Any time the citizens of a state, particularly a democracy, invoke their faith to pray for the demise of those they oppose politically, we should be concerned. When the call for such prayers becomes one of the most popular Google searches in the country, we should shake, especially those of us who believe in God, prayer and the Bible. Psalm 109, verse 8, went viral this morning in just that way.
Among the world’s top Google searches today are phrases that contain the words “Psalms 109 8”, and “Psalm 109 8 prayer for Obama”. For those of you who may not know that particular verse, it reads “May his days be few, may another take over his position.” And before anyone excuses this toxic use of scripture as nothing more than the wish that President Obama not be re-elected to a second term of office, the next verse in the psalm reads, “May his children be orphans and his wife a widow”.
In fact, the entire chapter is about the prayed for death of an evil person. Not to mention that anyone who knows enough Bible to have thought about this verse in particular, surely knows the entire chapter and appreciates its message. Pretty scary stuff.
All this is especially upsetting in light of the last weeks’ events at Fort Hood. Exactly how long is it going to take us to figure out the danger of linking faith claims and violent fantasies? How is it that the very same people who would have wanted to curtail access, and rightly so, to the hate-filled, violence-inducing, sermons to which Major Hasan listened, do not cry out against these prayers and those praying them?
The issue is not the scripture quoted or the name by which God is called by those doing the praying. The issue is invoking the God in whom any of us believe, to act as executioner of those with whom we disagree.
From Yigal Amir, who murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, to Major Hassan who murdered 13 and wounded 30 more, to whomever might step in on behalf of a “Christian nation” to make the words of the Psalm 109 a reality, each was inspired by prayers and scriptural readings not unlike those of the millions who made verse 8 a top Google search this morning. There is no place for such prayers in any of our faiths and until we all stand up and say so, at least a little blood will be on all of our hands.