Oh, For God’s Sake

This post has been corrected and comments have been closed as numerous commenters violated the terms they agreed to abide by.

In hindsight, it was predictable that Fox News would bring the stupid on President Obama’s appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday. Yet, as Media Matters points out, this is a doozy, even for them:

A page on Fox Nation…claims Obama “misquoted a familiar Bible verse” during his address yesterday:

    President Obama misquoted a familiar Bible verse during a faith-based address at the National Prayer Breakfast.

    “Those who wait on the Lord will soar on wings like eagles, and they will run and not be weary, and they will walk and not faint,” the president said during a speech to several thousand people at the breakfast.

    But the actual passage, from Isaiah 40:31, states: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Somewhat ironically, while Fox Nation appears to be positioning themselves as the arbiters of authentic Christianity, they seem unfamiliar with the fact that there is more than one version of the Bible.

Obama was quoting from the New International Version while Fox Nation was pointing to the King James Version to “debunk” him.

This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

Heh, indeedy, as they say, if for no other reason than that the NIV is one of the most popular scriptural translations for Evangelicals. That’s worth a double facepalm in my book.

As Media Matters goes on to point out, factual accuracy has little to do with the story. Its purpose, more than likely, is to create the false impression that Obama muffed a scripture quote, allowing for more “misinformation” and “questions” about his faith to spread.

This is why I think the president needs to start using the “L” word. Call it for what it is: Fox News is lying about his faith to score political points. Make them prove their assertions, correct them, or admit that they’re lying sacks of crap. Dancing around the situation doesn’t do him—or anyone—any favors.

While we’re on the subject, allow me to call your attention to this comment left on yesterday’s story:

I doubt the public would accept a Wiccan, JW, Pentecostal or Mormon pres either. They might also say that a Unitarian or UCC candidate was too flaky. Might make Kumbaya the national anthem.

Take the analysis for what it’s worth. I simply mean to point out the rich irony of a Tea Party nation potentially rejecting Unitarians, members of the United Church of Christ, or (though the comment doesn’t mention them) non-believers, given the long tradition of presidents falling into one of those categories. You can’t venerate the “traditional values” of the founding fathers without recognizing that their values were based in large part on certain religious beliefs that are no longer in fashion in conservative circles.

On the other hand, if you believe Pres. Obama misquoted the Bible because he used the NIV instead of the KJV, you’ll believe just about anything.

Correction: As several people point out in the comments, Media Matters made a mistake of their own. The President’s words don’t match exactly the NIV, as MMFA reported. He seems to have left out the phrase “they will renew their strength.”

This is somewhat embarrassing.

“Gotcha,” however, is neither a functional equivalent of a smear campaign, nor a moral one. Media Matters mistakenly attributed the scripture quote to the NIV; I saw nothing obviously wrong with that, and failed to notice the omission. Shame on me, but I’m not the one charging a sitting president with misquoting the Bible. Nor does the mistake in versions alter the basic point: Fox News said the president “botched” scripture. He did no such thing. He left out a phrase which changes the meaning of the scripture not at all. However much egg this leaves on my face, it changes nothing about the subject. I apologize for my error, as I’m sure Media Matters will once I inform them of it. I wonder if Fox News will follow suit, or will they allow a false impression about the president to stand?

The standard for professional competence in Biblical scholarship is not memorizing random passages instead of, say, the ability to analyze the literary, textual and theological significance of a particular passage. While the NIV rests in my congregation’s pews, Isaiah 40:31 comes up precisely once in the three-year lectionary cycle. Which means, other than being the source of “On Eagle’s Wings,” it’s not exactly a familiar passage. Perhaps Fox News will use this as evidence that I am not in fact a Christian minister, but a secret godless Muslim. I tremble at the thought.