Obama Spokesman Misquotes the Bible

White House spokesman Jay Carney tried to quote the Bible last week in support of the president’s jobs bill and got it entirely wrong. He quoted that age-old line about God helping those who help themselves, which of course appears nowhere in the Bible.

R. CARNEY: Well, I believe the phrase from the Bible* is, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” And I think the point the President is making is that we should — we have it within our capacity to do the things to help the American people.

But even if the Bible did say that, why should anyone care? Can we just stop quoting the Bible in support of public policy, people of both parties? The Bible supports nothing at all. Public policy should be defended on a rational basis, not on the basis of religious mythology.

"Indeed. First thought that came to mind."

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  • anandine

    I don’t know; it’s mildly comforting that when an administration official tries to act religious, he doesn’t know enough about it to get it right.

    Of course, wingnuts also misquote the bible.

  • had3

    The Lord & Taylor dresses those who dress themselves.

  • Abby Normal

    The Bible supports nothing at all.

    Or anything at all. Same difference I suppose.

    The quote comes from one of Aesop’s fables which, as far as I’m concerned, is a preferable source of guidance to the one Carney attempted to tie it anyway.

  • What amusing (or annoying, depending) is that the Bible is chock-full of hatin’ on the rich and lauding the poor. And some schmuck goes and invents a fake Bible quote to basically invert one of its central messages.

  • carolw

    I don’t know about “the bible supports nothing at all.” If you have a wobbly chest of drawers, a bible would support a corner pretty well, I think.

  • Fred Mounts

    There’s a cut scene in Assassins Creed that has the same mistake featured. One guy mentions that the bible says “the lord helps…” and the other guy points out that it in fact comes from Aesop’s Fables.

  • Mr Ed

    Blessed are the cheese makers

  • RustD

    This phrase means there is no god, so do it yourself. I am always amazed that anyone believes this is a pro religious statement.

  • RustD

    So there’s this huge flood one day, and an entire town looks like it’s going to be swallowed up by the waters. And the Police and Rescue Agencies are running all over the place trying to get people to safety.

    So they send the rescue boat over to this house where a guy’s sitting on the roof with the water lapping around his ankles and they say “Come on, quickly, there isn’t much time”

    To which he says “Nah, it’s ok, God will Provide”

    So about an hour later they’re zooming past in the boat again and they notice the guy’s still there, only the water’s up to his waist, almost at the top of the roof.. “Quick” they say, get in the boat, it’s going to get worst before it gets better.

    “Nah, don’t worry – God will Provide”

    An hour after that a rescue helicopter flies over the area and notices the guy, who must be standing on the peak of the roof now, with only his head and shoulders out of the water. “GRAB THE ROPE!” they cry “IT’S YOUR ONLY HOPE!”

    “Don’t worry” he replies calmly “God will provide.”

    So he gets drowned of course. And he goes to heaven, and is a little ticked off with god for drowing him like that, and expresses his concern saying “I had FAITH, I BELIEVED in you – and still you didn’t help me”

    “HELP YOU?!” God replies “What MORE did you want – I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”


  • Chris from Europe

    What was the punishment at Pharyngula for that joke again?

  • Uncle Glenny

    Never mind the source, I always thought the phrase was something like

    (1) an excuse to not give anyone any help at all

    (2) an excuse to break into the (ice cream; snacks; whatever) mommy bought and hid

    (a) justification for an obese feline to jump into the kitchen trash can to pig out

  • Sastra

    Evidently this phrase was on some sort of public-knowledge-on-the-Bible survey which went around several years ago, and the fact that it was commonly misidentified as scriptural provoked an angry essay from what was probably a fundamentalist preacher. He argued that “the Lord helps those who help themselves” was humanism — and the exact opposite of the “true” message of the Bible.

    According to his (and God’s) interpretation, the purpose of life on earth was for Man to realize that he can’t do anything on his own. We are worthless, weak, and in need of humility. Self-confidence and self-reliance were arrogant — like a two-year-old telling Daddy he can fix the family car. No he can’t — and the sooner he realizes this the better. Pain, suffering, and failure were necessary and inevitable for humanity to recognize that they needed to give everything over to God. Only God can solve problems. Sit back and wait for a miracle. Accept his authority. And so forth.

    He backed it up with plenty of actual quotes from the Bible, of course, so it seems to me to be a reasonable interpretation. Reasonable, that is, from the standpoint of trying to figure out what the authors intended.

    (I think the penalty on Pharyngula for telling that hoary old flood joke was death. But I might misremember.)