Christian Meme: Praying for Obama's Death?

I could be wrong, but I'm not aware of any liberals who prayed for or advocated for the assassination of George W. Bush. Yes, there was harsh criticism and there were angry words - right or wrong, kind or cruel, that's a freedom to every political and social persuasion in this country.

A bizarre fringe movement within Evangelicalism has been gaining steam on the blogosphere, in chain e-mails, and - until recently - on do-it-yourself t-shirts through CafePress:

On November 16 Rabbi Brad Hirschfield wrote...

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... 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"...

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 invoking the God in whom any of us believe, to act as executioner of those with whom we disagree...

What is this double standard we have? This sort of virulent intolerance (juxtaposed with Christianity's own outrage over ironically-parallel Islamic fundamentalism) is exactly why sites like are so tragically poignant. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of the Christianity Meme, here's some content from their site:

About Christianity Meme
Christianity Meme is an organization of people who wish to expose Christianity for what it really is--a mind virus that controls human behavior to facilitate its own survival. As such, it is a living, but unconscious player in human affairs.

The site's homepage explains:

These pages espouse a point of view about religions in general, but Christianity in particular. Our thesis is as follows:

  • Christianity is a meme--a mind virus that lives in the minds of people and is spread through proselytization and other means.

  • Christianity is a meme about God, but it has no other connection to God.

  • The Christianity Meme has been shaped purely by natural selection--the law of survival of the fittest--as it has played out in human minds. It is a sophisticated product of cultural evolution.

  • Being a "true Christian" infected by the Christianity Meme will subject you to aid its survival through its adaptations that allow it to exert control over human behavior.

  • As a consequence, the more Christian you are the more you are prone to certain kinds of immoral behavior. The Christianity Meme is not bound by the moral principles it carries.
    We seek to expose Christianity for what it is and we advocate a conscious and rational approach to morality in its place.

* * *

Now, if I thought all of that was inherently true, I wouldn't still be a Christian. But the fact that I don't believe it's all true may simply mean the meme has completely brainwashed me to its purposes.

MORE IMPORTANTLY (to me) however, is that critiques of Christendom's abusive, militant, protectionist, often-paranoid and morally schitzophrenic behaviors are too accurate; too-rarely the exception.

I've asked this question before: is the world a better place because of Christianity? For God's sake, our "brothers and sisters" are likening a Christian president to Adolph Hitler, and praying to God for his death!

Someone tell me what the Gospel is.
Someone tell me: Are we better off?

Quick! Someone e-mail me something funny I can post!
I've had way too many negative posts recently...


Existential Punk said...

THIS IS SICK and really causes me to rethink ever stepping into another church again! i'm am really scared of organized religions more and more!

Peter said...

I know how you feel. Sorry to be discouraging.

You know, I've been thinking about the meme-concept, and I think one of the ways to ensure personal freedom from it is to NOT be invested in the support or propagation of the Christian religion. I think there must be a way to follow Jesus Christ - even spiritually/metaphysically (beyond his verbal teaching and physical example) - apart from Christianity.

That said, I don't feel personally called to such an extreme stance. For worse AND for better, I'm in the middle of this thing, and don't expect to ever fully separate. But I don't feel a drive to "grow" it the way Evangelicalism has structure itself to do. I don't feel the need to get more folks into church.

On the other hand, I still believe the Gospel is "good news," or at least generally has the potential to be good news - even the best news, which may sound a little elitist.

One of my friends (a pastor) recently said - in frustration with structured Christianity - "the only thing I believe in, anymore, is the Incarnation." Meaning: everything beyond "Jesus came to earth as incarnated-God" is up for grabs.

My fear over such readiness to toss out all the bath water of theology, ecclesiology and Orthodox tradition, is that Christian reformers have tried to do that again and again (and again). It's what led to Evangelicalism. And Pentecostalism. In fact Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, Mennonites... can anyone name a Protestant denomination that DIDN'T attempt to throw out all the mistakes of the CHURCH (read: the empire) and "get it right?" Sola Scriptura, right?

I can't say I trust anyone to invent a better STRUCTURE (a better CLEAN SLATE) than the ones that have already been tried, and are already in existence. History proves our inadequacy at creating transcendent economic models of religion.

So I'd prefer to either tinker away at making the existing church a little bit better - a little less angry - a little more gracious and loving - or to walk away from all of it and join the Peace Corps. Neither option is entirely satisfying to me, but neither is probably a bad way to try to follow Christ.

Peter said...

Check out to get a view of folks who aren't focused on spreading Christianity so much as they are focused on undermining the principalities and powers of oppressive political, social and economic structures.

anthony said...

Just because people read the Bible a lot doesn't mean they follow the Gospels. There is a lot in the Bible beside the Gospels, and the people who pray for the death of their supposed enemies are stuck in the Old Testament, especially OT apocalyptic. They haven't listened to the prophets. They may be part of Christendom, but they are missing out on Christianity, and I don't care how many times they think they have been born.

You asked if we are better off because of Christianity. I answer: we are better off. We pay attention to our steps on the path that Jesus gave us. We share what we have found with anyone who asks. We work one day at a time and leave the harvest to God. We reject the material values of wealth and political power. This is our asceticism, our physical and mental training. We find our rest in prayer. We find our comfort in the welfare of people around us. We leave grandeur to God. We spend our lengthening days striving to be united with God in the dark silence underlying speech.

If we find ourselves harried by "spiritual materialism", our own or other people's, we know we have to get back to our training. Back to our solitary attention to God and our community formed in the calm of worship.

We are not overwhelmed by memes. God gives us intention and purpose. Memes, like genes, have neither of these.

We have been put in this world of contradiction without knowing how or why. But our feet have been set on a path. Others wander off their path, accidentally or deliberately. How can this happen? How can they pursue unfulfillment? Again, we don't know how or why. We sometimes miss them or fear for them (but sometimes we don't actually worry too much about them, leaving their welfare to God.) We wait for God.

I could go on. But . . .

Moral: Get a grip! don't let the bastards wear you down!

I like your blog. You have a very authentic voice. (Authentic=highest praise.) Anthony

Peter said...

St. Anthony,
Good exhortation. I wish more of us adhered to the spiritual disciplines and even asceticism you remind us have historically been so integral to Christian praxis.

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