Just days after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott received an award on March 22 from the far-right Houston Area Pastor Council/Texas Pastor Council, the group’s executive director says supporters of marriage equality for gay and lesbian Americans are “enemies of God” and is calling on Christians to pray for their destruction.
The Pastor Council’s Dave Welch issued his call for “imprecatory prayer” on Monday, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court took up the first of two marriage equality cases it is hearing this week. Welch compared those cases to the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that protected the right of women to choose whether to have an abortion. Welch said the Roe decision had been handed down while abortion wasn’t socially accepted:
“In contrast, the enemies of God have been much wiser and have turned the hearts and minds of many if not most people away from His standards of morality and His design of gender and marriage – preceding the Supreme Court case and decision.
The court will issue a ruling in June so it is incumbent on God’s generals to lead our congregations in imprecatory prayer through then – and of course beyond for many other reasons – however the impact of the oral arguments, the responses and questions by justices and what happens today is monumental.”
Imprecatory prayers call on God to curse or bring calamity — even death and destruction — upon those perceived as wicked or as enemies. Among the most widely known of the imprecatory Psalms from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament:
Psalms 109:8-9 — “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.”
Psalms 137:9 — “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”
Psalms 55:15 — “Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them.”
Psalms: 58:6 — “Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; LORD, tear out the fangs of those lions!”
In recent years President Obama has been among the most prominent targets of imprecatory prayers from far-right religious figures. In 2009, for example, the Rev. Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., called for imprecatory prayers directed at the president. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported on this exchange between Drake and a host for Fox News Radio:
“So you’re praying for his death?” asked the show’s host, Alan Colmes.
“So you’re praying for the death of the president of the United States?”
The pugnacious pastor later elaborated: “If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death, that’s correct.”
A few years later the speaker of the Kansas House sent a memo to Republican House members that singled out Psalms 109:8 (see above) and this personal note: “At last, I can honestly voice a biblical prayer for our president.”
Welch is taking that “do what we want or we’ll pray for God to destroy you” approach when it comes to gay and lesbian Americans (and their allies) who want equal treatment under the law in their own country — people he arrogantly declares to be “enemies of God.” It’s not too late to return that award from Welch’s group, Attorney General Abbott. Or perhaps you could at least let Texans know whether you agree with his hateful and extremist rhetoric.