On November 20, President Obama spoke about his immigration policy changes. During the address, he referenced the Bible, saying specifically, “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.” (This injunction is found numerous times in the Bible, in Exodus 22:21, Deuteronomy 10:19, Exodus 23:9, and Leviticus 19:34.)
The hosts of Fox & Friends were particularly incensed — not at the policy in this case, so much as the President’s audacity to quote the Bible. The criticism ranged from the bizarre to the hilarious.
Steve Doocy noted that the verse in question mentioned “nothing about visas.” The verses (of course) never reference visas, but it seems a curious objection, since the fact that the Bible doesn’t actually address a topic has never stopped the Religious Right, including the hosts in question, from referring to Jesus and the Bible as the reason for their stance on a myriad of issues from the “War on Christmas” to marriage equality to abortion rights.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, citing Proverbs as part of a “scripture showdown,” chided the president’s use of executive action, as opposed to seeking an “abundance of counsel.”
But the best response came from the terminally loquacious Tucker Carlson. Referring derisively to the President’s quotation as the “Bible Scholar-in-Chief lecturing us,” he declared,
… for this guy specifically, the President, who has spent his career defending late term abortion, among other things, lecturing us on Christian faith? That — that’s too much! That is too much. We always hear “the Christian right, the Christian right.” This is the Christian left at work, and it’s repugnant.
Carlson’s mortification that the President could as easily play the Bible-thumping game as the Religious Right was hardly at an end. He later reiterated his idea that the Bible was simply not for the other side’s use, wondering:
But to quote Scripture? That is totally out of bound — that is just out of bounds.
When Hasselbeck reminded him that she had just quoted the Bible and wondered if that too was “out of bounds,” he walked his outrage back a bit. (At this point, Steve Doocy helpfully observed that Hasselbeck’s quote was “just different,” apparently on the solid ground that her cherry-picked verse benefited their point, but Obama’s didn’t — therefore her’s was appropriate, and Obama’s was not.) Carlson declared that it was “outrageous” to quote the verse in such a fashion as to suggest that a lack of immigration reform was oppressive.
And Hasselbeck, presumably having forgotten her own quote of earlier, in which she implied that the president was a “fool” for bypassing the counsel of Congress, declared it wrong to use the Bible to “guilt someone” into action.
Perhaps the most amusing part of the entire affair is, as Media Matters notes, two days earlier, Fox & Friends had been bemoaning President Obama’s lack of religiosity, as compared with past presidents like Ronald Reagan.
While it’s unfortunate that many expect our President and legislators to get their moral guidance from the Bible — or justify political actions with a text as flawed as that one — I confess a degree of amusement in watching the Religious Right squirm when the tactic is used against them.