“Pray for Obama” vs. “Pray for Obama’s Death”?

Ken AshfordGodstuff, Obama OppositionLeave a Comment

Teddypsalmobama Apparently, "Psalm 109:8" appeared at the top of Google Trends last week, the internal Google device that sees what people are searching most.

And why?  Because of a new bumper sticker popping up all over the country.  The bumper stickers say "Pray for Obama", but the biblical reference is Psalm 109:8, so it's not as "nice as it sounds.

Psalm 109:8 reads "May his days be few; may another take his office."

Yup, it's an anti-Obama sticker.

Psalm 109 belongs to a special category of the psalms known as "imprecatory" prayers–it is a lament in the form of petition to destroy one's enemies.  It is the personal prayer of an individual, someone who has been dealt an injustice by another–and usually more powerful — person.

One could argue that those who sport the bumper sticker merely want him to be a one-term president.  However, the next passage opf the Psalms reads: ""May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow", suggesting a more — uh — violent end to Obama's presidency.

The Christian Science Monitor picks up the story:

The slogan comes at a time of heightened concern about antigovernment anger. Earlier this year, the president’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, said that Tea Parties could lead to something unhealthy. In September, authorities shut down a poll on Facebook asking if President Obama should be killed.

Still, that doesn’t push the Psalms citation into the realm of hate speech, says Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The use of Psalm 109:8 is ambiguous as to whether its users are calling for the President to serve “only one term, or less than one term,” he says.

Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights at the Anti-Defamation League agrees that the bumper sticker falls within acceptable political discourse.

For it to be considered hate speech, it “would advocate actual violence or cite scripture that was more clear in its message.”

But that doesn’t mean that it’s completely innocent.

“Are we concerned about real hostility towards [President Obama]? Absolutely,” says Ms. Lauter. “Is this a part of that movement? It may be, but in terms of this message itself, we would not criticize it.”

“The problem is you don’t know if people who are donning that message in a shirt or on a bumper sticker are fully aware of the quote or what follows. Obviously that message makes the ambiguity disappear. If they’re just referring to him being out of office, that’s one thing. If they’re referring to him being dead, that’s so offensive. It’s protected speech, but it’s clearly offensive.”

This week, both the websites of CafePress.com and Zazzle.com decided to stop selling merchandise that featured the slogan “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8.” However, Cafe Press then changed its mind and said it was reinstating the merchandise, which fell within “fair political commentary.”

As a free speecher myself, I tend to agree with Cafepress's final assessment.  It shouldn't be banned (although CafePress, not being a government entity, can ban anything it damn well pleases and not violate the First Amendment).  Still, it's unnecessarily ugly, and quite anti-Christian.  We ought to keep that in mind, especially at this time of year when a President was shot down by an assassin's bullet 46 years ago.

If one is so inclined to pray for Obama, perhaps a better prayer would be

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” – I Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)

Just a thought…