A post on Wonkette led me to this article in the LA Times about the pastor and former national leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, Wiley S. Drake. Apparently, Drake used his church letterhead to endorse Mike Huckabee for president, and Americans United for Separation of Church State asked the IRS to investigate the church's tax status. Drake responded by asking his followers to use imprecatory prayer against two leaders of that organization -- specifically to pray that misfortune would come to them. He suggested Psalm 109, which includes the following:
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Pretty strong stuff. Drake feels justified:
It's hard to know where to begin to comment on this. The obvious point is that someone has to get Drake and people like him a copy of the New Testament and have them sit down and read it. His hubris strikes me as well -- getting his tax status investigated is an "attack" on God's church? Comparable to, say, the Diocletian Persecution? There's really no need to comment any further.
Drake said Wednesday he was "simply doing what God told me to do" by targeting Americans United officials Joe Conn and Jeremy Leaming, whom he calls the "enemies of God."
"God says to pray imprecatory prayer against people who attack God's church," he said. "The Bible says that if anybody attacks God's people, David said this is what will happen to them."
Except, of course, to say that the medievals always did these things better. I couldn't help thinking about Lester Little's book Benedictine Maledictions, about how Benedictine monks, faced with grave dangers and threats to life and property, developed liturgical curses, some of them involving a very elaborate ritual (here's a good review by Constance Bouchard). These curses were sophisticated and made sense given the context -- a far cry from Drake's approach.