confused DMV workers, but after explaining that she was a ‘Pastafarian’ and presenting paperwork detailing how the headgear was a component of her religion, officials relented and snapped the photo.”
* The Church of England this week “formally adopted legislation which means its first female bishops could be ordained next year. The amendment was passed with a show of hands at the general synod.”
* And TV preacher Pat Robertson told his audience this week that he was able to help cure a young man’s neck injury through the divine power of a text message. Robertson seemed to be quite serious about this.