Prooftexting is taking verses from the Bible or a religious text and using them to buttress one’s points or as “bullet” points to teach sinners a lesson. We prooftext often when answering a question about Christian beliefs or in calling another person to accounting for their sin. Dr. McGrath has a good summary of prooftexting’s follies here, including out-of-context shenanigans and its sheer uselessness given the diversity of voices in religious texts.
But prooftexting reached a new low in recent weeks. On the Rachel Maddow show (video starting at 3:25ish), she highlighted a Christian merchandising move that sells “Pray for Obama, Psalm 109:8” t-shirts and bumper stickers. Here’s my exact reaction process of seeing the t-shirt for the first time:
- Hey, they are finally praying for Obama instead of shouting at him…progress! I wonder what that Psalm is…[grabs bible]
- Psalm 109:8 “Let his days be few and another take his office.” OH, it’s SNARK! Ha! Good one. But there’s no election of leaders in the ancient world…so for a leader to leave office he would have to…oh, this can’t be good. I wonder what the context is…[reads next verse]
- Psalm 109:9 “Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.” OH, it’s CALLING for a leader’s DEATH. Yea for Christians calling for assassinations! UGH. [weeps]
So, there you have it. The email forward you thought was clever and witty is actually calling for the assassination of a President, or at least the quick death of one. Awesome. And another example of religion being used to promote hatred and violence.
Too bad the guys didn’t read the rest of Psalm 109:
Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame; and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.