I don’t know where to start. 

That’s not a very good thing for a writer to say.  Even if we don’t know where to start, we usually write until we know where to begin.

But finding where to begin takes time.  It takes lots of typing and retyping.  Rearranging.  Starting over.  And finding our way again.  I don’t have time to do that.  There’s a book to write.  There’s freelance work that’s due.   And I’m constantly distracted. 

Last night and today I was distracted by Facebook.  Specifically, I was distracted by a “prayer” that many of my Christian friends were posting on Facebook and other Christian friends were clicking that they “liked.” 

“DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE [sic]. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH [sic] FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN”

For nearly 24 hours I’ve been raging against this “joke” because, as a Christian, I felt I had to.  As a Christian, I’m shamed by such hate.  My Jesus isn’t about hate.  My Jesus – as you’ll read in my sex book – is about love, grace, and mercy. 

I have no issue with people expressing their disagreement with our President.  I don’t even have a problem with people expressing their dislike for him.  What I do have a problem with is Christians praying for a person’s death.  As a Christian, I don’t feel like we have the right to decide when another dies.  That’s up to God.

I’ve heard people compare this “joke” to the cruelties spoken about former President George W. Bush.  They say that those on the left – specifically Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks – wished President Bush dead, so those on the right are justified in doing the same regarding President Barack Obama. 

If I recall correctly, Ms. Maines didn’t wish any sort of thing on our President.  She simply said she was ashamed he was from Texas. 

“Just so you know, we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” — Natalie Maines, 2003

I have no objection to people saying they’re ashamed President Obama is from Hawaii … or that he’s an embarrassment … or, even as I heard tonight, that he’s an idiot.*  Again, my problem is Christians praying for his death.

In fact, that seems to go against the essence of Christianity, especially since there are many Christians who believe our President is a Muslim.  That very belief – inaccurate as it is – is all the more reason they should be praying for our President, rather than praying for his death.  In other words, they should be praying for his salvation rather than praying that he dies before he’s saved.  Isn’t that what evangelical Christianity is all about?

But there’s another reason I’m upset that Christians are “joking” and praying for our President’s death, and that reason is personal.  He has two little girls.  I cannot imagine what it’d be like for those children to hear that others – specifically Christians – are praying for their father’s death.  How cruel is that?  And, oh, how it would turn them away from Christianity.  At least it would me. 

Still, that doesn’t explain why it’s personal.  My father died when I was five years old leaving my mother to rear two girls by herself.  I look at those children and I see my sister and me.  I think about what it’s like to grow up with a dead daddy, and I don’t want that for them.

This is what I mean about not knowing where to start and not having time to find out where to begin.  This blog is nothing like what I wanted or intended.  It’s not even covering the topics I thought I’d discuss.  But it’s what has come out of my fingertips, so I guess it’s where I’ll end.

By the way, for those who have forgotten, Natalie Maines later apologized to President Bush.  I wonder if there are any Christians out there who will apologize to President Obama.

“As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect.” — Natalie Maines, 2003

* Okay, truth — I’d prefer he not be called an idiot, but calling him an idiot is an improvement over praying for his death.

  1. Tamara Crail-Walters Reply
    I think your blog is great! Besides pointing out the hypocrisy of Christians praying for someone to die (or even joking about it), there is the factor that what separates our country's successful democratic traditions from many others. We have always given unconditional acceptance to election day results. To not do that turns us into nothing more than a 'banana republic' subject to the whims of the biggest bully in the system. I am sure that if the people who are suggesting that Obama should die, even jokingly, would think about it, they would agree (I hope).
    • Suzy Reply
      Thanks, Tamara. Send folks my way! :)
  2. Brittney Shelton Reply
    Thank you so much for this. God bless you!
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Brittney.
  3. maly Reply
    thank you for this elegant and compassionate analysis.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Maly.
  4. Darren Reply
    Are you aware that this is a parody of a prayer made by a teachers union leader in New Jersey, against Republican governor Christie? If you replace "My favorite President is Barack Obama" with "My favorite Governor is Chris Christie", you have the exact text from two weeks ago. I don't find the sentiment acceptable, and I suspect the founder of the FB page didn't mean it as a complete parody. But it is informative that far more direct and vitriolic speech gets leveled against people of a different political viewpoint without significant comment, while much more mild (but inflammatory) comments like this one result in apoplectic reactions. Natalie Maines comment was far from the most significant attack hurled at President Bush- and I didn't find it particularly offensive myself- she and her bandmates probably were ashamed the President was from Texas. As a (former) Texan, I'm mildly disappointed that a band I consider of mediocre talent and addled mental capacity came to represent Texans to many in the US. Whooptie Do. In any case, your comparison is not apt, and you probably would benefit from being aware of the history of the comment. It may be unintentional parody, but it is in fact parody, and is one of those rare examples that clearly demonstrates the dominant biases out there today.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you for your comment, Darren. No, I didn't know that about the Governor. I find it an offensive prayer whether it's aimed at a Democrat, Republican, far left winger or Tea Partier. In fact, I've started many blog posts about how I'm sick of the name calling on both sides of the aisles. In my opinion the hate is destroying our nation. As the cliche goes, united we stand, divided we fall. And I think we're falling. Maybe it's time I have the guts to post one of those blogs. But I'd also like to point out that I don't find this so-called parody or joke, again, whether it's aimed at a Democrat or Republican, to be acceptable, particularly coming from my fellow Christians. I think such behavior -- again, whether it's aimed at Democrats or Republicans -- to be a poor reflection of the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ. Obviously, though, there are Christians who disagree with me, and that's their prerogative. Again, thank you for reading and commenting.
  5. Chris Reply
    So, Darren, just because 'the left' does things like that as well, that somehow makes it okay? I consider myself liberal, and I don't think it's alright for any jokes of this sort to go on. Someone on the Facebook group that linked to this article also said that the rest of us were wrong, because no one commented negatively about the movie Death of a President, which a few of us have never even heard of.
  6. Mary Reply
    Suzy, you got it right. Hate, on either side of the aisle, is not what we need. I scrolled through the pictures on that site enough to see that whoever put it together has no respect for anyone. But no matter one's beliefs...someone who really follow's Christ's teachings would never preach, promote, or give into fear and hate.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Mary.
  7. DW Reply
    Wow! Ever heard of a joke? You are way too serious and a little out of touch with reality. No one wants Obama to die, it's a joke. If God wanted Obama to die then who are you to say how he would do it anyways? Maybe he would use a joke to start the ball rolling. DW
    • Suzy Reply
      Maybe I am too, serious, DW. But maybe it's because I'm too in touch with reality. Maybe it's because I write true crime, i.e. about real life murder. Maybe it's because I've sat in too many murder trials. Maybe it's because I've stared at too many crime scene photos and read too many autopsy reports. Maybe it's because I've interviewed too many people who've lost the ones they love. Maybe it's because I've seen and dealt with the reality of stupid threats becoming reality. Maybe it's because I look beyond jokes to see their repercussions on others ... like our President's two children. Maybe it's because I've lived the reality of being a child growing up with a "dead daddy." Maybe it's because I've been a child standing over her father's dead body. Maybe ... there are multiple ways of looking at things.
  8. Darren Reply
    Chris, Again, I think the entire comment is out of line, and the fact that some on facebooks would become fans of it without recognizing the parody involved is, well sad. I haven't seen "Death of a President", so I can only say that, sure it seems unreasonable as well. Is it more or less? I don't know. To be crystal clear- this isn't something I would say, or defend- and I'm not. But, the fact that it is in some degree a parody- and a troll to demonstrate hypocrisy (a noble pursuit in itself, IMHO) does in fact significantly lessen the impact of the statement compared to if it were in isolation. I hope you can understand the logic behind that. The "badness" of the originator of the prayer against Governor Christie is significantly greater than that of the person who modified it to be against the President. One was a poor joke with clear- well evil- intent. The other may have been a poor retort that was in bad taste- or may have been with evil intent. You and I can't say, because the poster doesn't give context. Those who are joining the group out of malice, well they have some explaining to do if they want to reconcile that with most of the worlds faiths. I will point out that the fact that you were not aware of this gem being directed at Christie, along with being unaware of the movie "Death of a President" does suggest that either you may be "dining" on an incomplete diet of news providers or, more probably, that there is a widespread filter on what information is considered news-worthy. That incomplete information leads reasonable, thoughtful people to make what they believe are informed judgments about other people- when in fact they have a skewed set of data to work from.
  9. Randy Wood Reply
    Hey Suzy! I appreciate your blog so much. Its a shame that people who wear the Christian banner to make snide humor about life/death. Both are sacred. Keep speaking up!
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Randy.
  10. Laura J Reply
    Suzy, Fantastic blog. You echo my sentiments in that it is hypocritical to call yourself a Christian then wish death on to someone.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Laura.
  11. Michael Zeleny Reply
    On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. -- where are you now that we need you? --Charlie Brooker, The Guardian, Sunday 24 October 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/oct/24/tvandradio.theguide
    • Suzy Reply
      Michael, Mr. Brooker made a horrible and offensive statement in the United Kingdom's The Guardian. Indeed, it is equally -- if not more -- offensive than the prayer for Obama's death. According to the link you posted, many condemned his statement, as they should have, and Mr. Brooker apologized for his statement, as he should have. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
  12. David Metz Reply
    For crying out loud! You identified it as a joke. It is a joke. It is funny. It's not a prayer for anyone's death. It is a joke. You have to assume the intent of joke. Please get a life and move on.
    • Suzy Reply
      David, as a true crime writer, too often I've seen "jokes" become reality. In my nonfiction book Wasted, Kim LeBlanc supposedly "joked" that she wanted Regina Hartwell dead. Kim's boyfriend murdered Regina. In my nonfiction book Wages of Sin, Stephanie Martin supposedly "joked" that she wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. She and her boyfriend killed his roommate. In my nonfiction book The Fortune Hunter, Celeste Beard supposedly joked that she wanted her husband dead. Her friend -- the manager of the largest independent bookstore in Texas -- killed Celeste's husband for her. Things we brush off as "jokes" often become reality -- at least in my world of true crime. That's why I don't dismiss this as a funny joke. I find it a very unfunny, possibly violence-inducing "joke." By the way, though Stephanie Martin and Celeste Beard didn't pull the trigger, they both are in prison for the murders. And though Kim LeBlanc didn't thrust the knife into Regina Hartwell's neck, she admits she'd be in prison for murder if the police hadn't violated her right to an attorney.
  13. stella Reply
    I typically stay out of political discussions, choosing to keep my views on such matters to myself. There are many differing points of view on the state of the Nation. I long for a clear voice of reason, that can balance out the noise coming from both parties. I see both sides clearly and have a somewhat clear picture of what both sides are trying to paint. What is freaking me out a bit is the radical nature of the debate. The profiteers keep the pot o'poop stirred up just enough to keep the frenzy going. While we are at each other's throats, who is keeping an eye on the profiteers? Is it a very elaborate shell game? One that is easy to play on us because we are so very easily distracted with storybook Hollywood marriages gone bust or the he said/she said, tit for tat between the MMA fighter and his ex-porn queen girlfriend? (Geez, tit and porn queen in the same sentence, two different meanings. I must be a writer. :P) President Obama is just a man in a suit with a really important job. A job that comes with a giant bull's eye painted on his back, and the backs of his family. Everyone thinks they are an expert on how to run the Nation, until they find themselves sitting in the West Wing wearing that target, realizing too late that they really don't know jack about running anything. I pray for the President because he is my leader and because he is a father. I pray for my Nation to find it's way back onto a common middle ground. I pray that the elitist left and the conservative right pull their collective heads out of, erm, I mean put their heads together and make this thing work. It's the only thing we got and the World is watching, be it on their fancy flat screens in Shanghai or their portable b&w tvs in Afghani caves. I pray that my generation is not the generation that will go down in history as being the one that screwed it all up.
    • Suzy Reply
      Amen, and thank you, Stella.
  14. Alison Reply
    I agree with you Suzy. I don't think it's a joke and I certainly don't think it's a funny one even if it is to be considered a joke. I like your original take on it though, no one else that I've seen has mentioned his children. I knew about the origin of this joke. I knew about death threats on President Bush. The fact that it has happened before doesn't justify it now. Two wrongs don't make a right, or did we all learn nothing in kindergarten? My personal perspective is this: I am a member of the US Armed Forces. The President is my Commander-in-Chief. You think I always like what my command decides to do? Do you always like what YOUR boss decides to do? Unlike in the civilian world however, I feel that the discipline that is essential to do my job prohibits me (and should prohibit my brothers and sisters in arms) from showing disrespect towards our highest commander. You do not show disrespect for your Officers, why is your President different? It doesn't necessarily apply to people who aren't in the service, you aren't required to listen to him, but I feel as citizens you should have some sort of similar level of respect. You should use the fact that you can speak out against a politician, especially one so high as the president, and not lose your job for it, and be respectful in your statements of discontent. I feel like we've forgotten how to do that in this nation.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Alison, for so beautifully sharing your point of view.
  15. James A Reply
    What a powerful and touching essay! When I first read that Facebook page, posted by a Christian friend of mine, I was utterly disgusted - too disgusted to even reply to it. It is beyond pornography. This statement raises doubts as to whether the speaker is really a Christian, maybe one in the making, but one who has a long way to go. To wish the death of a duly elected president is to say that our constitutionally-mandated democratic election process is irrelevant to the speaker; that their personal opinions matter more than tens of millions of Americans. Now that is truly anti-American. As mad as I was at Bush's policies, he WAS duly elected. Wrongly, I feel, but legally so. As an American and a retired law enforcement officer, I would have given my life to defend Bush's life - solely because to do otherwise would give a lone assassin veto power over the votes of tens of millions of Americans. For those who have supported that Facebook page and profess to be a loyal American and/or Christian, I say you owe all an open apology, posted on your Facebook page. Do you have the integrity to do so?
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, James.
  16. tim h Reply
    Actually, that joke goes back to the 80s, I remember hearing variations of it growing up in Missouri. Couldn't give a specific example, but it was meant to be adapted to whatever situation was at hand. Actually, I DO remember an example where the punch line was "...is my favorite wife." I remember that specifically because my child brain had problems processing "favorite wife" and the implied plural. That said, thanks for writing this bit - I hadn't seen this on FB. Lucky I guess. The problem is that it's a funny joke, but jokes gradually desensitize people to shocking ideas and make the worst things seem funny. You could make Nazism a little less scary by putting it in a joke. And yes, lots of people hate Obama and pray for his death. Bumper stickers, signs, Teabag things, etc. There are a number of good reasons given above as to why this is awful, but not really any given as to why it's unexpected. It's Christianity, folks, which includes the Old Testament which basically consists of people praying for God to kill anyone not in their tribe and God telling people to kill everyone not in the writers tribe. Of course Christians are going to pray for the death of scary "others" who seem to have power over them. Of course.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thanks, Tim, for reading and commenting. I can certainly attest to the fact that not all Christians pray for the death of "scary 'others' who seem to have power over them." I'm a Christian and I don't pray for anyone's death.
  17. heather Reply
    Thank you for posting this. This is something that has really been eating at me too, for all of those reasons you state and more. The viciousness of finding such a thing funny is appalling and sickening. By the way, there's a group on facebook now trying to circulate a petition and giving instructions for how to report the group for hate speech. Normally I'm against removal of groups from sites like this, but in this case, I really don't see much difference between this and other, more well-established forms of hate speech. Here's the url for that group in case anyone wants it: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=121236781223275 When I took someone off my friends' list for posting that thing, I was told I had no sense of humor. Well, I'd rather be humorless than have that kind of a sense of humor.
  18. heather Reply
    Whoops... URL got broken up. Let me do that again: facebook petition to remove prayer for Obama's death page
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Heather.
  19. Lisa Reply
    Darren - You make some cogent and very well-stated comments. I didn't know about the "original" and think that it too is/was in awfully poor taste. I am deeply saddened by the vitriolic nature of our discourse these days.
  20. Gray Alyse Reply
    Suzy, These type of comments scare me and make me very afraid for my children and grandchildren. As a Christian I don't take this a joke. I don't hate anyone enough to pray for their death, much less the President of our country. Thank you for providing such a pratical, sensible Christian perspective. May God Bless You, Alyse
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Alyse.
  21. Michael Reply
    I really can't believe how many people are completely over reacting to a tasteless joke and are acting like people are filling churches to say prayer in earnest hoping that God would then kill Obama. I don't know about any of you, but I'm pretty sure my God is not only smarter than that, but would not take kindly a prayer that starts with 3 lies (come on, how many people can really say MJ, FF and PS were their favorite anything?) and ends with a 4th one asking for the death of Obama. When people over react in this way it makes them look so much stupider than the classless dolt who told it.
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Michael, for taking the time to read and comment. As a side note, though "we" sometimes use the "word" stupider and often use the "word" stupidest, in fact, the correct usage is more stupid and most stupid.
  22. Nativetek Reply
    As a Native American I have many Gods. They all work for me. They supply what I need daily. Why the heck do some people think they need to ask the Gods for something. Praying is a waste of time. The gods work for YOU. Stop wasting time and enjoy what you have. Use what they supply, the rest is frivolous. A JOKE IS IRONY EXPOSED. ITS VERY NATURE DICTATES THAT SOMEHTING OR SOMEONE WILL BE THE BUTT OF IT. Michael's quote: "...and are acting like people are filling churches to say prayer in earnest hoping that God would then kill Obama." Hey Michael, Ask a Native American Indian if people ever gathered together in a church to plot the killing of a certin race, then exicuted what their gods would not....it happned to US, it could happen to YOU!
    • Suzy Reply
      Thank you, Nativetek. And to everyone who reads my blog, please know I have deleted a couple of comments because they used profanity or language that in my opinion is the equivalent of yelling fire in a theatre. I will never delete a comment simply because someone disagrees with me. But I will delete comments that use disrespectful language. After all, the two comments I deleted could have made their points equally well -- if not better -- with well-mannered language.
      • Suzy Reply
        Thank you, Liz. I got weepy, and not just because I was thinking I need to go take some Advil for my throbbing toe. It was because of your words and sentiments. I sometimes forget that part of writing in just lying down and letting the mind mellow. "Rest your head, you weary hobo" -- that's for you, Liz. God bless you, dear friend.

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