pageok
pageok
pageok
Former Leader of the Southern Baptist Convention

calls the faithful to pray for the death of the people who filed an IRS complaint against him.

Here's the press release, from Wiley Drake:

In light of the recent attack from the enemies of God I ask the children of God to go into action with Imprecatory Prayer. Especially against Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I made an attempt to go to them via Matt 18:15 but they refused to talk to me. Specifically target Joe Conn or Jeremy Learing. They are those who lead the attack. (You can see their press release attack at www.au.org ) ...

Now that all efforts have been exhausted, we must begin our Imprecatory Prayer, at the key points of the parliamentary role in the earth where we live.

John Calvin gave the church its marching orders from Scripture. The righteous have dominion, but only through imprecatory prayer against the ungodly.

David as our Old Testament shepherd gives us many Imprecatory prayers, and can be found to be in best focus in Psalm 109. Also chapters 55, 58, 68, 69, and 83

Pray these back to God and He will answer.

Jesus in Matthew 23: 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 27, and 29 gave us our New Testament marching orders as well.

Let us join Paul and declare anathema upon anyone" who loves not the Lord Jesus." I Cor 16:22

Church father Martin Luther, led us by saying…"If any of the enemies of God's people belong to God's election, the church's prayer against them giveth way to their conversion, and seeketh no more than that the judgment should follow them, only until they acknowledge their sin, turn, and seek God." ...

Psalm 109 says, among other things,
Let his days be few;
and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless,
and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg:
let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath;
and let the strangers spoil his labor.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him:
neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
Let his posterity be cut off;
and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
Drake echoes this in a quote in an L.A. Times story:
Drake said Wednesday he was "simply doing what God told me to do" by targeting Americans United officials Joe Conn and Jeremy Leaming, whom he calls the "enemies of God."

"God says to pray imprecatory prayer against people who attack God's church," he said. "The Bible says that if anybody attacks God's people, David said this is what will happen to them. . . . Children will become orphans and wives will become widows."

More in this EthicsDaily post by Brian Kaylor, a former pastor and "communications specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri"; Kaylor reports on an interview he had with Drake, who is quoted as saying: "If they think it's 'outlandish,' it doesn't surprise me.... They're ungodly, un-scriptural, not even Christians.... They have no reverence for the Word of God.... And if they think it's 'outlandish,' don't blame me, I didn't write it, God did.... It really doesn't matter what my words are ... What matters is what does God's Word say? God's Word says if they continue to attack God's people, God will cause their children to become orphans and their wives to become widows. I didn't say that, God did."

Incidentally, the Americans United complaint seems to be that Drake endorsed Republican Mike Huckabee for President using church resources, which were bought using funds derived from tax-exempt donations. As I wrote in an earlier post, organizations to which donations are tax-deductible (so-called 501(c)(3)s) -- including religious organizations, as well as many other nonprofits -- aren't allowed to expressly support or oppose the election of candidates, and are limited in their lobbying for the enactment of legislation. General public education, including advocacy, is fine, but not electioneering or (too much) lobbying; if they want to do that, they need to set up arms that collect non-tax-deductible donations (so-called 501(c)(4)s, as opposed to the 501(c)(3)s).

The Court has upheld this scheme against First Amendment challenge, reasoning that tax exemptions for contributions are a form of subsidy, and the government can impose restrictions on what this subsidy is used for, so long as they are viewpoint-neutral (i.e., no electioneering would be fine, no electioneering in favor of racist candidates would not be). Of course, there are often difficulties in deciding what's forbidden express support or opposition and what's permitted education and advocacy; the IRS has new guidance on the electioneering side of the question.

There are sensible arguments against imposing these limits on the use of tax-exempt funds, given that the tax exemption for charitable deductions is allowed to subsidize a wide range of other private speech, including highly ideological speech, and given the difficulties of drawing lines between permissible education and impermissible lobbying and electioneering. Nonetheless, it's important to recall that speakers -- including pastors -- remain free to express their views about candidates and legislation so long as they use their own money, or 501(c)(4) money.

And, more importantly, whatever one thinks of the rights and wrongs of the tax code as applied in this situation, calling for divine retribution -- apparently including death, and condemnation of children to being "continually vagabonds, and beg[gars]" -- strikes me as a little excessive.

Many thanks to Paul Caron (TaxProf Blog) for the pointer; he has more links.

Hattio (mail):
That's kind of funny coming on the heels of the post highlighting the differences between fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Christian.

Please note; I'm not saying there's not a difference. Clearly, stoning somebody to death and praying that they die are radically different. But I do find it funny.
8.21.2007 4:27pm
tvk:
Can it be assault to threaten divine retribution against an atheist? Presumably, the defendant cannot argue that he believed the threat would not manifest, but the plaintiff cannot argue that he believed that it would.
8.21.2007 4:36pm
Jeff R.:
If you sincerely believe that imprecatory prayers will work, can you be charged with attempted murder or conspiracy? (one doesn't think a free exercise argument could intervene here)

Are there any successful prosecutions of people using other religious frameworks (say, voudoun) to draw down death-curses, for that matter?
8.21.2007 4:40pm
DJR:
Wouldn't this be a good place for a Eugene Volokh-esqe statement to the effect of: "Those who call on others to pray for the death of their enemies should be condemned."?

Saying this is "a little excessive" seems to me to be more than a little understated.
8.21.2007 4:44pm
TruePath (mail) (www):

Nonetheless, it's important to recall that speakers -- including pastors -- remain free to express their views about candidates and legislation so long as they use their own money, or 501(c)(4) money.


At least from the linked 'guidance' this seems to be only true in theory not in practice for ministers. The page very clearly indicates that even when explicitly presenting one's own views paid in a privately funded fashion you still violate the tax exempt status issue if you speak in an official capacity, e.g., the university president sending out the newsletter (situation 4.

At least on the face this seems to totally preclude ministers from telling their congregation that god prefers canidate X as any such statement would be made in their official capacity as a minister. Now maybe you are going to quibble that somehow public statements about matters of faith don't necessarily constitute official communications by the church. I think this is implausible but even so there is a serious problem here.

Suppose that the pope was based in the US and wished to make an ex cathedra statement about some canidate being evil/preferable. By the nature of the catholic religious faith he can only make a statement with this sort of significance when he is speaking in his official capacity. Now I only use catholicism here as an example because as a former catholic I'm familiar with it but I suspect there are a fair number of religious faiths that distinguish official proclamations of their holy leaders (mormons?, muslims?, jews?) from private comments by them.

Given this situation I don't see how these laws could possibly not violate the separation of church and state. Even if you view the tax exemptions as government contributions this doesn't resolve the issue. The government couldn't offer substantial financial support to all and only those churches who didn't officially deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. Nor does this rule avoid that problem by being content neutral as it most certainly is NOT content neutral. Certain sorts of religious belief (those that endorse particular candidates for office) are penalized based on their content.
8.21.2007 4:45pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Would God be an unindicted co-conspirator?
8.21.2007 4:54pm
Paddy O. (mail):
I don't agree with the pastor. Not at all. Not least because of the turn the other cheek, and love your enemies kinds of statements that a smart fellow made a while back.

However, how is calling for divine retribution necessarily a unique evil?

The Americans United are calling on governmental retribution against Drake. Surely that is, even if justified, more palpable of an attack than a prayer. Drake is calling on a "higher" court to adjudicate. Both are making claims according to a notion of justice and both seek the punishment of the other. American's United are doing it in a way that will almost certainly cause more immediate harm.

But, I think if Drake really was faithful he'd drop the whole tax-exempt status all together. Tax exemption has long been a crutch on religious institutions. If Drake wants to give to God what he feels he should give to God then Drake should start giving to Caesar what is Caesar's.

Then he could use the letterhead in whatever way he wants.

On a sidenote, and in regard to a comment in the previous religion thread, I remembered Drake's name because he had a conflict with his city about homeless sleeping on church property. Drake fought for the rights of the homeless. So he might be a bit overboard here but he is, in many ways, consistent across the board in his faith.
8.21.2007 4:58pm
NickM (mail) (www):
How would you prove that the pillar of salt used to be the victim?

Nick
8.21.2007 5:00pm
rarango (mail):
What a nut case--With respect to 501C3s generally, I suspect that many more than just the Southern Baptists have violated the proscription against lobbying or political advocacy.
8.21.2007 5:00pm
Ella:
Of course, Americans United isn't calling for Drake's children to be fatherless and wives to be widowed, so . . .

More seriously, he won't drop the tax exempt status. Churches and, more importantly, their pastors have become too dependent on it. If he drops it, he'd probably also lose the tax subsidy for his housing costs.
8.21.2007 5:01pm
Dave Wangen (mail):

The Americans United are calling on governmental retribution against Drake. Surely that is, even if justified, more palpable of an attack than a prayer.


That's one way to look at it. Of course, you could also consider it as not an attack but "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" - that is, if your church money is going to be involved in politics, it needs to cough up it's share to the IRS.
8.21.2007 5:04pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Suppose that the pope was based in the US and wished to make an ex cathedra statement about some canidate being evil/preferable.'

That was, in fact, a nearly universal supposition of Southern Baptists. My grandfather, an Episcopalian layman who married an Italian Catholic, got involved in negotiations between the Bishop of Savannah and the Grand Dragon of the Georgia Ku Klux Klan in order to disabuse the Dragon of his belief that there was a tunnel from the Vatican to America, by which the pope would come to America if Al Smith were elected president in order to tell Smith how to govern.

I am not making any of this up. As late as 1962, I was solemnly assured by Southern Baptist acquaintances that the tunnel still existed and connected to the episcopal residence in Atlanta.
8.21.2007 5:05pm
TomH (mail):
As I see it, the gospels do not call for imprecatory prayers. Old testament, yes. God was a bad dude back then, slaughter the innocents and all that. Once Jesus rolled along, it is all sweetness and light.

The Matthew citations aren't freindly, but they do not call down God's wrath on the pharisees, as in a prayer for relief from them. The passage just calls them bad names. Even the Christ could wake upon the wrong side of the bed once in a while.
8.21.2007 5:25pm
mythago (mail):
God was a bad dude back then, slaughter the innocents and all that. Once Jesus rolled along, it is all sweetness and light.

Hello. Book of Revelations, anyone?
8.21.2007 5:29pm
Waldensian (mail):
I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that God is, in all likelihood, imaginary.
8.21.2007 5:36pm
TomH (mail):
Aha, but to avoid the wrath of God per Revelations, one is supposed to be a nice, 10 Commandments following, turn the other cheek kind of person. Kinda like Iesu Eucharistos himself (sorry if that's bad greek).

In the end it all falls apart and God reverts to form, but in the meantime, during this New Testament era, neither the Lord, nor the Lord, or even the Lord, in any of His tripartite wholeness, is advocating imprecatory prayers. Doing that might forfeit your ticket to the Rapture.

Paul does it, but feh, he is a gentile interloper more interested in politics than polemics.
8.21.2007 5:38pm
Happyshooter:
So sending the .gov to punish someone for their faith is cool, but asking God to punish the narcs is not?
8.21.2007 5:43pm
Waldensian (mail):

during this New Testament era, neither the Lord, nor the Lord, or even the Lord, in any of His tripartite wholeness, is advocating imprecatory prayers.

Awesome.
8.21.2007 5:46pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Waldensian,

I am not comforted by the fact that God is, in all likelihood, imaginary because it means that a large segment of humanity has spent a large part of human history acting extremely foolish with no end in sight.
8.21.2007 6:01pm
Jam:
As long as the prayer's answer is not by human means.

A bonafide Church do not have to incorporate under 501C3 to be tax exempt. Why churches incorporate? Ignorance and fear. But when they incorporate the put themselves under Caesar's "protection." Churches must send letters of dissolution to the appropiate authority and reclaim the title of Churches and drop the title of "charitable organization."

Be careful of the deals you make. You will be held to them.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/...r=9&version=31
8.21.2007 6:02pm
Jam:
As someone remarked, if need be, then we Christians must be willing to forgo the "tax exempt" and dissolve the corporation to be free of Caesar.

I am not betting that many Churches wil do it.
8.21.2007 6:09pm
Colin (mail):
As late as 1962, I was solemnly assured by Southern Baptist acquaintances that the tunnel still existed and connected to the episcopal residence in Atlanta.

That's insane. The pope would put his tunnel in Atlanta. Come on, Georgia? The tunnel used to come out in Boston, but even His Holiness won't deal with the big dig traffic. They were going to detour to Green Bay, but I think they rerouted it to Ave Maria, FL.
8.21.2007 6:13pm
Colin (mail):
Excuse me - "the pope would [never] put his tunnel in Atlanta."
8.21.2007 6:13pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Waldensian:

I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that God is, in all likelihood, imaginary.

God is probably comforted, too: think of the responsibility!
8.21.2007 6:15pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
"the pope would [never] put his tunnel in Atlanta."

I think you're right. I looked for it and didn't find it, although really I was just trying to get a young lady into the bushes.
8.21.2007 6:21pm
Elliot123 (mail):
If god is going to smite the enemies as the pastor says, why bother to pray? Can't we all just sit back and watch?
8.21.2007 6:22pm
Jam:
"why bother to pray?" It depends as to what you think is the purpose of a prayer?
8.21.2007 6:28pm
David M. Nieporent (www):

Hello. Book of Revelations, anyone?
Revelation.
8.21.2007 6:29pm
MacGuffin:
Paul does it, but feh, he is a gentile interloper...

Since when is "an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day" a Gentile? Being an Apostle to the Gentiles does not necessarily make one a Gentile himself.
8.21.2007 6:31pm
The Cabbage:
I am reminded that early Christians took the time to pray for the Roman Emperors that persecuted them.

Pet Theory: This sort of stuff is what happens when you let Sola Scriptura run the show.
8.21.2007 6:33pm
Ken Arromdee:
If you already think God decides when and where to kill people, praying to God to kill someone isn't a stretch. It's not as if there's a chance he'll be killed unjustly--you're asking God to use his own judgment, and God doesn't make mistakes. In fact, your prayer can't even make his death more likely, since God, being all-knowing, would already consider any argument you might make.

Or look at it this way: If you pray for someone's death, either:
-- there's no God, and nobody gets hurt
-- there's a God, but the guy doesn't deserve to die, and nobody gets hurt
-- there's a God, and the guy does deserve to die, in which case someone dies, but then, he deserves it.

It's impossible to hurt an innocent person with a prayer for someone's death. This makes it very much unlike actually shooting him yourself, or even wanting to shoot him yourself. It may be worth trying to put into words exactly why we find it so contemptible to pray for someone's death, given the general understanding of how God is supposed to operate and how he always does the right thing, even when killing.

(This ignores cases like "God exists, is evil, and zaps people if you ask him to." I suppose you could argue that praying for someone's death is reckless because of that possibility.)

Of course, the same is true for normal prayers. If you pray for someone to get well, do you really think that you could ever convince God to act differently than he would without the prayer?

I think the unspoken worry is "anyone who wants God to kill someone is very close to being a killer himself; he'd do it now if he knew he wouldn't be caught". Religion isn't logical; believers can easily hold two contradictory opinions such as wanting God to kill someone but not wanting him dead by any other means. You can't expect believers to believe the logical consequences of their own beliefs.
8.21.2007 6:36pm
Ken Arromdee:
If god is going to smite the enemies as the pastor says, why bother to pray? Can't we all just sit back and watch?

The same question can be asked about *any* prayer, including prayers that are considered much more acceptable.
8.21.2007 6:37pm
Amanda:
As a Baptist, I'd just like to point out that one of the larger organizations to draw Baptists together in a common cause -- the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty -- has submitted joint amicus briefs to the Supreme Court with Americans United. The 14 supporting bodies of the BJC include the American Baptist Convention (mainstream Baptists; the founding president of the convention was then-Gov. Charles Evan Hughes), the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (loosely speaking, falling between the ABC and the Southern Baptist Convention), the state conventions of Texas and North Carolina,

BJC and AU submitted joint briefs in Hein v. Freedom from Religion, City of Boerne v. Flores, Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hileah, and Int'l Soc for Krishna Consciousness v. Lee (joining also with such groups as the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Christian Legal Society, and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights). There are more; that's just a quick glance through the first 10 hits on Lexis.
8.21.2007 6:42pm
Paddy O. (mail):
"I am reminded that early Christians took the time to pray for the Roman Emperors that persecuted them."

I'm sure Drake and his flock do pray for George Bush and other national/world leaders.

It's the folks at American's United, who would like to be the emperors, who get him feisty.

Though the early church did a much better job of confession during persecution than Drake.

Drop the shackles, man! Let go the pernicious bonds of tax exemption!!
8.21.2007 6:48pm
anonVCfan:
This guy needs to render unto Caesar and stfu.
8.21.2007 6:55pm
Paddy O. (mail):
Amanda, your post reminds me that I think Roger Williams should be much more well known today than he is.
8.21.2007 7:00pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
The tunnel to Rome is long outdated. Today, the Holy Father will fly in using his equivalent of Air Force One: The Bird of Pray.

It has a loading hatch on the back so Benedict can come out in his Papal Panzerkampfwagen IV .... no more of these Jeeps!
8.21.2007 7:00pm
Porkchop:
And I thought Christianity was a religion of peace, just like Islam. Can't we all just get along?
8.21.2007 7:14pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
DJR: Come now. We have smart readers, whom I feel I can count on to understand what I mean.
8.21.2007 7:15pm
Amanda:
Let's also remember that the Southern Baptists de-affiliated from the main Baptist convention over the following question: should the convention pay to send slave-owning missionaries and their slaves into the field? The Southern Baptists disagreed, finding that that question should be answered in the affirmative.

Furthermore, it's important to note that this pastor is a former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention. Back in the 1970s, SBC was taken over by the radical right wing of the convention; leaders included some of the same conservatives (very wise folks when it comes to convention politics) who later rose to prominence in the Republican Party. But this pastor is a former leader. At the most recent convention of the Southern Baptists, the convention elected less fundamentalist leaders who wanted to lead the SBC into a less political direction.
8.21.2007 7:22pm
John Herbison (mail):
When the Reverand Mr. Drake turns the other cheek, which direction is he standing?
8.21.2007 7:31pm
Waldensian (mail):

I am not comforted by the fact that God is, in all likelihood, imaginary because it means that a large segment of humanity has spent a large part of human history acting extremely foolish with no end in sight.

True, it's been a pretty big waste of time. On the other hand, at least the absurd tripe they prattle on about won't actually come to pass.
8.21.2007 7:31pm
Fub:
Colin wrote at 8.21.2007 5:13pm:
[Harry Eagar wrote:] As late as 1962, I was solemnly assured by Southern Baptist acquaintances that the tunnel still existed and connected to the episcopal residence in Atlanta.

That's insane. The pope would put his tunnel in Atlanta. Come on, Georgia? The tunnel used to come out in Boston, but even His Holiness won't deal with the big dig traffic. They were going to detour to Green Bay, but I think they rerouted it to Ave Maria, FL.
What I don't get is the Atlanta Episcopal terminal. Didn't the Grand Kleegle and them Baptists ever hear about that little 16th century dustup between Canterbury and Rome? You'da thunk they'da took that station off the schedule after that.
8.21.2007 7:48pm
Randy R. (mail):
The pastor's intent is it harm the people who brought this action against him. By calling in God to do it for him, it shows he's just a little coward.
8.21.2007 7:57pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Small e, Fub. I was talking about the Atlanta home of, originally, the auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah. Georgia was split into two dioceses sometime around 1960 when Atlanta got its own Catholic bishop.
8.21.2007 8:12pm
Michael B (mail):
Damn his presumption. The guy needs to look in the mirror for a goodly spell. Render unto Ceasar, pray for his enemies, the difficult stuff; instead he arrogates and presumes and shames himself and others in the process. Bloody, cossetted, self-centered presumption. If he's inclined toward imprecations, he can meditate on that for awhile.
8.21.2007 8:18pm
scote (mail):
This certainly seems like an incitation to violence. While god may not strike AU down, the church members themselves may under the order from God via Drake.

It seems odd that God should ask Drake to pray for AU's demise. Drake apparently believes in a weak God, impotent without the exhortations of His followers.
8.21.2007 8:39pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
This is for Amanda.

It pains me to say anything positive about any Baptist -- none of 'em ever said anything nice about me. But . . .

I am just barely too young to remember this, but I learn from Jason Sokol's book on civil rights that the Southern Baptist Convention in 1954 voted about 900-60 to endorse Brown v. Board.

Of course, when the preachers got back to their churches, the boards of deacons and contributors made 'em take it back. But it does show that even a Baptist can have a decent impulse, if left alone with his conscience.
8.21.2007 9:54pm
Ken Arromdee:
It seems odd that God should ask Drake to pray for AU's demise. Drake apparently believes in a weak God, impotent without the exhortations of His followers.

Again, you can say that about prayer for anything. If you're just saying that all prayer implies a weak God, then sure. If you're saying that this kind of prayer suggests God is weak but socially accepted prayers for health or for your football team are perfectly fine, then you're completely wrong--there's nothing special about praying for someone's death which implies God is weak, compared to praying for anything else.
8.21.2007 10:01pm
Amanda:
Thanks, Harry.

And I do have great respect for many Southern Baptists. It's just that when folks like Wiley Drake speak out that I feel a need to point out that he does not speak (nor claims to speak) for all Baptists.
8.21.2007 10:38pm
scote (mail):

Again, you can say that about prayer for anything. If you're just saying that all prayer implies a weak God, then sure. If you're saying that this kind of prayer suggests God is weak but socially accepted prayers for health or for your football team are perfectly fine, then you're completely wrong--there's nothing special about praying for someone's death which implies God is weak, compared to praying for anything else.

I would agree that the aim of the prayer does not distinguish the strength of the God, however in this instance Drake claimed that God asked him specifically to pray for the demise of AU. This is different from most prayer, because in this case God was begging Drake for prayer so that he might intervene.

Generally, I find the concept of prayer inconsistent with the concept of an omni-benevolent God. I see no reason why people should have to beg God to to the right thing nor any reason why only people with Christian friends should receive God's intervention in the form of intercessory prayer. And, of course, the idea of God punishing people here on earth based on imprecatory prayer seems inconstant with the idea of free will which will be rewarded or punished in an afterlife.

One thing is certain, though, Wiley Drake is a complete git. IMO, natch.
8.21.2007 11:11pm
Randy R. (mail):
Reminds me of a quote by Dostoevsky: "All prayers come down to this: please, God, make two plus two NOT equal four."
8.22.2007 12:45am
NickM (mail) (www):
We could create a game of Imprecatory Clue.

I guess Reverend Drake in the pulpit with the lightning bolt.

Nick
8.22.2007 7:25am
JB:
Who will rid me of this turbulent NGO?
8.22.2007 9:38am
Happyshooter:
A bonafide Church do not have to incorporate under 501C3 to be tax exempt. Why churches incorporate? Ignorance and fear. But when they incorporate the put themselves under Caesar's "protection." Churches must send letters of dissolution to the appropiate authority and reclaim the title of Churches and drop the title of "charitable organization."

Jam:

Nice argument. The problem with it is that Caesar (the state) says that if the church does not incorporate (in my state into a special form of corporation)--then the church body is a partnership and the state has even more control over the actions of the church.

As a bonus, there are even more chances for Americans United for Separation of Church and State abd their ilk to mess with churches if the church decides to go as a partnership.

The church did not choose to be subject to the state, the state chose to butt in and gave the church options with some less bad than others.
8.22.2007 10:02am
Happyshooter:
We could create a game of Imprecatory Clue.

I guess Reverend Drake in the pulpit with the lightning bolt.


So he is evil and deserves to die for praying to God for punishment for a group that harmed his church....

and you are cool for calling out for his death for that prayer?
8.22.2007 10:04am
Nick P.:
I'm reminded of the recent fantasy novel The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. In her setting (medieval Spain with the serial numbers rubbed off), imprecatory prayer sometimes works. A successful death prayer is a miracle.* A failed death prayer is attempted murder and, IIRC, a capital crime. Perhaps we should hold Mr. Drake to a similar standard.

*Unfortunately, in Bujold's novel, a successful death prayer results in the deaths of both the subject of the prayer and the one who is praying. That might take the wind out of Mr. Drake's sails.
8.22.2007 10:08am
Michael B (mail):
For a polar opposite counterweight to Drake's stunning superficiality and presumption, Peter van Inwagen's Gifford Lectures on The Problem of Evil is positively brilliant.
8.22.2007 10:28am
Ella:
Well, Happyshooter, if he were merely praying for them all to get audited or be visited with a plague of paper cuts and parking tickets, you'd have a point. Praying for their wives to be made widows and children to be made orphans strikes me as a little disproportionate. Not to mention presumptive - do they really think God believes causing his flock some bureaucratic headaches or costing them some money merits the death penalty?

(I think if the real world conformed to Bujold's Chalion universe, Drake would be a little more hesitant about making the prayer - he probably wouldn't think it was worth dying to exact justice for these crimes.)
8.22.2007 10:35am
T-web:
I've found that evangelicals--some, not all--miss the boat on the whole "render unto Caesar" thing. As Christians they're called to obey the laws of the country they're in so long as obedience does not force them to sin. They can always work within the law to change it to their liking. In any case, giving up tax-exempt status or establishing a separate, explicitly political organization is a small price to pay if you consider what you're doing the work of God.
8.22.2007 10:48am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
According to Clarke's Commentary, Psalm 109 is a prophecy of Judas Iscariot. (Acts 1:20 cites verses from Psalms 69 and 109 in reference to Judas.)

I recall King David praying for victory over his military enemies (Psalm 20), but I don't recall similar prayers regarding nonlethal threats.
8.22.2007 10:52am
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):
I think there is a real freedom of speech conflict here. But, as I see it, the only fair way to remedy the problem is to eliminate tax exempt status for religious organizations. Rather than the current setup allowing the primary religious organization to be tax exempt with an affiliated non-501(c)(3) organization doing its political talk, I think it makes more sense for the primary religious organization to be subject to taxation but set up affiliated charitable organizations which are exempt (and subject to limitations on political speech).
8.22.2007 11:02am
Mikey:
It seems to me that there might be some actual risk to Conn and Learing, not because "God" will "smite" them, but because some over-zealous Baptist(s) could decide to make themselves the Earthly means of carrying out this "imprecatory prayer."

If this were to happen, and Conn and/or Learing were harmed by said zealots, would Drake be in some way culpable for inciting the violence?
8.22.2007 11:19am
Ken Arromdee:
Praying for their wives to be made widows and children to be made orphans strikes me as a little disproportionate.

The person doing the praying is appealing to God. God never does anything disproportionate, even when he makes children orphans.

Of course, we usually gloss over this aspect of God. After all, God already makes orphans even without anyone praying for it. And if we believe in God, we are forced to believe that God does so for a good reason. We don't like this, and we try to forget that our religion implies that making orphans can be good sometimes... until this guy comes along and rubs our noses in it.

He's not really asking for anything more outrageous than we already believe. We already think it's good when God makes orphans. He just makes us very uncomfortable because by explicitly praying for it, he reminds us of beliefs of ours that we'd rather forget.
8.22.2007 11:27am
John Herbison (mail):
Has there been any reaction to the Rev. Drake's comments from those who, in other contexts, trumpet the "right to life"? Do these adherents of the "pro-life" viewpoint believe prayer to be ineffectual in this context? Or does the "right to life", as the cliche goes, begin at conception and end at birth?
8.22.2007 12:05pm
WHOI Jacket:
Some idiot made a utterly contemptible statement, we should call him on it.

Christ said "By their fruits, you shall know them"

Ken, God doesn't "make" orphans. Orphans are a product of natural law. Do you claim that God makes your stubbed toe when you run it into a doorjam? All people die, indeed "No man knows the day nor the hour", so in your theological view, parents get a death-pass until what, the kid turns 18?
8.22.2007 12:31pm
Jam:
Happyshooter: Thanks for the correction. I remember reading about that several years ago.

On further consideration, this is a case where it was better for this prayer to have stayed in the closet.

The purpose of Christian prayer is to align our wills with God's. We may give words to our hopes, fears and angers but through prayer we change the focus away from ourselves and, hopefully, recall Scriptures that focus on the character of God revealed through Jesus.
8.22.2007 12:48pm
Michael B (mail):
For a contrasting example of a contemporary imprecatory prayer that does make sense, Pius Ncube, archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, contra Mugabe.
8.22.2007 1:20pm
scote (mail):

Happyshooter:
The church did not choose to be subject to the state, the state chose to butt in and gave the church options with some less bad than others

The state hasn't butted in at all. Churches have been granted a special privilege of being exempt from taxation including property taxes, which, if the church chooses to accept has a few--a very few--restrictions. Because they don't pay taxes for city and state services, the government has to rase other taxes to subsidize churches.

Ken, God doesn't "make" orphans. Orphans are a product of natural law. Do you claim that God makes your stubbed toe when you run it into a doorjam? All people die, indeed "No man knows the day nor the hour", so in your theological view, parents get a death-pass until what, the kid turns 18?

Hmm...so God gets credit for all good things but bad things are the product of natural law?

You need to be consistent. If god is all powerful and all knowing then everything is his fault. If you argue that he chooses to let bad things happen to allow us to have free will then he isn't all loving. And if you claim that we are allowed to have free will but God will smite us whenever he feels like it (different from "natural law") or at the behest of some religious nut job then he isn't allowing free will to be free and God is to blame for everything.
8.22.2007 1:56pm
Happyshooter:
Has there been any reaction to the Rev. Drake's comments from those who, in other contexts, trumpet the "right to life"? *** Or does the "right to life", as the cliche goes, begin at conception and end at birth?

Two part response:

1. I think of myself as anti-abortion, even though my voting and politics is usually based on gun rights.

I oppose the act because I do not think it should be legal to kill a baby, pre-born or after birth, for the crime of a woman having to be pregnant.

I agree with the act of the state killing a person for the crime of murder.

2. I do not agree with the pastor calling for God to kill those who sent the feds after him, but that is a disagreement as to what the correct sanction is.

For example, if someone made good an attempt to prevent my church from preaching the word then I think it would be a good sanction. I don't think what happened rose to that level.

What happened could have risen to that level, and if so then praying for the death of the attacker is correct. Hopefully that situation will not arise in our lifetimes.
8.22.2007 1:58pm
Happyshooter:
The state hasn't butted in at all. Churches have been granted a special privilege of being exempt from taxation including property taxes, which, if the church chooses to accept has a few--a very few--restrictions. Because they don't pay taxes for city and state services, the government has to rase other taxes to subsidize churches.

I think we are talking about two different things.

I was remarking that in my state a church group can either become a special form of corporation and thus be treated automatically as a C3; or

they become a partnership where anti-Evangelical pressure groups like the one that started all this can cause even more problems for the membership as a whole through the regular legal system.

There is no choice three.
8.22.2007 2:02pm
Ken Arromdee:
Ken, God doesn't "make" orphans. Orphans are a product of natural law.

I was responding to an argument which basically said "how could we even think of asking God to kill someone, that's asking God to make orphans!"

That argument already assumes that God makes orphans, so your response that God doesn't make orphans isn't relevant. And once you accept that God answering a prayer for death is God making orphans, then God creating laws that result in death is also God making orphans.

(I suppose you could argue that God making orphans directly counts as God doing it, but God making orphans indirectly doesn't count, which is rather fine hair splitting.)
8.22.2007 2:06pm
scote (mail):

I think we are talking about two different things.

I was remarking that in my state a church group can either become a special form of corporation and thus be treated automatically as a C3; or

they become a partnership where anti-Evangelical pressure groups like the one that started all this can cause even more problems for the membership as a whole through the regular legal system.

There is no choice three.

Indeed, there are two issues at play. My point was that the Church chooses to accept tax exempt status voluntarily and that all of the constraints that come with that exemption are thus the choice of the Church to pursue and not an example of the state butting in. I see the corporate structure as dependent on the choice of taking a government subsidized tax exemption, you see it as a government imposed structure.
8.22.2007 2:24pm
John Kunze:
I'm shocked at the illogic of so many bright people who assume that if there is a god he is good.

Jews, Christians and Muslims surely cannot use the Bible as evidence.
8.22.2007 3:06pm
WHOI Jacket:
Note that I'm not defending this guy at all.

I tend to take the viewpoint that Lewis makes in The Problem of Pain, that we live in a world governed by natural laws and bad things happen by running afoul/into these laws, or good things as well. When "God" acts in contrary to these laws, we label these "miracles".

It's been way too long since I've read my Aquanis, but orthodox Christians believe in a "rational" God, ie.) one that apperars (as far as our fallen, feeble minds can discern) only contravenes Nature in unique circumstances in ways which make His ways apparent to us.

But, then I'm just a chemist, not a logician or theologian, so I'm not the best person to argue this stuff.
8.22.2007 3:18pm
LongSufferingRaidersFan (mail):
Religion is for idiots. Why do you think the jews have all the money and the a-rabs, in spite of sitting on trillions worth of well, are all on the dole? One tribe belives in its god and one doesn't....
8.22.2007 3:49pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Funny, this story is everywhere. Yet, a few months ago a Muslim iman in Johnstown, Pa called for the death of a woman for, well, being a woman, and I had to read it on LGF and nowhere else.

I wonder why that is.....

(Of course I know why, just as each and every one of you do too)
8.22.2007 4:21pm
scote (mail):

Funny, this story is everywhere. Yet, a few months ago a Muslim iman in Johnstown, Pa called for the death of a woman for, well, being a woman, and I had to read it on LGF and nowhere else.

I wonder why that is.....

(Of course I know why, just as each and every one of you do too)

Yes, the reason for this is that Christianity is traditionally given a free pass. Oh, you are thinking that the opposite is true and only Islam gets a pass. I think not.

Remember that whenever you pray for victory in the Iraq War, you are praying for the death and dismemberment of human beings who have nothing to do with terrorism. c.f. Mark Twain's The War Prayer.

If one's God is strong and just, then surely that god could and would simply make the evil ones vanish, rather than aiding humans in the inhumanity of war.
8.22.2007 5:05pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Ken,

Does god decide who to smite based on prayers from men? Is it like a poll?
8.22.2007 5:26pm
Michael B (mail):
Profound stuff, scote.

Remember that whenever you imagine Saddam & Sons' Iraq was absent death and dismemberment (recall CNN's Eason Jordan), or was absent its support of domestic and exported terror in general, or was absent its regional and global destablizing influences, or was absent the UN's Oil for Bribes scandal - remember that such imaginings have no impact in the real world. No matter how "strong and just" those imaginings, no matter how aesthetically pleasing, no matter how great the ideality you're able to imagine - they will have no impact in the real world.

Though too, all that assumes the real world is something you're attempting to come to terms with in the first place, rather than escapist imaginings, reminiscent of post-April, 1975, the brave and heady days of many and great triumphalist imaginings.
8.22.2007 6:19pm
Ken Arromdee:
Does god decide who to smite based on prayers from men? Is it like a poll?

Again, this can be said about any prayer. It's not a specific objection to prayers that God kill someone.
8.22.2007 6:58pm
scote (mail):

Remember that whenever you imagine Saddam &Sons' Iraq was absent death and dismemberment

Excuse me for pointing this out, but Saddam is dead and innocent civilians are still dying in Iraq and people are still praying for victory. Your point is outdated.

A God could just end the war right now. That would be the humane thing to do, unfortunately humane and divine are not synonyms when it comes to the treatment of people.

Actually, I'm not sure what your point is.
8.22.2007 7:44pm
NickM (mail) (www):

We could create a game of Imprecatory Clue.

I guess Reverend Drake in the pulpit with the lightning bolt.


So he is evil and deserves to die for praying to God for punishment for a group that harmed his church....

and you are cool for calling out for his death for that prayer?


Go play Clue. You have absolutely no idea what I was saying. Playing the game once should give you an idea.

Nick
8.23.2007 2:06am
Michael B (mail):
You're not sure what the point is, but you know it to be outdated.

A deftly handled combination, scote. But no, very much to the contrary.
8.23.2007 4:09am
Elliot123 (mail):
Ken: "Again, this can be said about any prayer. It's not a specific objection to prayers that God kill someone."

I agree. So what? So, does god decide who to smite based on prayers from men? Is it like a poll?
8.23.2007 4:42pm
Ken Arromdee:
I agree. So what?

If you agree, I don't really have any dispute with you. My beef is with people who think that there's something specially bad about this as compared to prayer in general.

There may be the occasional person like you who thinks that praying for someone's death is absurd merely because praying for anything is absurd. But that is *not* why most of the outrage is being expressed. The outrage is at the idea of praying for someone to die, not at the idea of praying.
8.24.2007 1:22am
Ella:
I'm not personally outraged - merely amused and mildly irritated - but I think the outrage is traceable not to the idea of imprecatory prayer, but to the screwed up moral code behind it. Reporting someone to the IRS merits a death sentence? REALLY? I don't care if Drake's sincerely held religious beliefs dictate this penalty - it's still wrong.
8.24.2007 10:18am