Prior to President Donald Trump’s rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday, his wife, Melania Trump, read “The Lord’s Prayer.” In the time since, she has been bashed exhaustively for it — for the reading, for the perceived intent for reading it, how she read it. The attacks, predominantly on Twitter but elsewhere as well, were political, religious, and personal. And they were legion.
Fox News branded the social media attackers of Melania Trump’s recitation of “The Lord’s Prayer” as “leftists,” but a quick survey of the widespread bashing of the First Lady indicates that actual political bent is not that easy to determine, although animosity toward her husband, his policies, and his month-old administration seems to be the underlying driver of the collective narrative. So assuming that the attacks were from a more liberal crowd could be viewed as a safe assumption. Unfortunately, regardless of ideology, attacks often veered sharply from simple political commentary or judgmental observations to ad hominem attacks on Melania Trump, some going so far as to label the First Lady a whore.
Fox News Channel‘s Fox & Friends cheekily wondered how anyone could find fault with the reading, setting up a segment where they read postings from the Twitter “troll universe” that disparaged Melania Trump’s prayer offering. One in particular criticized the First Lady for reading something so simple and questioned her Christianity.
As The Blaze noted, atheists were among those slamming the reading as well. One post (although the poster may not necessarily be atheist, although he self-describes as “no longer religious”) in particular echoed the seeming difficulty of reading of “The Lord’s Prayer.” “Though she only recited one of the most often recited prayers in all of history, liberals and atheists were just beside themselves.”
Said Douglas Young on Twitter, “I’m no longer religious, but I found Melania Trump’s struggle to read the Lord’s Pray pretty damned disgusting.”
I'm no longer religious, but I found Melania Trump's struggle to read through the Lord's Prayer pretty damned disgusting.
— Douglas Young (@douglas_young) February 19, 2017
Young’s use of the term “struggle” appears to point to the First Lady’s heavy accent or that she had to read “The Lord’s Prayer” (as The Blaze noted, it is “one of the most recited prayers in all of history”) from a written prompt — or both –was what he found offensive, but it should be noted that she is from Slovenia (in what was once Yugoslavia, a region that is predominantly Catholic) and may not be as familiar with “The Lord’s Prayer” as most Americans. In fact, the First Lady’s exact religious affiliations and beliefs are unclear, although it is assumed by most that she is a Christian. Besides, given that Donald Trump’s rallies are usually comprised of white male Christians, the reading was likely decided upon by a political aide as a nod to the constituency. Melania Trump’s reading simply became part of her husband’s introduction.
Then there were those who cried foul due to the “separation of church and state” clause of the Constitution. Kelly Watson posted, “Will someone please educate Melania and the Republicans about separation of church and state@realDonaldTrump, @reisist”.
Will someone please educate Melania and the Republicans about separation of church and state@realDonaldTrump, @resist
— Kelly Watson (@grateful84) February 18, 2017
Watson might need a bit of education as well, given that the “separation of church and state” has everything to do the government not making laws abrogating the freedom of religious practices. Although it is often assumed that politics and religion are separate by Constitutional Law (and where people get the idea that there should be no commingling of politics and religion), the actual wording itself does not make that clear. Where the battle lines have been drawn traditionally is in maintaining a distinction to ensure that political or government influence cannot be used in a way that might infringe upon the individual right of freedom of religion.
In other words, some see Melania Trump’s reading of “The Lord’s Prayer” as a breach of the separation clause. Others see it as her right as an individual to freely express herself (constitutionally guaranteed free speech) and her constitutionally protected religious beliefs.
It could be argue that all the bashing and slamming of President Trump’s wife was indulgent and a bit like the targeted bullying of which the president is often accused. In fact, almost in opposition to Donald Trump’s abusive and rather mean-spirited attacks against his opponents and critics and just about anyone who doesn’t share his opinion, the First Lady stated in a campaign speech, CNN reported, in Philadelphia shortly before the election that one of her missions if her husband was elected was to embark on a mission to combat cyberbullying, due to its “negativity” and the harmful effects upon society — and especially upon children — she saw in its social media ubiquity. She said she wanted to work on ways to improve a social media culture that was “too mean and too tough” and too often full of insults based on “looks and intelligence”.
The First Lady knows of which she speaks and has been a constant target of social media and those that use it to castigate, undermine, and insult. She has absented herself from social media for just that reason.
But as to Melania Trump’s reading of “The Lord’s Prayer” and introducing her husband at the Florida rally, she followed the recitation by defending President Trump’s work in his first month as the nation’s leader and assured the audience that she would be supportive and “act in the best interest of all of you” (per Raw Story). Having chosen to not live in Washington and follow a non-traditional path as the wife of a sitting president, she had undergone considerable scrutiny and criticism as to he commitment both as the First Lady, to her husband, and to the administration he conducts.
Melania Trump told the crowd, which reacted to her with cheers and applause throughout (including the reading of “The Lord’s Prayer”), in words meant for her critics, “I’m committed to creating and supporting initiatives dear to my heart which will have impact on women, and children all around the world.”
[Featured Image by Chris O’Meara/AP Images]