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Belief in Brief: Imprecatory prayer called against leaders of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Friday, November 2, 2007 | 10:12 a.m. CDT; updated 5:51 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus calls on his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.

His Sermon on the Mount, which famously asks followers to turn the other cheek, inspired Martin Luther King Jr. and Jehovah’s Witnesses in their pursuit of nonviolence. It also conjures images of faithful Christians praying that their adversaries see the error of their ways.

Recently, though, a Christian leader encouraged a rarely used form of prayer, the imprecatory prayer, in which believers invoke or call down evil or curses upon the “enemies of God.”

USE AND PRACTICE

Imprecatory prayer is seen as a prayer of righteous indignation that calls for vengeance or wrath against people considered to be in opposition to God. Information about imprecatory prayer is limited, but it is not considered a popular or normal practice in Christianity or any major world religion.

In August, Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., called for supporters to engage in imprecatory prayer against the leaders of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The group had accused him of improperly using his pastoral role to endorse Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

BIBLICAL EXAMPLES

Drake referenced the Old and New Testament of the Bible as well as the teachings of John Calvin and Martin Luther in support of his call to imprecatory prayer.

In Psalm 109:8-12, one of the sections Drake cited, King David prays, “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.” Other Biblical passages considered examples of imprecatory prayer include David’s prayer against Joab in 2 Samuel 3:28-29, portions of several Psalms and 1 Corinthians 16:22, in which the apostle Paul calls for a curse on anyone who “does not love the Lord.”

Sources: Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, Christianity Today, Christian NewsWire, Orange County Register, Associated Baptist Press, Biblegateway.com, Nave’s Compact Topical Bible, Dictionary.com, Beliefnet.com


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Comments

Jerry Jones November 2, 2007 | 1:19 p.m.

I'm curious as to what the author, AARIK DANIELSEN, is referring when he remarks about "Jehovah's Witnesses" and "their pursuit of nonviolence".

Jehovah's Witnesses are NOT "nonviolet". Just ask the two California men who were physically attacked by a group of JWs while they were placing anti-JW flyers on the windshields of street-parked autos outside a Palm Springs Kingdom Hall. Their van and their camera was also damaged by the attacking JWs. The two injured men later won a civil lawsuit against some of the JW attackers. The WatchTower Society paid a settlement to keep the injured men's lawsuit against it from going to trial and
making headlines. [SOURCE:
http://jwemployees.bravehost.com/NewsRep...

In 1939, the President of the Jehovah's Witnesses issued a letter to the head of the WatchTower Society's Legal Department in which he ADVOCATED that Jehovah's Witnesses render violence against violence:

"It is strange that the brethren get it in their mind that they have to stand up and be kicked by somebody. If some of them would show a little fight and peel someone's head for him it might help a little." [SOURCE:
http://jwemployees.bravehost.com/NewsRep...

In 1940, on two separate occasions, out-of-state Jehovah's Witness Organizers from Pennsylvania shot and wounded or killed three citizens of Maine. [SOURCE:
http://jwemployees.bravehost.com/NewsRep...

In June 1940, two men in Kennebunk, Maine were shot and wounded by one or more Jehovah's Witnesses who were merely anticipating that the two drunks were going to throw beer bottles at their rented combination meeting hall -
literature warehouse.

In August 1940, the Deputy Sheriff of North Windham, Maine was shot four times and murdered by a different out-of-state Jehovah's Witness Organizer from Pennsylvania after the JW refused to stop preaching inside the Deputy's
Texaco station. Read the full account at
[http://jwemployees.bravehost.com/NewsReports/2032.html]

AARIK DANIELSEN needs to fully research his unsubstantiated blanket statements.

Thank you.

(Report Comment)
D Perreault November 4, 2007 | 12:47 p.m.

Can you provide an independent source for the account about 'two California men who were physically attacked by a group of JWs while they were placing anti-JW flyers?' A search of the website cited as a source did not return any hits -

(Report Comment)

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