(Photo: Mars Hill Church via The Christian Post)
Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., is facing a flurry of backlash following his controversial tweet about President Barack Obama on Jan. 21, Inauguration Day.
As Obama prepared to be sworn into office for the beginning of his second term as president, Driscoll posted on his Twitter page: "Praying for our president, who today will place his hands on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."
The tweet has since gained a great deal of controversy; it has been retweeted 3,181 times as of Tuesday morning, and been "liked" nearly 10,000 times when it was posted on Facebook.
Many Christian leaders, however, are saying that the tweet is insensitive and does not reflect a proper Christian attitude.
President Obama has confessed on many occasions to being a Christian, and often quotes Scripture in his public remarks.
"Disgustingly un-Christian comment by Pastor Mark Driscoll. Shame!" wrote the Rev. Sandy Brown, senior minister at the Seattle First United Methodist Church, according to Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"If Driscoll thinks that Obama doesn't believe the Bible but he does, then Driscoll clearly has not read the Bible in full or carefully," added Dr. James McGrath, the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind.
"President Obama has shown himself to be aware of – issues related to the Bible's diverse contents, and inspired by some of its core principles – even if also failing to live up to others of them, as we all do," Goodwin added.
Jay Bakker, co-founder of Revolution Church in Arizona and pastor of its NYC congregation, responded directly to Driscoll's tweet by writing: "Please rethink this, it's wrong on so many levels..."
Jamal Bryant, Pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, Md., tweeted: "Please congratulate @PastorMark who just took the place of St. Peter judging knows God or has read the Bible!"
Eugene Cho, the founding and lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, was more deliberative in his criticism. "To UFC or not UFC over that Driscoll tweet, that is the question – especially on MLK Day," he wrote.
Popular atheist bloggers also gave their view on the comment, with Hemant Mehta from the Friendly Atheist blog noting in strong terms, "I can't tell if that's more or less demeaning than flat-out calling him a Muslim…"
Justin Dean, a spokesperson for Pastor Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, responded via email to The Christian Post's request for a comment to reactions to Driscoll's tweet.
"At this time we don't have any additional comments to make," Dean wrote.
Some responses, however, were criticized for going too far, such as a tweet from Shaun King, founder and CEO of HopeMob, a social networking movement for charity and community development.
King tweeted, "@PastorMark kiss my Christian *** for saying that. How dare you pass such an ugly judgment on him. He knows God & prays more than daily."
"Hey @PastorMark," King tweeted again a few minutes later, "(You) are the most ugly, harsh & judgmental excuse (for) a Christian I know. How dare (you) judge the sincerity of the President's faith!"
"I get the whole 'upset at what Driscoll just said' thing, but how does your response make you any better than him?" asked a commenter in response to King's post.
"I agree w/ @jakedudley. @shaunking you may not agree w/ @pastormark but the way & the language you chose to use reflects nothing better," added Jon Nelson, Associate Pastor at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo.
King, whose comments continued for a while, eventually explained that he was outraged at Driscoll's questioning of President Obama's faith and said that he let his emotions get the best of him.