Politico Magazine rebuked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for using “Republican” Scripture from the Bible to shine God’s wisdom on his constituents on social media.
Politico’s biblical scholar, Joel S. Baden, who is also an associate professor of the Old Testament at the Yale Divinity School, wrote a piece titled “Marco Rubio Is Tweeting the Most Republican Part of the Bible” in an attempt to convince readers that some parts of the Bible – especially the book of Proverbs – is Republican by nature.
“Each day, the Florida senator is quoting a verse from Proverbs – the GOP’s favorite part of the book … Why?” Baden posed on Politico. “Marco Rubio had a message for his nearly 3 million Twitter followers on the morning of June 26: ‘As dogs return to their vomit, so fools repeat their folly.’ Proverbs 26:11. That one might have been his most head-snapping, but Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, had been tweeting verses like that one since May 16. He has tweeted a biblical verse almost every day since then. Almost all of them come from the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Proverbs.”
Proverbs being exploited by Republicans?
He apparently had a problem with Rubio appealing to biblical morality and instilling a sense of responsibility in his Twitter followers – ideals held by the Right that those on the Left often see as threatening their way of life. He then made a sweeping generalization about Proverbs that is problematic – at best.
“Proverbs is notable in that is presents a fairly consistent view of the world: The righteous are rewarded, and the wicked are punished,” Baden pointed out. “In the understanding of Proverbs, everyone gets what is coming to them; behavior is directly linked to reward or punishment. This worldview has social consequences: Those who succeed in life must be more righteous than those who struggle.”
The Yale scholar went on to cite other Republican politicians’ stances on issues while noting their similarity to teachings from Proverbs, which he dubbed as the Bible’s most Republican book.
“Some of the statements in Proverbs look strikingly similar to those made by modern-day conservative policymakers,” Baden asserted. “Take, for example, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who, arguing that poorer people should pay more for healthcare, recently said, ‘Those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy.’ It’s not quite a direct quote from Proverbs, but it’s not too far from these: ‘The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,’ (Proverbs 10:3) and ‘A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich,’ (Proverbs 10:4). In short: Proverbs is probably the most Republican book of the entire Bible.”
Use another book?
Baden then appeared to take on the role as Rubio’s political and biblical advisor, instructing him to use other books from the Bible that are more in line with Democrats’ views regarding the distribution of income.
“Baden accused Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) of using ‘confirmation bias’ to justify his conservative worldview, since he has been tweeting several Proverbs quotes in recent weeks,” Townhall reported. “He would be better served, Baden said, by quoting Ecclesiastes or the New Testament, which does not sound as favorable to the wealthy.”
The Ivy League professor attempted to make it look as though Rubio did not have a full grasp of the meaning behind Proverbs, which he said mainly deals with how to live a righteous life.
“Just this past July 5, Rubio tweeted, ‘They will die from lack of discipline, lost because of their great folly, (Proverbs 5:23),” Baden noted. “Of course, it’s not all diligence and righteousness – in Proverbs, faith in God, too, will keep you away from things like poverty and failure. On June 16, Rubio tweeted, ‘Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
To prove his point that Proverbs is the book of Republicans, the profesor mentioned other GOP members who quote and live by it.
“Other Republicans appear to have a thing for Proverbs, too,” Baden stressed. “Ben Carson, during the 2016 presidential campaign, compared himself favorably to the blustery style of then-candidate Donald Trump by quoting Proverbs 22:4: ‘By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.’ Gerald Ford’s favorite Bible passage was Proverbs 3:5–6: ‘Trust wholeheartedly in Yahweh [the Lord], put no faith in your own perception; in every course you take, have him in mind: He will see that your paths are smooth.’ Ford repeated this when he served in the Navy during World War II, throughout his presidency and in his swearing-in.”
The progressive-minded professor then pointed to President Donald Trump to prove his case that Proverbs is the book of Republicans.
“Trump likes the idea of Proverbs – even if he doesn’t know much about the text itself,” Baden continued. “Back in September 2015, Trump claimed, in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, that among the biblical verses he most appreciated was ‘Proverbs, the chapter ‘never bend to envy.’ I’ve had that thing all my life, where people are bending to envy.’ This would have been a more effective citation if there were such a line anywhere in the book of Proverbs. (His interviewer later told the Washington Post, not entirely persuasively, that Trump was referring to Proverbs 24:1-2: ‘Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.’)”
Rubio strikes back
After Baden’s critique of Rubio’s extensive use of Proverbs was brought to his attention, the former Republican presidential candidate responded with humor.
“Proverbs is the Republican part of the Bible?” Rubio jokingly asked in a Sunday tweet. “I don't think Solomon had yet joined the GOP when he wrote the first 29 chapters of Proverbs.”
Defying Baden’s advice to curb his use of Proverbs on social media, Rubio took to Twitter again the next day with another Proverb – this one aimed directly at the Left-leaning biblical scholar.
“Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but those who restrain their lips do well, Proverbs 10:19,” the conservative Florida politician posted Monday on Twitter.
Even though most Christians and conservatives have appreciated Rubio’s use of Proverbs in his governing style and tweets, some leaning toward the Left objected to his use of God’s wisdom to lead the American people.
“When Rubio first started posting Bible verses to Twitter, there were some negative reactions, which Rubio described as a ‘Twitter freak out,’" The Christian Post reported. “One political blogger called the Bible verses ‘oddly terrifying.’"