What started as an attempt to be “funny” has led to an investigation and suspension without pay for a Florida sheriff’s deputy who labeled a passage of Scripture as “the Obama prayer.”
Sgt. Matthew Neu of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office had left a Bible behind on a co-worker’s desk with a note designating Psalm 109 as “the Obama prayer,” according to an internal-affairs investigation reported by the Bradenton Herald.
Psalms 109:8 reads, “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.”
The co-worker, a sergeant who discovered the note, took offense when she learned the passage was not supportive of the president, fearing instead the prayer constituted a threat against Obama’s life.
According to the investigation report, after she read the psalm, “she thought whoever left it wanted Obama dead, that the supporting verses underneath verse 8, [which were] highlighted, confirm that.”
The psalm goes on to read, “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.”
Neu denied that he was threatening the president, telling investigators, “In hindsight maybe it was not the smart thing to do, you know, I should have been more careful where I left it, or whatever.”
Neu further told investigators that he had received “the Obama prayer” joke in an email and had passed it on, admitting, “he thought it was funny, even though maybe it was not in good taste.”
According to the Herald, the internal-affairs investigation uncovered a history of political attitudes and pranks around the office. Another sergeant reported Neu had said negative things about Obama during the election, and Neu reported his co-workers had swapped in a photo of Obama on his computer’s screensaver about the same time.
Neu reportedly told investigators of the Bible he left behind, “It’s not a threat on the president. It was a joke on the Internet that I just happened to circle and go through ’cause I was gonna show people. … There’s no racial hate or anything like that involved in it. Do I like Obama as a president? No.”
The Herald reports Neu was disciplined for violating sheriff’s office guidelines for conduct unbecoming.
Psalm 109 is a prayer of David complaining about the “wicked and deceitful” who have falsely accused him “with words of hatred.” David asks that God would punish the evildoers by making their days “few” and then cries out for deliverance.