Are you old enough to remember “Two Corinthians?”
In January 2016, with the Iowa caucuses weeks away and evangelical voters wary of Donald Trump’s three marriages and previous infidelities, then-candidate Trump visited Liberty University, where he spoke in front of thousands of Christian students.
“Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame,” Trump said. “Is that the one you like?”
It’s Second Corinthians, something the establishment media — not generally keen to point religious solecisms out — made sure we were aware of.
NPR: “Citing ‘Two Corinthians,’ Trump Struggles To Make The Sale To Evangelicals.” CNN: “Trump blames Tony Perkins for ‘2 Corinthians.’” Mother Jones: “Two Corinthians Walk Into a Bar….”
It wasn’t just, to the media, that Trump had tried to recite one of the shibboleths of evangelical conservatives and face-planted. It was a case of hypocrisy: For all of his outsider cred and appeals to Christian voters, Donald Trump was another politician who’d crassly use the Bible on the stump even though it was a book they seldom read, let alone followed.
Four years later, presumptive President-elect Joe Biden made his sale to wary Christian voters in the center, in part, on the basis of the fact he was, as the establishment media would say, a “devout Catholic.”
That’s still supposed to be part of his appeal — even though he apparently doesn’t know how to pronounce the word Psalms, having referred to the term “psalmist” as “palmist.”
"Devout Catholic" Joe Biden doesn't know the "P" in "Psalmist" is silent, not the "s". pic.twitter.com/kp9MZi3NvQ
— Howie Carr (@HowieCarrShow) November 25, 2020
Psalms: Leave off the first “s” for “saving grace,” I suppose.
This was at the close of Biden’s Thanksgiving eve address, a somber affair in which he compared the “long, hard winter” in 2020-21 with that spent by George Washington and his troops in 1777-78 at Valley Forge, urged us to have small celebrations at home, touted his agenda, claimed that we should “be thankful for democracy itself” because “democracy was tested this year” and said we should “want solutions, not shouting, reasons, not hyper-partisanship, light, not heat.”
Read into this what you will, but he didn’t stick the landing: Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me,” which segued into the closing words of his speech.
With all due respect to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians — “for God loves a cheerful giver” is very much in secular circulation at this point — its themes don’t have the resonance of Psalms, particularly around Thanksgiving:
Even an Easter-and-Christmas Christian usually knows the first “s” is silent in Psalms, the same way someone with a passing knowledge of America knows the second “s” is silent in Arkansas.
It’s something we all would have done in Sunday school as kids, not in Thanksgiving eve speeches as adults. And yes, Biden was reading from prepared remarks, as is his wont. So was Donald Trump during the “Two Corinthians” to-do.
Yet, there’s been almost no media coverage of Biden’s biblical faux pas. The two situations are roughly analogous. Both men were trying to sell themselves to Americans of faith. Both were faced with serious impediments to getting their support — in Trump’s case, his personal life; in Biden’s case, his party’s positions on the sanctity of life and LGBT issues.
Trump’s “Two Corinthians” moment was treated as if it ought to disqualify him among evangelical Christians. Biden’s remark passed with barely a shrug.
The media has also largely taken Biden’s self-billing as devoutly Catholic at face value, which is curious when you consider his positions on numerous policy matters run counter to both Vatican teaching and the Bible.
Both Biden and Trump mispronounced books of the Bible. Only one wants taxpayers to pay for abortion. If the media wants to see what gets Christians angry, stick around.
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