Is Silence Complicity in Wiley Drake's Latest Death Prayer?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 02:26:10 PM EST
Last year, 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.

for the conservative evangelicals posing as the new moderates to demonstrate that they are, in fact, moderates.

How hard would it be to distance themselves from Wiley Drake?

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 04:39:42 PM EST

The "moderates" won't decry Wiley Drake because to do so would be to attack a "brother in Christ", regardless of how reprehensible his words and deeds. Why, don't you know, all he needs is prayer and support, and shucks, the Lord will heal Brother Wiley's heart and all will be well in the Kingdom of Heaven and, and, and, bless his heart.

That's why even the most moderate and liberal of "Christians" baffle me. They all too often won't acknowledge stupidity and hatred even when it's among their own, and by their silence they simply abet the atrocity. Christian fundamentalism and domininionism would not exist today were it not for the tacit support it has received from "moderate" believers.

by Forrest Prince on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 06:00:38 PM EST

but that is just warmed over Sam Harris BS.

Christians criticize each other all the time, brother in Christ or not.  

Some of the toughest critiques of dominionism, for example, going back many years have come from otherwise conservative evangelicals.

And I might add, if you read this site, you have got to be aware that there are lots of liberal Christians who criticize the religious right.  


Trust the evidence of your own eyes.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 06:28:37 PM EST

I read Talk to Action daily, along with many other religion-oriented blogs and websites, and I am aware of the myriad critiques leveled by Christians of many stripes against the positions and ideas of Christians of other stripes. I try to stay informed and current on the religion-front news. I do know that many who call themselves Christian deplore and condemn people like Wiley Drake. This is all well and good. But they still think the Bible is essentially the revealed Word of God, and it is from the Bible that Drake pulls his imprecatory passages, passages that are stupid, hateful, and anti-human. Do these "liberal" and "moderate" Christians denounce their own sacred scripture? I do not see much evidence of this. Rather, what I observe is much dithering and apologetics, and explaining-away of words that are indefensible in any other context.

However, I think the question you posed is whether the "conservative" Christians who pose as "moderate" will denounce the faith-based law-breaking, bigotry, and hatred of Wiley Drake and his ilk. I think we agree they will not. I took it one step further and tarred all Christians with the same brush, not because of something Sam Harris wrote but because these are conclusions I have come to on my own. By the way, I haven't read Harris's books but I have read excerpts of them, and I essentially do agree with him, but like I say it is because I have come to those opinions independently, after many years of following these matters.

I also spent many years of my youth as a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian, then as a moderate, liberal Christian, then as a "back-slider" Christian who still clung to some vestige of faith and belief, then as an agnostic, and finally I shed all pretense of belief because not even the most nominal claims of supernaturalism can be supported by empirical evidence. I finally returned to the "belief" I was born with: atheism.

I maintain that belief in the supernatural, and thus belief in a god or gods of any sort, no matter how moderate one holds or acts upon such belief, is not benign in the long run. Radical religious belief that expresses itself in theocracy and dominionism and religious nationalism gets its start as mere belief in the supernatural. Those who cling to belief in the supernatural, as do "liberal" and "moderate" Christians, lend support to religious wackos like Wiley Drake, unwittingly or no.

If we want a better world we must stop expecting a no-show god to provide it. The only way it's going to come about is if we do it ourselves, and that requires belief in ourselves as human beings to the exclusion of all beliefs otherwise. Those who still believe in a god, i.e. even liberal and moderate Christians, have not yet fully embraced belief in the capacity of the human race to solve its problems for itself.

Thank you for allowing me to express myself here. I think you and I share common ground in our goals, but we will disagree on the means. I guess this is just human nature, and I hope that someday we can overcome our differences and bring about the better world we all long for.

by Forrest Prince on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 09:35:27 AM EST

A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice

-- Thomas Paine (h/t Daily Kos)

by Forrest Prince on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:17:58 AM EST

I know I cannot speak for Representative Forbes, so I cannot say whether he would claim himself to be "moderate" in his Christian beliefs and actions, but I would guess that he would. I would guess that he would not endorse the words of Wiley Drake, at least not in public. I would also guess that his constituents would not describe him as a religious fanatic nor necessarily a member of the Religious Right. But Chris Rhodda's post today further debunking HR888 (Sponsor: Randy Forbes) further demonstrates the danger posed by even moderate believers. Ten more members of Congress have now signed on to this pack of heinous faith-based lies. That's ten more U.S. lawmakers tacitly supporting Christian dominionists and history revisionists like Wiley Drake.

Kudos to Rhodda for her great work in trying to block this resolution from passing. Congress should be ashamed of itself for ever letting this come to the floor.

Lies, even if they're only in non-binding House Resolutions, need to be shouted down by all people of reason, whether those people are people of faith or not. Unfortunately, people of faith still believe in what I consider the ultimate lie: that the supernatural is real, and that at least one god exists.

by Forrest Prince on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 11:48:24 AM EST

of all people of religious faith is radically misplaced. And as I and others have stated in critiquing Harris, such broad brush claims are not only misquided, but politically counter productive; especially in a country where most people are religious in some way or another, and have nothing in common with dominionism or any of its variants. Conversation among relgious and non-religious people about matters of mutual interest best take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

That said, I understand your point in the context in which you intend it. But going forward, also remember that this site has a hard rule of not debating theology, or theism vs. atheism. We are interested in discussing the religious right and what to do about it; a purpose which I know you not only thorougly agree is worthwhile, but that the best ways of doing so are not always clear and are worthy of some reflection and discusion. And i appreciate your participation.

Finally, as always, I want to underscore that on this site we have people writing and otherwise participating who are religious and non-religious; Christians and non-Christians; and all are equally welcome.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 06:19:49 PM EST

For steering me back to the purpose of Talk to Action, which is as you say discussing the Religious Right and what to do about it. Passion often gets the better of me and I lose focus.

Indeed, the RR is where we need to concentrate our attention. Even a small action on their part can carry enormous consequences. For instance, were it not for TTA, I would probably not be aware of the IRD and the damage to good people of faith it has caused. The IRD is subtle and insidious, and needs to be continually confronted and countered. It does a community no good at all when any of its congregations becomes split against itself, all the more worse when those schisms are the result of tactical lies such as the IRD employs. A community divided can never be as fruitful as a community united.

by Forrest Prince on Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 09:59:00 AM EST

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