August 16, 2007

Know Them By Their Deeds: Pastor Prays For Harm to Befall AU Staff

Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently asked the IRS to investigate unlawful politicking by the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, CA. Now the pastor of this church has responded, only it isn't what you'd expect. Rather than denying the allegations, this pastor decided to respond by calling on his congregation to pray for assorted bad things to happen to AU staff.

AU's complaint indicated that the church's pastor had used church resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. That is, AU alleged that the church had violated the federal law prohibiting non-profit religious groups with tax-exempt status from endorsing candidates by promoting Huckabee as "god's candidate."
“Federal tax law is clear,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “Churches and other non-profits may not endorse candidates, if they want to keep their tax exemption. I am confident that the vast majority of Americans do not want to see their houses of worship politicized.”
According to AU, Dr. Wiley S. Drake, the pastor of this church, explicitly endorsed Huckabee in an August 11 press release. Now AU has issued another press release alleging that Drake has encouraged his congregation to "pray for the demise" of AU staff members.
Instead of responding to Americans United’s concern of illegal activity, Drake issued yesterday afternoon a plea to his supporters to join in “imprecatory prayers” (curses) every morning for Americans United and its staff.
Fortunately, AU also provides us with a taste of Drake’s own words:
“In light of the recent attack from the ememies (sic) of God I ask the children of God to go into action with Imprecatory Prayer,” Drake said, in an Aug. 14 press statement issued from the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park. “Especially against Americans United for Seperation (sic) of Church and State.”
According to AU, Drake identified two specific staff members in their press release as the targets of their "imprecatory prayers."
In a section of his press release called “How To Pray,” Drake includes a long list of biblical citations that call on God to smite enemies. For example, the alleged enemies of God “shall be judged,” “condemned,” and “his days be few….” Additionally, supporters should pray that the enemy’s “children be fatherless, and his wife a widow,” and “his children be continually vagabonds, and beg; let them seek bread also out of their desolate places.”

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