Our family does not watch a lot of television, but our radios are turned on frequently. We tend to stick to the left side of the dial, alternating between NPR and Christian radio stations. Last month, I attended a CLE on the other side of town, and listened to a local Christian radio station during the long drive home. The CLE had ended at mid-day, and on weekdays that tends to be a busy time for me. Generally I’m not in the car then and don’t have time for the radio. As a result, I happened upon a program called “Janet Parshall’s America” for the very first time. I almost could not believe what I was hearing. When I tuned in, Ms. Parshall was extremely angry and was venting about President Obama’s anti-Christian bias. In that our president is a professed Christian who was baptized several decades ago, I found this frustration perplexing to say the least.
While I was in the car and listening to the program, Ms. Parshall talked about a luncheon of past White House social secretaries before Obama took office. They were meeting with Desiree Rogers (the in-coming social secretary) to welcome her and support her in her new role. According to Ms. Parshall, Ms. Rogers had shocked the group by indicating at the luncheon that the Obamas were considering not displaying a creche that had been displayed in a public room of the White House (not in the private family quarters) by many past presidents. Apparently, the Obamas had concerns about offending people of other faiths. Ms. Parshall indicated that the creche was eventually displayed in the Obama White House, but seemed to dismiss it as simply bowing to public pressure (by indignant Christians?).
Ms. Parshall also talked with great anger about the president’s preferences for Muslims, who were given priority in getting H1N1 vaccinations before leaving for the Hajj. She also mentioned President Obama had issued proclamations to Muslims during some religious holiday. Ms. Parshall equated these preferences and the hesitancy over the creche as evidence of anti-Christian hostility.
Frankly, I was not aware of the White House creche. I do not follow White House decorations and celebrations. I missed that Oprah special. It does not really matter to me one way or the other, but certainly I would appreciate concerns about offending non-Christian Americans with a creche in a public room of a building that is owned by our country’s taxpayers. If the United States one day has a Buddhist or Muslim majority, I don’t think I’d be thrilled by prominent displays of those religions in public buildings.
Moreover, it seems like a basic public health policy to give Americans traveling on the Hajj priority for a vaccine against a highly transmittable virus that they could bring back to our country. It also seems like very basic political common sense to issue proclamations to any sizeable demographic on days of importance to those groups. I’d be surprised if President George W. Bush and his predecessors did not issue similar celebratory proclamations to Muslims as well.
As a more general matter, I just don’t understand the apparently continuing furor against President Obama and the suspicion of his faith by some conservative Christians. Mr. Obama was baptized as a Christian in 1988, well before he entered politics. He was an active member of Trinity United Church of Christ for about twenty years. If that was all a facade to woo Christian voters, it was quite an elaborate hoax and it apparently did not work too well. Why would anyone would fail to accept someone’s profession of faith at their word? I have always accepted President Bush’s assertion that he is a Christian. Why wouldn’t others accept President Obama’s? I don’t understand what is going on.
I also don’t understand how the White House creche “issue” can be cited as evidence of hostility to Christianity and not just sensitivity to non-Christians in a pluralistic democracy. The American people elected Barack Obama to be our president, not our head pastor. He was elected to govern all of us, not just the Christians.
To me, the most concerning aspect of Ms. Parshall’s program that day last month was that it seemed to be a desperate, even silly attempt to come up with some reason to dislike and oppose President Obama. I’ve perused Ms. Parshall’s website, a link to which is provided below.
The website is quite interesting. Ms. Parshall’s radio program is labeled a “ministry” but conservative politics are pervasive. In listening, her radio program was very reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh. She certainly had the angry tone down pat. Beyond gender, the main difference between Mr. Limbaugh and Ms. Parshall was Ms. Parshall’s quoting of Scripture and references to prayer. I have actually listened to Mr. Limbaugh on numerous occasions and don’t recall him ever quoting Scripture or talking about prayer. Maybe I just missed those broadcasts.
From her website, I take it that Ms. Parshall’s show is not always as political as it was the day I happened upon it. Looking at her past program topics, some do not appear to be political at all. Indeed, I caught a little of her program earlier this month, and she seemed much less angry as she spoke with former Redskins coach, Jim Gibbs.
It is interesting because when I was looking at Ms. Parshall’s website, the summary of the show on December 11, 2009 (the day I first caught her radio program) mentions nothing of President Obama’s anti-Christian hostility, the White House creche or the president’s Muslim bias. The show is apparently a three hour program, and I listened to about half an hour of it, all of which focused on such concerns. I’m not sure why the program summary does not mention that part of the program.
Ephesians 4:31 (New American Standard Bible)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.