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General News    H2'ed 3/22/11

Psalm 109 Imprecatory Prayer Case to Go Forward in Texas

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For the past year and a half or so, droves of right wing Christian websites have been selling a variety of "Pray for Obama" items -- t-shirts, bumper stickers, hats, and even teddy bears -- all sporting the slogan "Pray for Obama" followed by the Bible verse reference "Psalm 109:8."

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Psalm 109 is what's known as an imprecatory prayer -- a prayer to invoke evil, misfortune, or physical harm upon someone. The words of Psalm 109:8 are: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." The next line is "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."

As Frank Shaeffer, appearing on Rachel Maddow back in November 2009 when this "Pray for Obama" merchandise was first becoming popular, explained: "[T]here is a crazy fringe to whom all these little messages that have been pouring out of Fox News, now on a bumper sticker, talking about doing away with Obama, asking God to kill him. Really, this is trolling for assassins."

In an effort to determine "if the design was simply intended to be criticism of the President or something much worse," CafePress posted an online poll, and found that: "General consensus has proven that the design does point to a broader interpretation of the Psalm and thus has been deemed inappropriate for sale at CafePress." also banned the slogan, issuing a statement saying they had "determined that these products, in the context of the full text of Psalm 109, may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest physical harm to the President of the United States." But the banning of the slogan by mainstream websites like CafePress and Zazzle hasn't slowed the sale of 'Obama Prayer' merchandise on right wing Christian websites or the slogan's popularity.

In January, a Florida sheriff's deputy was suspended for placing a note with "The Obama Prayer" in a coworker's Bible last September. According to ABC News:

"When Sergeant Martha Nash reported for duty at the Manatee County, Fla., Sheriff's Office on Sept. 29, she said she found her copy of the New Testament lying on the desk with a peculiar note sticking out from inside.

"'The Obama Prayer,' it read, in an unrecognizable, handwritten scrawl.

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Chris Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History.
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