Is Silence Complicity in Wiley Drake's Latest Death Prayer?
, Rev. Wiley Drake, then-Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, called on the faithful to engage in "imprecatory prayer" against Americans United for Separation of Church and State and several members of it staff. Taken literally, this meant calling for death or severe punishment of these alleged enemies of God.
What had AU done to get Wiley so exercised as to call the wrath of God down on them? They simply reported that his political activities appeared to violate the clear IRS' proscriptions against electioneering by churches. Among other things, Drake endorsed Mike Huckabee for president on church letterhead.
This year, Drake who is now waging an ostensibly long shot campaign for president of the SBC has renewed his call for the death of AU staff.
Americans United has responded with a press release
, which reads in part:
In a Feb. 5 letter, the IRS notified Drake that his First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park is being investigated.
In response, Drake issued a Feb. 14 e-mail appeal to followers to engage in "imprecatory prayers" (curses) against Americans United and three of its staff members.
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, "We deplore Pastor Drake's reckless and repugnant antics. Introducing this kind of religious extremism into American life is reprehensible.
"We have asked the IRS to investigate what we believe to be Drake's violation of federal tax law," Lynn continued. "If Drake thinks he is innocent, he has more than adequate legal representation, and there is ample opportunity to make his case.
"Trying to turn God into some sort of heavenly hit man is repugnant," Lynn concluded. "There is more than a whiff of the Taliban in this action."
Wrote 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.... Specifically target Joe Conn or Jeremy Learing [sic] and their leader Rev. Barry Lynn. They are those who lead the attack."
Drake directed his followers to Psalms 109 (as well as Psalms 55, 58, 68, 69 and 83) for examples of imprecatory prayers.
Verses from those texts ask God to bring death and destruction to those targeted.
"Let his days be few; and let another take his office," says one passage. "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg."
Another passage says, "Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell."
The Los Angeles Times has a brief report titled: Pastor again asks prayers for demise of group's leaders: Buena Park minister issues the call after finding that the IRS is investigating, at the organization's behest, his endorsement of candidate Mike Huckabee.
Meanwhile, the SBC seems to be trying to distance itself from the former and prospective denominational official, as Rob Boston reported the other day. But there is no getting around that Wiley Drake is one of their own. And although he obviously is speaking for himself (and perhaps for some of his followers) there is a time, as we all know, when silence becomes complicity. This is one of those times. And, I beleive, that the complicity extends far beyond responsible SBC leaders, who though they may feel that they cannot speak as denominational leaders -- but are certainly free to speak for themselves.