Huckabee Should Denounce Death Prayers as Tactic

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Interfaith Alliance Calls on Candidate to Disavow Pastor Who Prays for the Deaths of AU Staffers

Washington, DC – Today the Interfaith Alliance wrote a letter to presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee to denounce a pastor who is praying for the deaths of staffers at Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). The pastor was criticized by AU, a Washington-D.C. advocacy organization after using church resources to endorse Gov. Huckabee (R) in his presidential campaign.

When Pastor Wiley Drakes of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, CA endorsed Gov. Huckabee on church letterhead, AU issued a press release calling for an IRS investigation of improper church political activity. Pastor Drakes responded with a call to imprecatory prayer. Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance defines imprecatory prayer as prayer that “denounces a person and conveys a wish or threat of evil against him or her.” Rev. Gaddy characterizes this call as “hateful and divisive rhetoric.”

This week on State of Belief, The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s national radio show, the executive director of AU, Rev. Barry Lynn discusses this incident. During the interview, Rev. Gaddy asked Rev. Lynn to join him in asking Huckabee to denounce the kinds of tactics used by Pastor Drake and his advocates.

The full letter reads:

August 17, 2007

The Huckabee for President Exploratory Committee, Inc.

P.O. Box 2008

Little Rock, Arkansas 72203


Dear Governor Huckabee:

The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) is a non-partisan, grassroots organization with 185,000 members drawn from 75 different faith traditions and 75 activist groups across the country. Members of The Interfaith Alliance understand and appreciate the power of religion to be a positive and healing force in people’s lives individually and in the nation as a whole.

This week on my national radio show, State of Belief, I am joined by Rev. Barry Lynn of American’s United for Separation of Church and State (AU). We talk about Pastor Wiley S. Drake’s call for followers to pray for the demise of AU staff. As the president of The Interfaith Alliance, and as a former member of AU’s board, I was sickened to here such vitriolic rhetoric inserted into a political campaign by a member of the clergy.

Governor Huckabee, I ask you to disassociate yourself from this type of hateful and divisive rhetoric. As a political candidate on the national stage, you have a unique opportunity to positively impact civic debate. Furthermore, the importance and influence of a house of worship can not be overstated. Religion should play a role in this year’s elections, but not as not as a tool to demonize others. Political authority and religious authority should never be confused.

Again, I respectfully ask that you model civility in public discourse by disassociating yourself from the hateful and divisive rhetoric displayed by Rev. Drake. On behalf of the 185,000 members of The Interfaith Alliance, I implore you to join us in protecting the integrity of religion and the vitality of democracy.

Thank you for your time and please feel to contact me should you like to further discuss this. I can be reached at 202-238-3300.


Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

President, The Interfaith Alliance

Pastor of Preaching and Worship, Northminster Baptist Church (Monroe, LA)