Bill Press: ‘Inappropriate’ to Talk About God on Steps of Lincoln Memorial

Progressive radio host and Toxic Talk author Bill Press stirred up a little trouble on Reliable Sources this weekend, doubling down on his comparison of Glenn Beck‘s “Restoring Honor” rally to an al Qaeda gathering at Ground Zero, but also questioning the appropriateness of talking about God at all on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Fellow panelist Matt Lewis points out that Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., might disagree, but based on what I’ve been hearing lately, I’m inclined to agree with Press. In fact, I’ll go a step farther and say that King was wrong, too.

First and foremost, it is important to note that this is a free country. Glenn Beck, and Martin Luther King before him, are well within their rights to talk about whatever they want to on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Nobody’s questioning that. But does that mean they should do it?

We’re not talking about just any God here, either. Both Beck and King specifically invoked the God of Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, Christianity is a beautiful religion, and I’m sure most Christians are lovely people, but given the suffering of so many Americans at the hands of extremists, is this the sensitive choice?

Abraham Lincoln’s most enduring legacy is the freeing of the slaves, an action that gave rise to the worst extremist Christian terror group in our nation’s history, the Ku Klux Klan. The burning of the Christian cross was the Klan’s calling card, and current white supremacist organizations continue to use the cross as their symbol.

The actions of these cross-burning terrorists are portrayed as the acts of extremists, but even so-called moderate Christians continue to use a religious text that tacitly encourages slavery. Again, it’s a free country, but is it wise to invoke that text at a site like the Lincoln Memorial, which is so firmly intertwined with the end of slavery?

Now, this next part is going to sound a little politically incorrect, but the crowd at Beck’s rally was predominantly white. I know, these aren’t the same white people who held slaves, or burned crosses, and I know there were lots of white people who also died in the war to defeat slavery, but still. Is it sensitive?

There will be apologists who claim that Beck was attempting to heal some of these wounds, but to those who are still feeling the after-effects of slavery and Jim Crow, this is a slap in the face. This so-called desire to build bridges has led to an America where, as Beck himself often points out, a racist President‘s entire legislative agenda is based on slavery reparations. Is America ready to hear about Christianity while the ink is still drying on the health care reparations law?

Finally, supporters of Beck’s speech will probably point to President Obama’s remarks on the matter. It’s important to note, though, that when asked about the rally, our Christian President Obama spoke only to the rights involved, not to the wisdom of having it at that site.

Beck’s rally has come and gone, and while no one could have known that it would have been so heavy on Christian themes, it would be wise if, going forward, the Parks Department put a little more thought into granting these permits. No, not to deny, or oppress, but just to get all the stakeholders together to talk. If they had done so this time, they might have been able to avoid this heart-stabbing insensitivity. Wouldn’t the Jefferson Memorial have been a better choice?


1 Comment

  1. Well played, sir

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