Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | October 6, 2009

Imprecatory prayer lawsuit

Imprecatory prayer — that terribly un-Christian practice of praying for horrible punishments to be visited upon one’s enemies — has inspired a lawsuit in Texas, Leah Burton of the blog God’s Own Party? reports:

Last week my friend Mikey Weinstein filed a law suit in Dallas, Texas naming both he and his wife as plaintiffs in a land mark case against religious extremism. I am honored to have been asked by Mikey to do what I can to help in his efforts to shed light on the practice of imprecatory prayer and the dangers that lie within them. I have tremendous respect for what he is doing…and total disdain for the ‘c’hristians who are praying for harm to come to him and his family, in all manner of violence. …

The Dallas Morning News reports that the lawsuit filed by Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, seeks to force:

“… Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former U.S. Navy chaplain, to ‘stop asking Jesus to plunder my fields … seize my assets, kill me and my family then wipe away our descendants for 10 generations.’

The suit also asks the court to stop the defendants – Klingenschmitt and Jim Ammerman, the founder of the Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches – from “encouraging, soliciting, directing, abetting or attempting to induce others to engage in similar conduct.”

Weinstein, 54, said his family has received death threats, had a swastika emblazoned on their home in New Mexico, animal carcasses left on their doorstep and feces thrown at the house.

Weinstein, who is Jewish, said the harassment started several years ago when he began protesting Christian proselytizing at his alma mater, the Air Force Academy.

Oh the Constitutional issues this cases raises. Here’s Burton’s opinion:

This isn’t simply free speech. These are delusional people inciting violence in the name of God…

Why is it that any wingnut can put a scarf around their neck, call themselves “Dr.”, hold an open bible in their hands and we all suddenly freak out and act like they are a divine incarnation of God standing before us. I call bull****! We let them hide behind that protection.

That’s not all. Remember, every taxpayer subsidizes their activities — whether we’re believers in their religion, in another religion, or in no religion — through income and property tax breaks given to any outfit that calls itself a church.

No matter where you stand on Weinstein’s lawsuit, it’s time to revisit those tax breaks. And this case is additional evidence of why religion must not be exempt from rational criticism.



  1. I agree with you on some points and disagree on a couple. Imprecatory prayers are not un-Christian, in fact they are very much based on the Bible, the old testament in particular so a Jewish person should recognize their theological validity.

    But I do agree that they are not meant to be shouted from the roof tops, or a pulpit, or any where out loud. They are a prayer to God to visit his judgment on earth instead of waiting until death to do so. The dangers of praying Imprecatory prayers out loud is that people will use them to commit their own form a judgment on a person instead of letting God do His thing.

    I personally have not prayed an Imprecatory prayer before, I feel I am not qualified to ask God to judge someone else when I am deserving of His judgment first. I do know of some people that have prayed them, all though they never told me against who and what the out come was, that is between them and God.

    I think the lawsuit is a bit anti-religion and should be more of a simple harassment case against those that have taken physical action. Bringing the case up as a religious matter begins a slippery clop that I would hope a real Jew would not want to build.

  2. Imprecatory prayer directly conflicts with the Bible’s edict to love your neighbor as yourself. You have to ignore one part of the Bible or the other here. Oops, but the Bible, is perfect, inerrant, infallible. Guess not.

    And “slippery clop” and “real Jew” — what the hell are those?

  3. “slippery clop” is the result of a mind working faster than the fingers can type. Obviously it was meant to say “slippery slope”, and a “real Jew” is one that practices their faith and is knowledgeable of their cultural heritage.

    An Imprecatory prayer is asking God to judge someone ahead of death. There is nothing un-biblical with asking God to do what He said He would do. Read the psalms, David does it a number of times.

  4. I didn’t say imprecatory prayer was “un-biblical,” I said it was “un-Christian.” And it is. How is it honoring the NT commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” if you’re praying for them, their children and their children’s children to die horrible deaths?

    But you’re so bound up in your faith that you can’t see logic.

    There are lots of different ways to practice the Jewish faith and lots of ways to intepret the relevance of their cultural heritage in today’s society. I’m forced to assume by your chutzpah-filled remark that only those who practice their faith in the way that YOU approve and intrepret their cultural heritage in the way that YOU approve a “real Jews.” Are you in some sort of ego and racism competition with Rush Limbaugh?

    Finally the “slippery slope” argument is a FALLACY. ( But you’ve already demonstrated your failure at logic and reason.

  5. Christianity is defined by the Bible, if something is un-Christian it is un-biblical.

    Imprecatory prayer is not praying for someone to die a horrible death, this is where your mixed up. Imprecatory prayers are asking for someone to get what they deserve under the judgment of God now instead of waiting for their earthly death.

    There is only way to “practice the Jewish faith”, read the Bible, it spells it all out. But your not interested in a theological discussion on the topic so that is where I am leaving it.

    You may call a slippery slope a fallacy but I call it historical, they happen.

    • No, Christianity is defined by belief in Jesus Christ. All New Testament stuff.

      The Old Testament and the New Testament conflict a lot. Something can be un-Christian but not un-Christian. I just gave you an example. There are lots of others. OPEN YOUR EYES.

      Just because you reject a concept, say fallacies, or perhaps evolution, or maybe the fact that your religion (set of unprovable assertions) is no better than anybody else’s religion or no religion at all, doesn’t make it so.

      Did you even read the link? Clearly not.

      • Jesus Christ is not just New Testament stuff. He is frequently found in the Old Testament as well. And in history pre-dating the New Testament.

  6. Christianity is New and Old Testament, I can tell your a “liberal” with your arrogance to tell a Christian what Christianity is.

    I never said I rejected fallacies, you jump to conclusions too much. Sometimes people, like yourself, like to hide behind the concept of fallacies in stead of face the facts. using a slippery slope argument without facts is a fallacy but if you can put the argument into historical context it is a logical argument. Am I going slow enough for you? Those that do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

    • Jesus is most definitely NOT Old Testament, he’s not even the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.


      • Just reading the debunking website shows how little they understand of Jesus. In fact this comment supports Jesus as the Messiah:
        “However, not only does Jesus not fit the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament scriptures, but what most Christians don’t know and are never told, is that Jesus also did not fulfill the actual intended messianic prophecies of the Old Testament and Torah! You see, Old Testament prophesized a messiah (or “moshiach” as modern Jews like to call it) who would re-establish the national kingdom of Israel as a nation, making it the powerful center of the world. This leader would live and thrive in the world, not die on the cross for our sins. That was never part of the plan! On the other hand, the concept of a messiah as savior and redeemer of the world is a Christian concept.”

        Jesus spent a lot of time dissuading both his disciples and the public that He was not going to do the National restoration at the time he was on earth 2,000 years ago. Judas was the one disciple that didn’t get it. He knew Jeshua was the Messiah and that he wasn’t going to restore National Israel at that time and tried to put Jeshua in a position where he would have to exercise His power which Judas was well aware of. This is the best explanation of the events that occurred during Judas betrayal of Jeshua to the authorities and ties right into the Psalm 109:8 controversy because that Psalm applies directly to Judas betrayal. See John’s gospel where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

        The book of Revelation has Jeshua explaining to John the coming restoration. Not a pretty picture. You see one thing about being the Messiah is that there are no polls, commentators or kibitzer that can change what the Messiah is going to do.

        Christians know well what God’s plan is in Torah and elsewhere. It is the debunking people that need to shed some of their cultural mythology and be a little more open minded.

  7. Look, I’ve written columns embracing the liberal label, so this is hardly a stunning piece of detective work on your part, Sherlock:

    Calling me a liberal is a compliment. Buy you’ve drunk too much of the wingnut Kool-Aid to grasp that.

    You just rejected a fallacy — you can’t reject a fallacy and then say that you don’t reject fallacies.

    Yes, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. So why don’t you study all of the travesties committed throughout history in the name of one “god” or another and then ask yourself why you’re ignoring that history by believing in unsupportable fairy tales that one ancient tribe happened to believe.

    Hey, I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, went to fundamentalist Christian school from K-12 grade, was born at Bob Jones University (something else I’ve written about: ), so I think I know what Christianity is.

    So, tell me your Jewish credentials, egomaniac, since you claim to know what a “real Jew” is.

    You’ve made this much clear: Trying to reason with you is pointless. You clearly don’t have the necessary tools.

  8. Is Weinstein talking about something like this:
    # Acts 21:32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
    # Acts 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten [them], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
    # Acts 16:37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast [us] into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
    # 2 Corinthians 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned,

    It is a well established fact that many Jewish people think very dimly of proselytizing. I never understood why myself.

    The problem is that bible believing Christians are supporting the Jewish state and the Jewish people. One of the stations I watch is WHME and this station is the only one in the area that broadcasts secular news originating in Israel, prays openly for Israel, sends aid to Israel and otherwise teaches that Christians are to support Israel. My church encourages it’s people to support such efforts as Honest Reporting. In fact we have a shaliach scheduled to speak in an evening service.

    This is hardly the things that anti-Semites do.

    • I have no idea if Weinstein is talking about those things. Ask him.

      This post wasn’t about anti-semitism, it was about Constitutional issues like free speech and separation of church and state. Why do you bring up anti-semitism? Project much?

  9. It is hard discussing scripture with people who don’t take the time to read it and understand it in context. Anti-semitism…really? Those scriptures were not about anti-semitism. They were about anti-proselytizing. It was the Jews and Romans doing the beatings on Christians for proselytizing. If you read the passages in context you will find that the Christian responses to this were:

    Continue preaching (not cursing).
    Forgive their attackers.
    Pray for their attackers because of their ignorance.
    or the worst and most negative response…
    shake off the dust from their feet and leave them to God’s judgment.

    If you read and understand Psalm 109 it is not an unchristian practice to pray that prayer when appropriate. The first 7 verses in the Psalm give the conditions under which the prayer may be uttered. It has to do with things like betrayal in exchange for love toward the betrayer. The Psalm is very clear about who does the sanctioning. It is to be God. This is the beauty of Christianity that it has a God who can act. Liberals seem to only be able to think in materialistic terms and interpret the world in that way.

    As far as separation of Church and State, can the State interpret scripture for a Christian? I have seen all kind of wild interpretations of this verse and prayer by non-christian and anti-christian people. People hear what they want to hear and say what they want to say.

    And a little history. The 501c3 wasn’t always so. It was LBJ’s answer to free speech in the churches when he had trouble in an election. When I grew up there was no such restriction on free speech in the pulpit. And such sanctions are a double edged sword. Once churches are taxed you will find out just what free speech is.

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