They’ll Say Anything

by Dan Quinn

The religious right is angry again (so what else is new?) with President Obama. This time religious-right pressure groups are attacking the president (and closet Muslim, right?) for not issuing a proclamation in honor of Easter. Here’s a Twitter post on Monday from David Barton, head of Texas-based WallBuilders:

@whitehouse fails to release #Easter Proclamation and no statement from @BarackObama

Barton’s Tweet links to a disingenuous (one wonders if there is any other kind with that outfit) Fox News piece noting the “failure” of the president to issue such a proclamation.

Then in an “Action Alert” email on Tuesday, the American Family Association (which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group) told its supporters:

The president has been devoted to issuing statements marking all major Muslim holidays, which are of no historical significance to the United States whatsoever. He has released statements in honor of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha, holidays which most Americans cannot pronounce and certainly do not celebrate. More glaringly, President Obama made no mention of Good Friday or Easter in his weekly address to the nation on Saturday.

AFA shrieked that the president’s failure to issue an Easter proclamation “was an intentional act of disrespect” toward Christian Americans.

Actually, what’s really, deeply disrespectful is how religious-right groups treat their conservative Christian supporters like they’re stupid and gullible. In fact, a blogger searched through presidential proclamations going back to 1980 and found no Easter proclamations from other presidents. Search for yourself here. Moreover, President Obama spoke at an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House last week about the importance of the day to himself and other Christians. Here’s just part of what he said:

I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason -– because as busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there’s something about the resurrection — something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective.

We all live in the hustle and bustle of our work. And everybody in this room has weighty responsibilities, from leading churches and denominations, to helping to administer important government programs, to shaping our culture in various ways. And I admit that my plate has been full as well. (Laughter.) The inbox keeps on accumulating. (Laughter.)

But then comes Holy Week. The triumph of Palm Sunday. The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross.

And we’re reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.

You can read all of President Obama’s statement here. Does he sound like someone trying to be intentionally disrespectful of Christians? Of course not. But extremists like Barton and other religious-righters won’t let the truth get in the way of their cynical and disgraceful attacks.

We’ve said it before: the religious right is a political movement, not a religious movement. Its leaders will do anything, say anything, to promote their divisive, radical agenda for our country. And they see no shame in lying and using faith as a political weapon to divide and manipulate Americans — even their own supporters.