If You Don’t Like What I Have To Say About Huckabee, I’ll Kill You (Well, sort of)

Elections are supposed to be about candidates. And candidates want endorsements. But not every organization is allowed to make a public endorsement of a political candidate. Specifically, organizations that are tax-exempt – including churches, schools and purely public charities – may not endorse candidates, raise funds for candidates or distribute statements for or against candidates.

The IRS has, in prior years, warned tax-exempt organizations about the kinds of activities which are acceptable – and those that are not. In 2006, the Service was particularly proactive following a slew of complaints stemming from the 2004 presidential elections.

And yet, for the 2008 elections, there continues to be public support for candidates by leaders of tax-exempt organizations (most commonly, churches) on both sides of the aisle.

Last year, liveprayer.com found itself in the spotlight when it touted that “a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Satan.” This mattered because LivePrayer is under the umbrella of Bill Keller Ministries, a fully tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization.

And now, First Baptist Church of Buena Park pastor Wiley S. Drake is under fire for endorsing Mike Huckabee for president. Drake made a public statement in August 2007, released on church letterhead, exhorting his followers to likewise vote for Huckabee:

After very serious prayer and consideration, I announce that I am going to personally endorse Mike Huckabee. I ask all of my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters to consider getting behind Mike and helping him all you can. First of all pray and then ask God, what should I do to put feet to my prayers.

Do what God tells you to do. I believe God has chosen Mike for such an hour, and I believe of all those running Mike Huckabee will listen to God.

In response, the Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS, citing the prohibition against publicly endorsing a candidate.

What’s a “good” Christian to do? Pray that bad things happen to other people.

Oh yeah.

Pastor Drake issued a “Media Advisory” which urged:

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. I made an attempt to go to them via Matt 18:15 but they refused to talk to me. Specifically target Joe Conn or Jeremy Learing. They are those who lead the attack.

And it didn’t stop there. Last week, Pastor Drake was made aware that the IRS is now investigating the political activities of the church in response to his endorsement of Huckabee. He issued, via email , a second call for Imprecatory Prayer against the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union.
In both emails, Drake quoted Psalm 109. Here is the text of Psalm 109:2-20:

O God, whom I praise, do not be silent, for wicked and treacherous mouths attack me. They speak against me with lying tongues; with hateful words they surround me, attacking me without cause. In return for my love they slander me, even though I prayed for them. They repay me evil for good, hatred for my love. My enemies say of me: “Find a lying witness, an accuser to stand by his right hand, That he may be judged and found guilty, that his plea may be in vain. May his days be few; may another take his office. May his children be fatherless, his wife, a widow. May his children be vagrant beggars, driven from their hovels. May the usurer snare all he owns, strangers plunder all he earns. May no one treat him kindly or pity his fatherless children. May his posterity be destroyed, his name cease in the next generation. May the LORD remember his fathers’ guilt; his mother’s sin not be canceled. May their guilt be always before the LORD, till their memory is banished from the earth, For he did not remember to show kindness, but hounded the wretched poor and brought death to the brokenhearted. He loved cursing; may it come upon him; he hated blessing; may none come to him. May cursing clothe him like a robe; may it enter his belly like water, seep into his bones like oil. May it be near as the clothes he wears, as the belt always around him.”

May the LORD bring all this upon my accusers, upon those who speak evil against me.

On a professional level, it is distressing that any organization – religious or otherwise – would respond to complaints against its business practices by “calling out” the opposition. An appropriate response would be to fight the allegations in a rational, thoughtful manner. But apparently, Pastor Drake is neither.

On a personal level, it cheapens religion to turn a criticism into a call for intolerance. I don’t care what your religious or political beliefs are. Just stay within the law when you’re touting them.

For the record, I believe in God and I was raised Southern Baptist – I think that’s an important context for my post. I don’t believe in attacking religion for the sake of attacking religion any more than I believe in attacking individuals in the name of spite.

You can say what you want about our political candidates – be it Obama, Clinton, Huckabee or McCain. I don’t happen to believe that God has a favorite in mind, no matter what Pastor Drake says. But if I did, I could say it here on the blog if I wanted. If I did, I might be criticized, but I wouldn’t be breaking the rules.

(Hat Tip: TaxProf blog)

And if you like this post, you can digg it:
digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/2008_us_elections/If_You_Don_t_Like_What_I_Have_To_Say_About_Huckabee';

Comments

  1. Kristen King

    Wow. Just…wow. I’m blown away by the behavior and personal choices of certain individuals who claim to espouse the values that characterize Christianity and think this is an appropriate expression of them. Religion is not about hatred or your personal vendetta, people! Sheesh.

    Kelly, you really hit the nail on the head with this one. Great post.

    Kristen

  2. Gayla McCord

    Whatever happened to praying for miracles and believing they will happen?

    If these people believe in God – if they believe in the power of prayer and if they believe in Mike, why not just pray and believe their prayers will be answered by taking Mike to the White House or that God will make way for the BEST candidate to make it to the Presidency?

  3. Kelly

    Thanks Kristen. I agree that religion should not be about vendettas – on either side.

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  5. MIKCRT

    I wonder if ANYONE, anywhere, could find any incidence in the Bible where Jesus or any of his followers suggested whom they would support? As “followers,” should they not, too, be as much “no part of the world” as the one claiming to be followed?

  6. Kelly

    Isn’t it though, Liz? I just can’t help but think what kind of message that sends to children in that church about dealing with criticisms and those that are different from you…

  7. Kirk T. Berlenbach

    After sending the link to this story, I am sure that Kelly is not suprised that I felt compelled to add my two cents.
    Pastor Drake is showcasing exactly what is wrong with fundamentalism all over the world. As soon as God becomes the exclusive domain of only the “true believers” then God becomes nothing more than another piece of personal property, to be used however the “believer” sees fit. Not surprisingly, that same “God” is then used to justify the “believer’s” preferences and to further their aims. It also allows the “God” to be used as a weapon (as noted in the previous posts).
    In essence Pastor Drake has issued his own version of a Fatwah.
    I was particularly dismayed to read the last sentence of the letter, “How is their health, by the way?????” There seems to be a certain snyde glee to this line that seems to have nothing to do with my understanding of the attitude of love and respect that Jesus taught and is more akin to what a pagan witchdoctor would do as opposed to a Christian minister.
    As to his use of scripture- Psalm 109 is rather taken out of context (not that it is anything other than an angry prayer for for writer’s enemies to get their divine comuppance). But, the psalm states, “In return for my love they slander me, even though I prayed for them. They repay me evil for good, hatred for my love.” I would ask in all seriousness, when did Pastor Drake show love or do anything good for Americans United? Moreover, how are their accusations against him false (another condition assumed in the Psalm).
    As to Matthew- 18:15 reads, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out their fault….” The passage goes on with a series of conditions and instructions but the point is this- this passage is there for the resolving disputes only among believers (church members). I doubt that Americans United would consider themsleves as being within the same fellowship or church as Pastor Drake. His use of this passage is there only in a pro forma (like my use of law terms Kelly?) use… so that he can say that he did what he was required to do by scripture before invoking the call to “imprecatory prayer.”
    It is so sad to that so many believers of all types are blind to the fact that they use G-D in so base a manner.

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  9. Sean Kelly

    “A Vote for Mitt Romney is a Vote for Satan”
    This campaign backfired big time as Romney’s support from the influential Devil Worshipper demographic soared. If Romney had the sense to focus on the Satanic vote, he’d be the frontrunner today.
    So few have really learned the lessons in political strategy as taught by George W. and Karl Rove.

  10. Jody Ferguson

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I thought the God I serve was a just and loving God. One of love hope and understanding that speaks in a still soft voice.
    Has anyone else thought the voice these people are hearing may be coming from a dark place?

    J

  11. Sean Kelly

    Jody:
    I think the just & loving God ever did too well in the polls, and is somewhat of a political liability. Hope and understanding is lends itself to charges of “flip-flopping” and doesn’t score highly in opinion polls and psychographic attitude surveys.
    This goes back at least to Mark Twain’s day, as evidenced by his classic and disturbingly true “The War Prayer”:
    http://www.lexrex.com/informed/otherdocuments/warprayer.htm

  12. Sean Kelly

    Sorry. Here’s the sober version:
    Jody:
    The just & loving God never did too well in the polls, and is seen as a political liability. “Hope” and “Understanding” makes one vulnerable to charges of “flip-flopping” and don’t score highly in opinion polls and psychographic attitude surveys.
    This goes back at least to Mark Twain’s day, as evidenced by his classic and disturbingly true “The War Prayer”:
    http://www.lexrex.com/informed/otherdocuments/warprayer.htm

  13. Kelly

    Father Kirk –

    Thanks for your interesting input. The comparison to a fatwah is especially intriguing as I suspect much that Pastor Drake is offended by his perceptions of other fundamentalists.

    And yes, your use of legal terms was impressive!

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