Republican Senator David Perdue (R-GA) suggested this morning that Republicans pray for Obama’s death – specifically “let his days be few.” The quote is taken from Psalm 109:8, which, in context, is a psalm of vengeance against one’s enemies. Sen. Perdue continued, “And let another take his office.” It is unsurprising that Perdue wants another to take Obama’s presidential office, but surely the point could have been made without wishing death upon the president.
In case his meaning wasn’t clear enough, here is the rest of that particular psalm: “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. Let the creditor seize all that he has, and let strangers plunder his labor. Let there be none to extend mercy to him, nor let there be any to favor his fatherless children. Let his posterity be cut off, and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.” No matter the context, there is absolutely no reason to use this particular verse to refer to our sitting President.
Perdue’s use of scripture can either be serious or irreverent, and neither seems suited to the religious right’s cause. They insist that Christianity is a peaceful religion, and that Jesus calls us to embrace our enemies, so wishing death upon even the most bitter of political foes is downright un-Christian; they also insist on reverence for Christian practices and scriptures, which gives the irreverent uses of scripture a sheen of hypocrisy common to American religious conservatives, who are frustratingly selective when it comes it to what they do and don’t find acceptable.
Psalm 109 has been the rounds in conservative circles for years under the title “The Obama Prayer.” If liberals had done the equivalent in the early 2000s with a “Bush Prayer” calling for his death and curses upon him and his family, the religious right would have been up in arms. But as long as they are the ones misusing religion for spiteful political purposes, all is well in right wing America.