Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman


Joe Biden’s Historic Ash Wednesday Smudge

posted by swaldman

biden ash wednesday.jpg
We’ve seen many historic Presidential “firsts” in this administration, what with the first African American President taking leadership.
Yesterday we had another: the site of the Vice President of the United States leading a White House meeting with a smudge of ash on his forehead. The only other Catholic to hold one of the highest offices was John F. Kennedy and, as far as I’ve been able to tell, was never photgraphed at a public event with the marks of Ash Wednesday.
This is worth spending a moment to ponder and celebrate. Opposition to, and persecution of, Catholics was common through much of our history. Indeed, while researching my book Founding Faith, one of the things that surprised me most was the ways that some anti-Catholic sentiment fueld the Revolutionary War.
And yet here we are with the Vice President not only being Catholic (as John Kennedy was) but appearing Catholic. Another milestone for religious freedom and pluralism.
One thing I suspected but could never prove about the politics of all this was that Biden would help pull more Catholics than John Kerry, a Catholic, did. Though theologically they’re both similarly in the doghouse with the Church (over abortion), Biden was a full-blown cultural Catholic, and Kerry wasn’t.
A new study of the religious patterns of the election doesn’t touch on a possible Biden role (which I suspect was minimal in the way vice presidential picks always are), but it does show something stunning: the ticket improved dramatically among traditional Catholics — the ones who go to mass most, pray most, believe in most Catholic doctrine. Obama-Biden improved on Kerry’s performance by a staggering 17 points according to a new survey by Prof. John Green of University of Akron.



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Tom

posted February 26, 2009 at 11:39 am


Has Rev. Barry Lynn and the ACLU been notified of this blatent disregard for seperation of Church and State? The nerve of a public official leading a political meating with sacred ash on his forehead. The agony!! The horror!! By golee, this nation is an eyelash from becoming a theocracy. What in the name of all that is holy are we to do when these religious fanatics are allowed to run wild like this?!?



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Don

posted February 26, 2009 at 12:31 pm


I think its good to see one of the nations leaders that maybe will practice what he preaches.



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James

posted February 26, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Good for Him!



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Suzanne

posted February 26, 2009 at 3:29 pm


I was very pleased to see Joe Biden with the ash mark on his forehead. What a wonderful reminder that we live in a country where we are able to publicly and freely celebrate our faith.



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pagansister

posted February 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm


Why should that be a problem? Apparently it wasn’t. Good.



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Henricus Rex

posted February 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm


Not to split hairs, but we (Episcopalians) use ashes also.



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Charles Cosimano

posted February 26, 2009 at 10:39 pm


Somebody forgot to tell him that he had dirt on his forehead.
Ok, I just couldn’t resist it.



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Bob

posted February 27, 2009 at 1:46 am


We Lutherans also get smudged on Ash Wednesday. I’ve run into this perception that Ash Wednesday and the imposition of ashes is strictly a Roman Catholic thing. Why is that I wonder?



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AmaniS

posted February 28, 2009 at 11:22 am


Yes, many other Christian do ashes. Where are the pics of Congress with there smudges?
This is to commenters.



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non-metaphysical stephen

posted February 28, 2009 at 11:48 am


How interesting that for all their bluster about religiosity, none of the conservative congressmen showed up publicly with ashes and that it was a Democrat who bore public witness to his faith.
Of course, maybe the conservatives’ churches don’t hold Ash Wednesday services until evening. Which makes me wonder, Do Protestants ever hold morning services on weekdays?



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Barbara

posted February 28, 2009 at 12:02 pm


Can I simply remind you that this is not the place nor the time (when is?) to lambast each other’s faith practices? Hooray for any and all who chose to observe Lent, ashes or not…comments about Catholics vs. Protestants vs. (insert denomination here) in regards to celebrating Christ’s presence and love are counterproductive. Behave.



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Your Name

posted March 1, 2009 at 7:51 am


I am so tired of the nit picking of everyone. Maybe the ashes on Bidens forehead got people to reflect upon themselves. This is not just a Catholic holiday. It is a Christian holiday. Other faiths have their holidays that remind them to reflect. Why can’t we just learn to love and appreciate one another. We as a people are acting like a flock of chickens that are just looking for another chicken to peck and beat on. Shame on us.



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Your Name

posted March 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm


Being catholic doesn’t make you a Chistian. Neither do the ashes.This practice as it is done today isn’t from the word of GOD.



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Bronte

posted March 2, 2009 at 3:48 pm


Weird. Perhaps in his next televisual appearance he can sacrifice a goat.



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pagansister

posted March 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm


Your Name:
So just what DOES make you a Christian, in your view? You’re an expert, I guess, since you said the ashes as it is done isn’t the from the word of GOD. You know this how?



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Happily secular but nonjudgmental

posted March 3, 2009 at 12:08 am


With a name like pagansister, I’m not surprised at your Christian-bashing remarks. Non-CHristians are the first to scream about Christians being judgmental and turn around and act judgmental themselves. Sad.



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pagansister

posted March 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm


Happy secular: 17 years raised a Christian…left…glad, thus the name I chose. However, just curious how you know that the ashes are used improperly because it isn’t from “the word of God.” Whose interpretation of that word, yours? No judgement here or bashing here, just asking a question, Happy.



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rene

posted March 4, 2009 at 11:43 pm


Biden is all show….no substance.



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White Knightin' It

posted February 17, 2010 at 11:41 am


@pagansister:
I love how those who claim they grew up Christian, then actively chose to forsake said religion, seems to have this vendetta against those strong enough to continue in the faith they gave up.
What’s wrong with how they practice their religion anyway, Pagan? Right or wrong, why should it matter to you? If you gave up the religion anyway, why should it bother you how Christians practice it. Besides, growing up Christian for 17 years makes you no more a subject-matter expert on the religion than any other poster on this thread.
Commence trolls in 3…2…1….



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Zany to the maXX

posted February 17, 2010 at 7:02 pm


With the sex scandals involving priests, the pope being a former nazi, I’m not sure Biden should be advertising he is a Catholic



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John M

posted February 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm


It’s nice to see some of our politicians practicing their faith. I don’t think anyone should feel they need to hide their religion. Sorry that a little bit of ash on the forehead seems to get everyone all riled up.
How about the ads on TV for “hook-up” services and other ads advocating casual sex. I for one am more concerned that my kids see this and think that this is an acceptable way to live life than the fact that the Vice President practices a religion.



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Your Name

posted February 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm


It’s nice to see some of our politicians practicing their faith. I don’t think anyone should feel they need to hide their religion. Sorry that a little bit of ash on the forehead seems to get everyone all riled up.
How about the ads on TV for “hook-up” services and other ads advocating casual sex. I for one am more concerned that my kids see this and think that this is an acceptable way to live life than the fact that the Vice President practices a religion.



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Joan Sheridan

posted February 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm


This is the second time as vice president that mr. Biden appeared with the Presidnt with ashes on his forehead
d8e2zy



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Your Name

posted February 22, 2010 at 10:53 am


A few observations. Freedom of religion is a constitutional right in America. Our society has become so secularized that it is very uncommon to see any public display of religious practice, especially from politians. Respect for religion is uncommon, contempt for and ignorance of religion is the norm, as seen in several comments here.
Biden has a constitutional right to wear ashes on Ash Wednesday. Unfortunately in Biden’s case, his display is nothing more than hypocrisy. His public record is one of blatant betrayal to Catholics and to his faith. True faith demands more than mere public display. Simply displaying ashes on one’s forehead on Ash Wednesday does not make one a Catholic. Biden is a hypocrit and a traitor to all Catholics.



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