Controversial Southern Baptist Pastor Wiley Drake has again urged his followers to pray for the deaths of staff members at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Last August, Americans United filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service about Drake’s use of church letterhead and a church-based radio program to endorse presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Federal tax law forbids tax-exempt groups from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
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 and website 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.”
Drake waged a similar campaign last year after Americans United filed its complaint against him with the IRS. Religious leaders from a wide variety of faiths repudiated the pastor’s tactic.
Drake is a prominent pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. He recently completed a term as second vice president of the group, its third highest post. He currently is running for president of the denomination, which became increasingly political after a fundamentalist takeover in the 1980s.