These words in the title were used to describe how the Bible has become a symbol of a certain brand of American politics. That remark got me to thinking about the etymology of the word “prop”. To prop is to support something. In a theatrical context a prop is a symbol or an object required in the scenario of the performance.
But is the Bible not a prop. Doesn’t it support something, a religious concept. Of course it does, but the exact concept being supported is confused at best. Anyone paying attention has to see the diametrically different beliefs which people try to support from the same Bible.
And this makes the Bible a very popular and longstanding political prop. With little effort politicians all across the political spectrum can claim the Bible as their guide book. Extremists on the left or the right and nearly everyone in between love to embrace a supportive view of the Bible and claim
the support of our national religion in the process. Everyone knows that walking around carrying a Bible or even better reading and quoting it is the mark of righteousness.
It is sad when the Bible is cynically used to promote secular activities like businesses and politics by simply waving it about. It happens all too often in our society.
The real problem with using the Bible in any context is the way we have been taught to use it, as a weapon and as an idol. Respect for the Bible, separate and apart from any serious study of it and subsequent understanding of its counter intuitiveness, has turned our religious attention away from God and toward the men and women who lead the institutional church. Those leaders, in turn, have turned our attention away from the persuasive message of love which Jesus taught and turned the church into an ally of cynical politicians.
So the Bible is definitely a prop, but what is being propped up by it may or may not be worth supporting or even consistent with gist of the prop.