The Course of Reason

Obama prays daily.  Joy.

August 30, 2010

Not thrilled about Obama feeling like he needs to pray daily.


I read this and am now tempted to go drown my frustration by eating the entire birthday cake that Katie bought me yesterday.

The White House said on Thursday that President Barack Obama is a Christian who prays daily as it looked to tamp down growing doubts among Americans about the president's religion.

It's the 21st century and yet the leader of the free world, in order to ingratiate himself with the common man, must profess to believe that not only did a Jew rise from the dead 2,000 years ago, but that he is in communion with that Jew.

In response to the 18% of the population who are batshit insane and paranoid enough to think Obama is a Muslim, White House spokesman Bill Burton said...

"The president is obviously a Christian. He prays every day."

And rather than make people shudder that the president believes he can kneel in the oval office and run his policy through that 2,000 year-old Jew (and presumably get a cosmic thumbs-up regardless of the policy), it will actually make most people like him more.  Ahhhhhh, welcome to the future.

Imagine that Bill Burton added the following to his profession of Obama's Christianity...

"The president is obviously a Christian. He communicates with god every day by reciting his prayers into the microwave."

Most of the people who are assuaged by Obama's daily appliance-less prayer would probably recoil in disgust at the sheer lunacy of such behavior.  However, I fail to see how the inclusion of the microwave makes this scenario more crazy.

I'm not comforted by crazy in the hands of a global superpower, and I'm a little dejected that so many people are comforted by it.



About the Author: JT Eberhard

JT Eberhard is an activist and speaker on LGBT rights and the dangers of faith who has given talks and participated in several debates on religion and science primarily throughout the Midwest.  JT is also the co-founder and production leader for the <a href="">Skepticon</a> series of events as well as co-founder and leader of the Missouri State Chapter of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, one of the nation's largest college skeptic groups. 


#1 Joey (Guest) on Monday August 30, 2010 at 3:06pm

Why is it important to note that Jesus was "a Jew" more than once? Many secular Jewish people, like myself, who do not believe in God or practice religion but are still connected to our culture, do not appreciate the term "Jew" used as it is here, which is almost an epithet. Why is Jesus's Judaism relevant anyway? How about "he prays to some guy" instead?

#2 Leo L. on Monday August 30, 2010 at 3:26pm

I'm sure you didn't intend Jew to be used insultingly here, but nonetheless it is. The reason why is because you use the word Jew as an insult and there's a history of using that word as an insult. Just replace it with "some guy" instead and you're fine.

#3 What? (Guest) on Monday August 30, 2010 at 4:23pm

How does that make any sense, Leo? Please actually point out how the use of 'Jew' is an insult in this instance of describing the fictional character that is being talked to. There's historical precedent for other words being used as insults, that doesn't mean we balk at any occurence of that word- especially when it is in no way being used as an insult.

Your immediate leaping to the conclusion that it must be an insult says far more about either your own oversensitivity or ingrained definition of the word.

#4 JT Eberhard (Guest) on Monday August 30, 2010 at 7:02pm guys realize there's such a thing as Jewish people, right?

You also realize that Jesus was one of those people, right?


#5 Ralph Dumain (Guest) on Monday August 30, 2010 at 7:25pm

Actually, the repeated use of the word "Jew" does have a derogatory connotation, intended or not. Mentioning Jesus' Jewishness matters in some contexts, but here it's just jarring. The larger point though, is that this particular piece of blogging is a stupid, juvenile waste of time. It would be far more useful to link this bit of make believe with all the make believe that Obama and a preponderance of the American people have indulged in, mainly a cloaking of their true nature and real conditions and prospects with the illusion that they are good wholesome people, an illusion which drives America's compulsory religiosity.

#6 JT Eberhard (Guest) on Monday August 30, 2010 at 7:43pm


Watch this...

"Actually, the repeated use of the word "Jew" does have a derogatory connotation, intended or not."

No, it doesn't. It possesses no more negative intent than calling someone a German or a Christian over and over again - it's simply a word describing what they are.

Anybody who reads this and gets that I was out to offend Jewish people rather than referring to Jesus is someone dying to be offended - and in that case they should be grateful that I gave them the excuse they were so determined to find.


#7 Leo L. on Monday August 30, 2010 at 11:33pm

@JT: No one suggested you were intentionally trying to be offensive. Here's how I see it:

1) It's offensive because 'Jew' has a history of being used derogatorily and is being referred to in a derogatory context here. In other words, it's not just being used as a noun but as the object of derogatory phrase.

2) Your line, "... run his policy through that 2,000 year-old Jew (and presumably get a cosmic thumbs-up regardless of the policy)..." is also suggestive of the well-worn anti-semitic trope that the Jews run everything.

Again, I don't think you intended it to be offensive but I also think that you may not be aware of the breadth and degree of anti-semitism that exists even today, even in the U.S. Nor are you likely aware that anti-semitism has been on the rise in the last decade.

#8 What? (Guest) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 at 9:42am

This is quite simply ridiculous. Read people please:
"Even today some people are wary of its use, and prefer to use "Jewish". Indeed, when used as an adjective (e.g. "Jew lawyer") or verb (e.g. "to jew someone"),[1] the term Jew is purely pejorative. However, when used as a noun, "Jew" is preferred, as other circumlocutions (e.g. "Jewish person") give the impression that the term "Jew" is offensive in all contexts."

And the selected answer by a Jew from this Ask Yahoo page which nicely describes how 'Jew' is not offensive:

#9 What? (Guest) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 at 9:43am

(answer split for character limits)

#10 What? (Guest) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 at 9:45am

#11 What? on Tuesday August 31, 2010 at 9:49am

(forgot urls weren't usable by guests);_ylt=AnLww2jRNxphtH.cGFhuJOPty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20071227115427AAmJ1YG&show=7#profile-info-e8a42257dd2b34817d2020222ee63839aa

From a Jewish FAQs site(
"In common speech, the word "Jew" is used to refer to all of the physical and spiritual descendants of Jacob/Israel, as well as to the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac and their wives, and the word "Judaism" is used to refer to their beliefs. Technically, this usage is inaccurate, just as it is technically inaccurate to use the word "Indian" to refer to the original inhabitants of the Americas. However, this technically inaccurate usage is common both within the Jewish community and outside of it, and is therefore used throughout this site."

Before leaping to the conclusion that its offensive, try actually trying to explain why. Its used by Jews and non-Jews alike modernly. To skirt around the word Jew is far more offensive because it implies that there is a problem with being a Jew. When Jews still self-identify, claim, and own the word I refuse to allow the hatred of others to ruin its meaning. Balking at the usage of a word that jewish people identify as only shows that you associate the insults used by ethnic hatred with it. This is basic to all word reclamation and can be seen in the LGBT community as well.

#12 Wendy Hughes (Guest) on Tuesday August 31, 2010 at 3:55pm

JT: In fact, being Jewish does prepare one for being a little sensitive to insinuations of possible slurs and being seen as "the Other." The Holocaust happened in a modern society -- a plan to eradicate an entire ethnic group based on the ravings of a madman, but carried out in a "business as usual" bureaucracy of a highly technical 20th century society, and finally throughout most of Europe. And that wasn't the first time. Think Spanish Inquisition, Russian Pogroms... Jews are a convenient target. Speaking a different language, reading a different bible, wearing funny underwear, eating different food... and being blamed for poor Jesus' death on the cross.
Genocide has happened to other groups, Rwandans, for example, but the Holocaust, or Shoah, as it is called, is the reason I, as a secular Jewess, still cannot turn my back on that part of myself. It would be a betrayal of something that, although my family had migrated to the United States before it happened, I must honor.
If someone is bothered by a painful sensation by your use of the expression... and trust me, they are trying to tell you that, then just engage in the dialog. There's no harm in trying to find out what it is that they are feeling. I think it's a little like Phil Plait's "D-BAD." Maybe not.
It bothers me, too, that President Obama has a special Pastor that he checks in with on his Blackberry every morning.... I don't feel what he feels. Evidently, you don't feel what I feel.

#13 JT Eberhard (Guest) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 at 12:27am


Sure, I'll engage in the dialogue.

Have Jews been persecuted? Sure. Does that justify taking offense when someone (like myself) uses the word "Jew" to describe a Jew? Hell. No.

Seriously. You trot out the holocaust and act like I'm somehow endorsing it by innocuously referring to Jesus, who was Jewish, as a Jew. Just because somebody's offended doesn't mean I need to feel guilty. I don't care when Christians are bothered by open criticism, and I don't care when Jews are offended when I call a Jew a Jew.

Yes, some people have told me they're offended. As "What" showed, there's plenty who aren't (my facebook wall has a comment from a Jew who is bewildered by the reaction of some people). So I can't readily go with what everybody is telling me. Instead, I have to determine if the offense is justified. So far it seems like a few people eager to take offense - in which case they should be grateful I've handed them the excuse they were so eager to find.

I hear that you're offended. I'm not convinced I should care.


#14 Elizabeth K on Wednesday September 01, 2010 at 7:54am

JT: Thank you for engaging in a dialog. I can't convince you to care. What I can try to convey is that I don't know what it feels like to be in the majority. I don't know what it feels like to be Christian in America. Read the sentence: “The president is obviously a Christian. He prays every day.” That is supposed to be convincing the majority of Americans that Obama is their representative in the Oval Office... but what does that say to the rest of us? According to statistics, there are fewer than 2% of Americans who are Jewish, and over 10% who are "nonreligious" however that is defined. That was about equal to the percentage of the population that it took to become an economic force for gays to be taken seriously. Jews are only recognized that way because they've tended to go into high profile professions such as banking, film industry, medicine, law... etc etc, you get the picture. In Germany, that wasn't enough to guarantee security, nor in Italy in the 20th Century. There is still a lingering insecurity... still a history one is supposed to learn from --- or be doomed to repeat, right?
So -- when I hear you or anyone else speak in a pejorative manner, about Jews, undocumented aliens, people of color, intentionally or accidentally, and I don't speak up, what does that make me? I can't make you care, but I can present you with more information so that you can possibly reconsider your position and maybe the next time you might make a different decision in your choice of words. Maybe not... but I will have the satisfaction of sharing my experience with another human being who may not have heard that experience or information. Otherwise, what use is it? I would be as guilty as the bystanders in Nazi Germany.
- Wendy Hughes
(Elizabeth K is my screen name on these Forums)

#15 Greg Bart (Guest) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 at 3:43pm

Blogger makes a meh-ish post bemoaning how modern US pols must, in order to protect their professional hide, kowtow to religious stupidity. He deploys the word "Jew" in elaborating his objection. Some take offense, wondering why this particular fact is pertinent to the matter at hand.

Personally I think the blogger is guilty of a certain rhetorical clumsiness, or maybe he holds the misbegotten notion that tossing out a few staccato "Jew"s makes for a swarthier read. I doubt he meant to actually offend anybody.

As to why he should "care" well if in the course of preaching to the choir he manages to so casually discombobulate a few of the might-righteous, maybe the sermon needs some tightening up. What's more, Believers, after all, will easily parry your microwave thrust with the observation that no official musty-old tome requires or even envisions microwaves, hence the blogger's analogy is flawed. And they'd be right.

Two stylistic own-goals in such a short piece is two too many, particulaly on such a fertile field. I doubt Obama is actually a religious crazy so why not make the issues surrounding *that* nugget the focus, instead of squirely-if-innocent juxtapositions of Jews and ovens?

#16 KLB (Guest) on Friday November 25, 2011 at 4:18pm

"When Jews still self-identify, claim, and own the word I refuse to allow the hatred of others to ruin its meaning."

AWESOME! That means I can use the word "Nigger" anytime, anyplace!

Thanks, JT!




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