CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Quite a snark is billowing in some Republican circles about Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's inaugural speech and whether he wrongly attributed to "an old Baptist preacher" the words of Jesus Christ from the New Testament. Now everybody who grew up in the hill country knows Baptists love to quote the Bible -- especially Southern Baptist Convention ministers -- so it is not unreasonable that Strickland at some point in his life actually did hear a man of the cloth say: "Get thee behind me, Satan."
Strickland, himself an ordained United Methodist minister, probably could have heard some union guys sing it, too. And bluegrass bands still play a song by the same name.
This is what appears on Right Angle Blog (which I really enjoy and find quite illuminating) in a slam aimed at Strickland: "Strickland today said: 'To the cynics who say it can't be done, I say, in the words of the old Baptist preacher: Get thee behind me Satan. It wasn’t a Baptist preacher, it was Jesus of Nazareth, recorded in Mark 8:33. So, was it: 1) a sign of his lack of understanding, like (Democrat Chairman Howard) Dean, who, when asked to identify his favorite New Testament book, said, “Job” or 2) was Strickland afraid to quote Jesus before all his liberal pro-abortion pro-gay friends?"
Cheap shot? I have Appalachian ties, just like the governor, and I've heard Protestant preachers of the hardshell and softshell varieties, along with Roman Catholic priests, roar out that phrase since . . . well, a long time. I have even heard it sung in churches from a hymn that might have been from the tune by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, both big liberals and perhaps commies, though never proven.
However, here's an example of a real Baptist preacher using the phrase in a Baptist publication: "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.Luke 4:8. Are you a practicing Christian, faithfully worshiping and serving God? Just like Satan offered Jesus the opportunity for great power, we are sometimes tempted to seek power over servanthood or the easy way over the way of the cross."
-- From the Fall 2006 issue of Open Windows published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Devotions for the week of October 2-8 are by Bill Tanner, retired executive director-treasurer, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He is a member of First Baptist Church, Belton, Texas." Notice that Mr. Tanner is retired -- which suggests he is old -- though his age is not reported.
More about Woody and Pete are here here> from their days in the 1940s with the Almanac Singers. Can't say how religious they were. But they sure knew how to sing a great song and raise hell.