Saying ‘Goddamn’ is worse than racial hatred? Holyschmoly!

Saying ‘Goddamn’ is worse than racial hatred? Holyschmoly! July 22, 2019

Apparently a lot of Christians are less offended by President Donald Trump’s chronic racial bigotry than the fact he often casually “takes the Lord’s name in vain.”

blasphemy racism trump christianity
Caricature of U.S. President Donald Trump. (Donkey Hotey, Flikr, CC BY 2.0)

I learned this today reading one of The Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta’s always compelling posts, which began:

“While much of the political conversation this week has centered around Donald Trump‘s open bigotry and racism against four Democratic congresswomen of color, it was something else he said that got the attention of a lot of conservative Christians.

“Trump, twice, said the word ‘Goddamn.’”

Mr. Trump uttered these profanities during the recent rally where, in a racist screed, he excoriated Minnesota’s freshman U.S. congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee as a child and now a naturalized citizen. Omar is also Muslim.

Once during the rally, Mehta wrote, the president used the term when describing a conversation he purportedly had with a businessman acquaintance in which he said the man would become “so Goddamn poor” if he didn’t support Trump in the 2020 election.

Even West Virginia state senator Paul Hardesty was aghast at the cursing—so aghast, in fact, that he sent the president a letter saying he was “appalled” by it, and that there was “NO place in society—anywhere, anyplace, anytime—where that type of language should be used or handled.”

Mehta also included a number of tweets from the president’s Twitter feed (see some at end of this post). All said roughly the same thing: “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is shameful and beyond the pale.

I had two reactions to this.

Firstly, I’m embarrassed for any Americans in the 21st century who believe that saying a fantasy word is somehow worse than the leader of the country vigorously spreading racial hatred and xenophobia to rile up fellow bigots.

Secondly, I’m stunned that even some Americans in the 21st century still think blasphemy—“taking the Lord’s name in vain” and other religious slights—should be prohibited, in a country whose states are steadily removing anti-blasphemy statutes from their legal codes that are obsolete artifacts of our Calvinist past.

Canada and Ireland last year decriminalized blasphemy after centuries of laws outlawing defaming of religion. As I wrote in a December 2018 post on this topic, this is the situation in America:

“Not so much, the United States. Whereas no federal statute still exists against blasphemy in America, a number of states still criminalize it, including Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania. But the last person jailed for blasphemy in the U.S. was in 1838, but there have been a number of convictions with fines over the years into the 20th century.”

Still, I sense with the responses of Christians appalled by the president’s language that they would love to see a federal anti-blasphemy statute, and would even be willing to ignore essential church-state separation to get it done.

There’s a sliver of hope for the republic, though. One of the respondents wrote:

I was very disappointed that you felt the need to use the Lord’s name in vain at last night’s rally. You are better than this and I pray you will never do it again, otherwise I have no choice as a conservative Christian than to no longer support you. Please apologize to everyone.”

If that’s what it goddamn takes to halt hypocritical conservative Christian support of the president, I’m all for it.

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