Prayer is powerful and we often pray for and request divine intervention for a number of things. However, rarely do we ask for death to impact individual families or allow our hatred to be camouflaged with religion, unless we are affiliated with groups that historically have done so like the KKK.
The Lawrence Journal-World was sent an email that Mike O’Neal, speaker of Kansas’ House of Representatives forwarded to House Republicans that referred to President Obama and a Bible verse that says “Let his days be few” and calls for his children to be without a father and his wife to be widowed.
Psalm 109, which is a prayer for the death of a leader, became a popular GOP meme after Obama’s election. The “tongue-in-cheek” prayer for the president was seen on bumper stickers. The relevant part of the Psalm reads:
Let his days be few; and let another take his office
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.
O’Neal forwarded the prayer with his own message: “At last — I can honestly voice a biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
O’Neal’s office refuses to apologize for the email, suggesting that the message was only referring to Obama’s days in office. O’Neal asserts that verse 8 of Psalm 109, as applied to President Obama, does not suggest a wish for his death. But the first five words of verse 8 are: “Let his days be few.” And verse 9 says: “Let his children are fatherless, and his wife a widow.” O’Neal suggests that Scripture should not be “taken out of context.” Well, the context of Psalm 109 is clearly a wish for someone’s death.
Last week, O’Neal forwarded an email to fellow lawmakers that called Mrs. Obama “Mrs. YoMama” and compared her to the Grinch. O’Neal even put up an initial defense of his behavior prior to being forced to apologize for his actions. According to the Lawrence Journal World, O’Neal forwarded from his personal computer the email in which he wrote, “I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Mrs. YoMama a wonderful, long Hawaii Christmas vacation — at our expense, of course.”
The first family spent the holidays in Hawaii before returning recently to Washington, D.C.
The email has pictures comparing Mrs. Obama to the Grinch because of their similarly wind-blown hair. “Sorry, just had to forward this latest holiday message,” O’Neal wrote. “I’ve had worse hair days, but this is pretty funny.”
Speaker O’Neal via a spokeswoman confirmed the email message, saying it was sent from his personal email to a “select few” members of the House.
In his apology, O’Neal said, “To those I have offended, I am sorry. That was not at all my intent.” Initially, O’Neal’s office sent out a statement defending the e-mail.
The O’Neal comment comes just weeks after U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin apologized to the first lady for commenting on the size of her backside. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Sensenbrenner referred to Mrs. Obama’s “big butt” while talking to church members at a Christmas bazaar.
Unfortunately, the speaker does not see that politicians of his status have a higher ethical standard than the general public, or worse, do not see African Americans as being on the same level with white politicians or people. In fact, it makes him seem akin to the good ol’ boys we have seen historically across the South and America as a whole.
–torrance stephens, ph.d.