Religion professor takes on political “Biblespeak” in new “Huffington Post” blog

It should come as no surprise that not every word that rolls off the tongue of a politician is completely accurate. Much of it is, of course, but some of it isn’t—and who can keep track? That’s where Timothy Beal comes in.

Beal, the Florence Harkness Professor of Religion, recently launched his biweekly “BibliFact” on The Huffington Post, where he takes political figures to task for their “Biblespeak.”

Inspired by, which measures the truth of politicians’ statements in general, Beal’s BibliFact looks at recent examples of politicians referencing the Bible and analyzes their truth quotient, ranging from five Bibles (completely accurate) to one Bible (untrue)—or even “fire & brimstone worthy” (off-the-charts levels of inaccuracy).

“Most of us don’t know biblical literature well enough to know whether such talk is accurate, fair, reasonable, a matter of interpretation, wrong or straight out misleading. So we feel flummoxed, and mostly just try to ignore it,” Beal explained. “I want to give people access to what they need to know to check out these Bibletalkers for themselves.”

These “Bibletalkers” come from both parties, including President Barack Obama and former Republican candidate Rick Santorum, and they could be found at any level. Beal said he hopes he can find more examples in local and statewide races, especially the ones that garner national attention. (Or he’d like his students to help him find them—he’s offering extra credit to anyone in his Introduction to Biblical Literature course who provides a solid lead.)

But, Beal noted, the purpose of BibliFact isn’t just to highlight the inaccurate statements of politicians or even to just explain to the average person why certain references are untrue. Instead, he hopes to highlight traditions found in biblical literature.

“The Bible is really way more interesting—and strange—than it sounds when most of these politicians are spouting it,” he said. “So I also see this BibliFact venture as an opportunity to discover for ourselves how wonderfully strange and fascinating biblical traditions can be.”

Beal’s latest BibliFact roundup is available on The Huffington Post at He started blogging for The Huffington Post in 2011.