Devil is in the (religious) details

Talk about a tweet going viral.

A Twitter post by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, voicing frustration with the budget deal reached by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama did just that:

This deal is a sugar-coated satan sandwich. If you lift the bun, you will not like what you see.

He followed up that tweet with this one:

This debt deal is antithetical to everything the great religions of the world teach, which is take care of the poor, aged, vulnerable.

Soon, media all over the place were serving up sugar-coated Satan sandwiches — and, really, who can blame them?

“A Lucifer Panini?” asked CNN’s Political Ticker.

ABC News put its investigative prowess to work on the “Satan Sandwich”:

Yesterday, Representative Emanuel Cleaver used the term “Satan Sandwich” to refer to the debt deal cooked up by House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama (or should we say, Commander in Chef?). This title attracted a lot of media attention, but as it turns out, Rep. Cleaver, D-S.C., was not the first to coin the term.

In a deliciously literal form, a “Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich” refers to a red velvet variation on the Southern Moon Pie. Made with red devil’s food cake and marshmallow filling, you can find the recipe here.

CNN, too, delved into the potential ingredients:

What’s in a Satan sandwich? Deviled ham? Goat horn peppers?Marmite? (Surely that is not the foodstuff of the angels.)

Politico noted:

Even Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with Cleaver, saying it comes with a side of “Satan fries,” though she says she will support it.

Fun, fun, fun!

But, oh, I almost forgot: This is GetReligion. So I guess we better explore any potential ghosts related to this story. Anybody see a religion angle?

As best I could tell, most media took rather shallow bites of the Satan sandwich and steered clear of the meatier parts. By that, I mean they did not seem all that interested in the idea of the debt deal being “antithetical to everything the great religions of the world teach.”

Honestly, I don’t begrudge the media a little lightheartedness. At the same time, just a sentence or two could have provided much-needed context about Cleaver and why he might make such a statement.

For example, here’s how Mediabistro’s FishbowlDC handled it:

Deeply religious, Cleaver is no stranger to injecting biblical references into his political theater. As a United Methodist minister, he prays in his office and apartment several times a day.

See how easy — and tasty — that was?

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Jerry

    Bobby, thanks for picking up this topic. I wondered about that comment and am happy that you found the info I wanted to know on Mediabistro.

  • Bobby

    Thanks, Jerry.

  • Julia

    mmmmm moonpies

  • Bill

    And don’t forget the RC Cola, Julia.

  • Mollie

    The local ice creamery here made sugar-coated Satan ice cream sandwiches the next day. I know that’s not journalism related but I had to share.

  • Dan Crawford

    An even more interesting story might involve all those self-proclaimed “Christian” politicos and how they think their votes displayed gospel values. But religion was noticeably absent from the wrangling that went on for the past two months.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    I’m waiting for the New York Times to editorialize on the dangers of theocracy. Clearly, Rep. Cleaver is ready to impose his religious values on the nation.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    Just looked back over the post and am appalled… I say APPALLED… at the slam toward Marmite. This is “journalism”? Clearly the writer has never known the joy of a thin layer of Marmite under toasted peanut butter and bananas or jam. All on thick bread that puts up a fight going down. Granted that Marmite is an acquired taste, it’s a taste well worth acquiring.

    Vegemite… not so much.

  • Jettboy

    I second what Passing By said. He is a Democrat and black. If he was Republican the press would be all over his “Talaban-like” views of Church and State co-mingling. Would like to know what he thinks of homosexual marriages.

  • R.S.Newark

    What surprises me is that somebody…anybody continues to believe that Hell exists.

  • Bern

    People, people, people: it’s AUGUST.
    They don’t call it “silly season” for nothing.