THE LATEST IN HYPOCRISY:
PRAYING FOR THE DEATHS OF YOUR RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL OPPONENTS
"Set thou a wicked man over him and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. 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 desolate places. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let strangers spoil his labor. Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any favor to his fatherless children. Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. Because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart. As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him. As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water , and like oil into his bones. Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually. Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord and of them that speak evil against my soul."
Psalm 109, verses 6 through 20
When the staff members of Americans United For Separation of Church and State asked the IRS to investigate the Reverend Wiley Drake, Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention for what they believed were Drake's violation(s) of federal tax law, Americans United had no idea that they would soon find themselves on the receiving end of Imprectatory Prayers in which Drake and his ilk were openly praying for the physical harm and even deaths of American United Staff members. For those of you who missed this twisted imbecility-and we're bound and determined that you won't--Mister Drake and his demented followers went right to the Book of Psalms to find violent imagery which they promptly transformed into the Christian versions of death curses. Among the verses that they bantered about were:
"Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them."
Psalm 55, verse 15.
"Break their teeth , O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord, Let them melt away as waters which run continuously: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be cut in pieces. As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take away as with a whirlwind, both living and in his wrath. The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked."
Psalm 58, verses 6 through 10
"But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses. The Lord said, I will bring again Ba-shan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea: That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same."
Psalm 68, verses 21 through 23
"Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welcome, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents."
Psalm 69, verses 22 through 25.
You just have to give the Radical Religious Right credit. When they decide to play the part of the Taliban they don't go half way. Indeed, they have done a splendid job at transforming the Christian God of love and peace into a savage hit man who protects potential tax criminals. You can't get much more depraved than that, but then again are we truly surprised? Mister Drake is the Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention the largest Protestant Denomination in the United States and it goes without saying that this group has a rather bizarre background to say the least. First and foremost, it was created in the Nineteenth Century as a refuge for Christians (and I use the term loosely) who justified the institution of slavery on religious and political grounds. As a matter of fact it took more than 100 years for the denomination to finally--FINALLY--admit that its stand on slavery had been wrong. Then, beginning in the 1980s the Church underwent a process in which it was taken over by the most rabid of right wing Fundamentalists; and I really don't think that we have to repeat what this meant for women in the Southern Baptist Convention. Indeed, the stand taken by the new leadership wasn't only that women had come a long way, they believed that women had come too far and were bound and determined to establish the supposed superiority over women based on Biblical diktats. And while we're at it, let's remember that this is the same church which once told us that "God does not hear the prayers of a Jew." So when we consider the history and often demented behavior that his organization has shown in the past we really shouldn't be surprised when a man like Mister Drake resorts to bastardizing the Holy Text into the modern day version of a Satanic Death Curse.
In many ways this is the Southern Baptist equivalent of a fatwa. Exactly how does it differ from the Ayatollah Khomeini placing a death sentence on the head of author Salmon Rushdie because Rushdie dared to write a few critical, or at least nontraditional, comments about Islam? How does this differ from rogue, Islamic clerics who issue fatwas against their sworn enemies, usually because someone dared to criticize their religious beliefs? I would argue that there is very little difference. The people who George W. Bush refers to as Islamo-Fascists routinely pray for the harm or even deaths of their opponents, and by offering up Imprectatory Prayers, Mister Drake and his troglodytic ilk have devolved to the very level of the people who they themselves undoubtedly hate the most.
Well, this may come as a shock to Mister Drake, but the Bible is not meant to be used in the same way as the The Satanic Bible, or as if it were some book about Black Magic in the occult section of your favorite book store. Or at the very least he should know hat he Bible is something more. As the Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention he is the third man at the top of the Southern Baptist hierarchy. Moreover, he is currently running for the position of President which would give him even more power and influence. Which brings me to another point. When you read the Psalms that Mister Drake chose it becomes obvious that he somehow thinks of himself as a victim. Well, friends and neighbors, I have news for you. People with that much power and influence are seldom victims. They have the power to victimize and to create victims, but they are often such bullies and thugs that they can hardly be thought of as legitimate victims themselves. But they do like to play the part of the phony victim whenever it scores points with their weak-minded followers.
Of course I can hear the Radical Right Wing voices out there right now. What harm is there in a prayer? Well, as I have said all along, these are not your typical run of the mill prayers, and it helps to understand the nature of the people who are offering those prayers. These people believe that the power of prayer is real; they believe in the power of prayer as a matter of basic instinct. So when they pray for the harm and/or deaths of other human beings they believe they are going to have a effect. Moreover, you always run the risk of the proverbial loose cannon deciding to transform himself into an instrument of God who l then act upon those prayers as if they were instructions from the All Mighty.
Can it be that we have become so obsessed over the idea of Islamic terrorists that we have inadvertently overlooked the possibility of Christian terrorists? The last I knew issuing death threats (and that's what these so-called prayers really are) is a form of terrorism. They are directed against a single group and they are clearly intended to create a climate of fear and intimidation. At the very least we might consider the possibility that Mister Drake and his merry band of paranoiacs are engaging in a form of hate speech, and that's a lot more worrisome an his alleged wrongdoings with the IRS.
(Authors' notes: All Biblical quotes come from The King James version of the Holy Bible.)