Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is offended that President Barack Obama quoted scripture to make the case for a fairer tax policy.
Speaking to a group of mostly-conservative politicians at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, the president proved that conservatives do not have a monopoly on using religion to advocate for specific public policies.
“And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe at a time when folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income or young people with student loans or middle class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone,” Obama explained. “And I think to myself, if I am willing to give something up as someone who has been extraordinarily blessed, give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy — I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.”
“But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,” the president added.
Only a few hours later, Hatch, who normally favors co-mingling government and religion, was on the floor of the Senate expressing outrage at the president for using the Bible to make a point.
“Just this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, the president took what has always been a non-partisan opportunity for national unity and used to promote his political agenda,” Hatch complained. “He suggested to the attendees that Jesus would have supported his latest tax-the-rich schemes. With due respect to the president, he ought to stick to public policy. I think most Americans would agree that the Gospels are concerned with weightier matters than effective tax rates.”
“In 2008, the president declared that his nomination was the world historical moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” Hatch recalled.
“Someone needs to remind the president that there was only one person who walked on water, and he did not occupy the Oval Office.”
Hatch, however, has made the case for religion in public policy when it suits his needs.
During a Republican presidential debate in 2000, the senator from Utah declared, “if I had my way, I’d have a silent prayer reflection constitutional amendment that would give kids a moment of silent prayer reflection at the beginning of every school day.”
He has also leaned on the Bible to make the case against gay rights.
“It’s a religious belief to me that homosexuality flies in the face of biblical teachings,” Hatch, who is Mormon, told The Salt Lake Tribune in 1999.