109th Psalm 'Obama Prayer': Threat or Free Speech?

Florida sheriff's deputy suspended over Bible passage left for co-worker.

January 4, 2011, 1:21 PM

Jan. 4, 2010— -- When Sergeant Martha Nash reported for duty at the Manatee County, Fla., Sheriff's Office on Sept. 29, she said she found her copy of the New Testament lying on the desk with a peculiar note sticking out from inside.

"The Obama Prayer," it read, in an unrecognizable, handwritten scrawl.

But when Nash looked to the relevant passage, circled with a pink highlighter, she said she was shocked by what it said. The text seemed to suggest that whoever left it wanted President Obama dead.

"Let his days be few, and let another take his office," reads the eighth verse of Psalm 109. "Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow."

The incident and Nash's account, provided to ABC News, is detailed in an internal Sheriff's Office summary of an investigation into the incident. The U.S. Secret Service said it was not involved in the case.

Sgt. Matthew Neu, who was known to oppose Obama politically, told investigators he received an e-mail referencing a bumper sticker with Psalm 109 and the "Obama prayer," then left the Bible and note on Nash's desk.

In sworn testimony, Neu told investigators that he did not have malicious intent towards Obama nor purposefully left the message on the desk of Sgt. Nash.

"In hindsight, maybe it wasn't the smart thing to do, you know. I should have been more careful where I left it or, or whatever," Neu told investigators, according to the report.

Neu was suspended for 26 hours without pay for violating professional standards. He declined to comment on the matter when reached by ABC News, and the Sheriff's office has declined a request for an interview.

The 109th Psalm has become a rallying cry over the past two years for opponents of President Obama who want him out of office.

Bumper stickers and t-shirts have appeared for sale online with slogans "Pray for Obama" and references to verses from the 109th Psalm.

The use of the biblical language has sparked debate over its intentions; whether the wish that his "days are few" is a benign and genuine prayer that Obama not win another term, or, reflects a more sinister desire that Obama die in office, leaving "his children fatherless and his wife a widow."

The U.S. Secret Service would not comment on whether the 109th Psalm has surfaced in any investigations of threats against President Obama.

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