Theocrat of the Week
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Apr 29, 2007 at 10:14:02 PM EST
There are times, when someone stands heads and shoulders above the crowd in the otherwise tight contest for Theocrat of the Week. This of course, gives our panel of Distinguished, Learned, and Scholarly Judges, some down time. And besides the Red Sox were playing the Yankees this weekend. (The Sox were hot and the Yanks were not.) I might have said here, "but I digress," but alert readers will probably have already noticed this. But I further digress.

Rev. Wiley Drake's path to international recognition as Theocrat of the Week began in 2002, when he signed a Declaration of Support for James Kopp, the confessed assassin of Dr. Barnett Slepian, who was shot to death from the woods behind his home with a high powered rifle fitted with a telescopic sight. Slepian bled to death in front of his family after having just returned from the synagogue where he said kaddish for his dead father. Kopp is suspected in four similar shootings.

Nothing says "theocratic" more than the willingness to wage war against unarmed doctors and nurses on behalf of your religious views. James Kopp and his cohort in the Army of God have waged a covert campaign of bomings, arsons and strategic assasinations while quietly building their movement.  Southern Poverty Law Center, reports the Spring issue of Intelligence Report:

Kopp maintained that he never intended his shooting to result in Slepian's death, after which the anti-abortion extremist fled the Buffalo area for Mexico, Ireland and then France, where he was finally captured in March 2001 as one of the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" fugitives. Kopp admitted the killing to a newspaper reporter in November of 2002.

It was after this admission that Wiley Drake, a well-known Baptist minister from Buena Park, Calif., signed a "Declaration of Support for James Kopp."

The Declaration reads, in part:  

We the signers of this declaration, proclaim that we support and stand for righteousness in defense of the unborn

We WILL NOT turn away and cower in fear of our godless, oppressive government and judicial system


It was not only Drake's declaration of support, but the manner of his announcement that caught the notice of our Distinguished and Learned Panel of Judges.

The Declaration of Support for James Kopp is posted on the web site of the Army of God (AOG) -- that's the organization of revolutionary theocrats of myriad stripes that have engaged in a violent war of attrition, with abortion providers as their primary target, for a generation. Leading figures in the AOG include women and men convicted of muder, bombing, arson, kidnapping, and more. Such leading lights as the late Rev. Paul Hill, (executed in Florida's electric chair for the murder of a doctor and his escort), and Rev. Michael Bray who served four years for his involvement in a series of bombings and arsons of clincs and civil rights organizations in the 1980s have publicly advocated for theocratic revolution in the United States.  Among Bray's notable crimes was the bombing of the Washington Office of the American Civil Liberties Union on the 4th of July.  Bray was among a number of convicted felons joining Drake in the Declarations of Support for James Kopp.

The Declararion, according to the AOG, was originally posted at the site of  Missionaries to the Unborn, a similarly oriented site that maintained a fundraising support group for people convicted of major antiabortion crimes -- a function now maintained by AOG. Suffice to say, one does not happen upon these web sites incidentally, or post on them casually or in ignorance of their purposes.  Indeed, Drake is well-known in these circles. Army of God veteran and Hero of the Faith the late Bob Ferguson, posted an account of protesting with Drake at a Planned Parenthood facility in California:  

Rev Wiley Drake came and shared in this outreach. This man is unlike so many pastors and we in So Cal are most fortunate to have him.

Drake and Ferguson go way back as brothers in the theocratic movement. Ferguson even helped Drake raise money to pay back taxes on his "parsonage" when the dark side threatened Drake. Ferguson wrote:  

"While I was in Washington D.C. May 29-31 the devil and his jack-booted thugs attacked First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park."

There is clearly a rich history here that is no doubt worthy of further recognition -- but it is Wiley's support for the activities of a man whose theocratic activism made him an international terrrorist by the standards of democratic societies -- sets him apart from any other contender for Theocrat of the Week.

But let's not overlook Drake's many other theocratic activities.

The Associated Baptist Press reports that  

Drake uses his live, four-day-a-week radio and Internet broadcast to campaign for countless conservative Christian causes -- former "Ten Commandments judge" Roy Moore, a Christian "exodus" from public schools, prayer and Bible teaching in public schools, and public prayer "in Jesus' name" in the military and in government meetings.

Clearly, the wily Rev. Drake has a comprehesive resume of theocratic activities to his credit. Let's highlight just two:  

According to the religious right internet magazine, World Net Daily:

If you like sexually transmitted diseases, shootings and high teen pregnancy rates, by all means, send your children to public schools. That's the word from a leader in the fast-growing movement within the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention  for parents to pull their children from those schools in favor of homeschooling.

The program is called Exit Strategy and Pastor Wiley Drake, whose home state of California has done some things especially offensive to Christians this year, is a leading promoter.

In an interview with WND, he said that those problems and others are prevalent in public schools, and some Christian leaders even have said it could be considered child abuse just to register children in such a facility.

Of course, given the Christian nationalist materials that tend to be used in Chrsitian home school curricula, notably the works of historical revisionist David Barton, the movement from the public schools will not be merely one of separation and safety concerned, but indoctrination in theocratic worldviews.

And when Wiley traveled from Calfornia to Alabama in 2003 to support the soon to be disgraced ex-Judge Roy Moore, over Moore's religious monument to the Ten Commandments he had installed in the state courthouse, Wiley declared:

"This is about the courts saying we can't acknowledge God in public. Are we a nation under God or are we not? That's the critical issue," Drake continued. "If that monument comes out of there, we're going to have a revolt on our hands. A nation that does not acknowledge God goes down the hole morally and that's exactly what's happening."

The courts clearly, and repeatedly stated that Moore's monument was a violation of the establishment clause of the Constitutionand ordered the removal of the monument. What eventually followed was the campaign by the religious right denouncing "judicial tyranny," much in the fashion of Roy Moore's political role model, George C. Wallace. It has been the courts that have been at the forefront in advancing the constitutional right religious freedom for individuals -- against bastions of theocratic majoritarianism, and feisty theocratic moiblizations for rollback and retrenchment.

So let's review. Our Theocrat of the Week supports the shooting of a Jewish doctor who conducts his medical practice in keeping with the laws of the United States -- in his home, in front of his children -- because Kopp did not "intentionally" kill him. Wiley was bold and forthright enough to post his statement of support for Kopp, who had been an international fugitive from justice, on the web site of a theocratic revolutionary organization whose leadership comprises convicted felons and those who celebrate their crimes against a "godless and oppressive government and judicial system," and provides support for their soldiers who have been captured and incacerated.

But lest anyone think the wily Rev. Drake is a somehow marginal, fringe or extreme -- let's note that just last year he was elected as the second vice president of the largest Protestant denomination in America.  What's more, he was elected as part of a reform slate of candidates whose election was hailed as a move towards moderation in the fundamentalist controlled Southern Baptist Convention. (Apparently, someone was mistaken.)

Wiley may be the highest ranking religious leader in American history to have signed onto such a theocratic, revolutionary manifesto.

Where in the World is Wiley Drake?

 Wiley Drake in Buena Vista

Crusade Radio


Hat tips to Mainstream Baptist, via Ethics Daily, via the Southern Poverty Law Center, which broke the story of Wiley's "Declaration" in the Spring issue of Intelligence Report.

What's more, he was elected as part of a reform slate of candidates whose election was hailed as a move towards moderation in the fundamentalist controlled Southern Baptist Convention. (Apparently, someone was mistaken.)

Or, since Drake never made a secret of his taste for slumming among the most extreme fringes of the anti-abortion movement, maybe the SBC was, shall we say (to be as kind as you were), misrepresenting the truth.

After all, his signature on the Declaration of Support for Kopp has been posted online for years now.

by moiv on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 01:02:54 AM EST

I have no idea what the various members of the SBC knew, or when they knew it.

In this post we get a baseline of irrefutable information.  From here, it is certainly reasonable for responsible people to begin to ask some questions of SBC leaders. Here are a few for starters:

Is is appropriate for an SBC officer to support the murder of a Jewish doctor -- or anyone?  What do SBC leaders think of people who condone murder and associate with those who advocate murder and other felonies? Are such people suitable for leadership in the SBC? Are they suitable to be pastors of local churches?

Do SBC leaders agree with Vice President Wiley Drake and members of the Army of God that the government and judiciary of the United States are "godless and oppressive?"  And if so, what do they think should be done about it?

Perhaps some reporters, and maybe even some SBC members, will have the courage to ask.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 01:50:57 AM EST

No well-known Southern Baptist has demonstrated any courage as of yet.

In fact, no popular Southern Baptist blogger has covered the story.

Quite a few Southern Baptists read Dr. Prescott's blog and my blog.  Yet, nothing but silence...

by Big Daddy Weave on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 02:11:01 PM EST

Silence is complicity.  

It will be interesting to see how SBCers deal with this.  Many of us will stay on the case of a hypocrisy run so deep. Rather than the exception, Wiley Drake epitomizes what much of the religious right is all about.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Apr 30, 2007 at 02:46:21 PM EST

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