Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Devil Has Been Busy Lately


Having no other explanation for a president who has cut unemployment, reduced the deficit, extricated troops from Iraq, ended more than 50 years of hostility with Cuba, began the reform of the medical industry and did so without a hint of scandal, Republican seers are now claiming that President Barack Obama is the devil.

Their “proof” comes from a picture taken recently when the president spoke about the militant Islamic State from the Cross Hall of the White House.  A curtain behind him contained an odd design that, when Obama was perfectly positioned, looked like he was adorned with horns.

If that was not enough, according to published reports, Obama must be the devil because his name has “three syllables, a triangle has three sides, 9/11 is three numbers,” and soon the nation will mark “the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

South Carolina State Senator Lee Bright has no doubts of Obama’s hellish ties.  He said approval of  same-sex marriage was proof of the devil’s influence. He was supposed to be talking about the removal of the Confederate flag from the state house there, but instead launched into his diatribe against Obama, adding, “We can rally together and talk about a flag all we want, but the devil is taking control of this land, and we’re not stopping him.”

Of course, Satan is always lurking in the minds of our most learned political leaders.  In 2008, for example, former Senator and failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum claimed that the devil was trying to destroy the country – and this was before Obama was even elected to his first term.

Santorum told his audience at Ave Maria University in Florida:  “This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country—the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age. There is no one else to go after other than the United States, and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America's preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.”

To Santorum, who represents many people of the same ilk, Satan has already successful conquered academia.  College educated folks were the first to fall victim, led by Harvard, Santorum claimed.  Not surprisingly, polls repeatedly show that better-educated people somehow have lost faith in the devil’s existence.

Santorum then said that the devil conquered Protestant sects and finally politics and government.  Santorum apparently didn’t see any irony to his own claim although he’s a politician.

Of course, the devil has been active in so many other arenas.  Pat Robertson, a minister and another failed president candidate whose inanities are now limited to religious broadcasts, once insisted the Haiti’s founders “swore a pact to the devil,” which explains the devastating earthquakes and other natural misfortunes there.  Actually, the rebels who threw out the French held a religious ritual prior to the 1800s uprising.  However, they followed voodoo, which is a perfectly normal faith despite its reputation and Robertson’s slander.

The devil can get very personal. Failed presidential candidate Herman Cain was sure God told him to run in 2012, but then three women promptly accused him of having affairs.  He quickly withdrew.  What really caused his failure?  Not his own behavior, of course. Cain, now a minister, knows all too well who was behind his failed bid for the White House: the devil.

 "It made me realize that there was a force bigger than right," he said.

Actually, according to former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2012, the devil has expanded his influence well beyond our borders.   He insisted that the United States and European Union, "have entrusted themselves to the devil."

The evil one has control of Israel, too. Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “appears to be possessed by the devil … He needs Pope Francis to exorcise it, to become appeased.”

That may not work.  Apparently, Pope Francis is also thought to be the devil in some quarters.

Nor are these folks the only targets of such calumny.

How about George W. Bush?  He was called the devil by then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during a United Nations’ presentation.  “Yesterday, the devil came here,” Chávez said, a snide reference to Bush’s appearance before the General Assembly the day before. “Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.”

Then there's capitalist and environmentalist Tom Steyer, the Democratic Party’s billionaire donor, who was identified as the devil at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Maryland's National Harbor.

Such claims invariably touch a large percentage of the population.  According to a 2013 survey, “a majority of Americans, especially Republicans, blacks and women,” embrace the idea of the devil.   

Count Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia among that group.  In 2013, he said, “I even believe in the devil. Yeah, he’s a real person. In the Gospels, the devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs; he’s possessing people and whatnot. What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.”

Not surprisingly, a small group of Republicans have been touting Scalia as a possible compromise Republican presidential candidate.

He’ll just have to remember not to stand in front of the Cross Hall curtain.  People could get the wrong impression.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His most recent book is Passover in Prison, which details abuse of Jewish inmates in American prisons.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at

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