In case you missed it, there has been quite a tussle in Washington this last week over who God likes more. The Republicans held a vote in the House on the so-called National Motto - "In God we trust." Apparently there is an overwhelming majority in the house who believes that the motto should be reaffirmed since only nine people voted against it. Of course, who in their right mind would vote publicly against God, and still want to get reelected?
The response from the White House was to mock the vote and suggest that God wants the congress to help people get jobs. On the same day during a press conference, White House Press secretary Jay Carney quipped:
"Well, I believe the phrase from the Bible is, 'The Lord helps those who help themselves,'"
The only problem is, that saying cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. In fairness to Carney, he is not alone. Many people think that saying is in the Bible. A 2000 Barna survey found that 75% of those questioned think that the saying is in the Bible. In fact, the saying has existed in a number of ways for thousands of years. Wikipedia provides a helpful overview of the saying's history.
This reminds me of another even more embarrassing time when a politician used scripture incorrectly. It took place at a time when there was much debate around a proposed law that would impact the services and education received by children. During an encounter with a reporter who asked the then Speaker of the House about opposition to the bill the then Speaker answered this way.
Jesus said "suffer the little children," well I say the children have suffered enough and we need to pass this bill.
In this case the saying is in the Bible, but it has nothing to do with suffering children. It is taken from Matthew 19:14 in the King James Bible where the old English means "allow the little children." Jesus was telling the disciples not to prevent children from coming to him. The Speaker not only misquoted the Bible, the Speaker also failed to understand the language of the passage.
We are entering the stupid season, sometimes described as the election season, which means that we will be hearing more of this type of silliness. I wish politicians would stop quoting the Bible. It rarely goes well with them.
One last thing, I remember a humorous quip from my grandfather about the National Motto. Because it appears on all money in the USA he would say: "In God we trust, everyone else pays cash."