“God, Would You Please Smite The Following People…”

Suppose you ask a hired gun
To wipe somebody out—
Could you be held responsible?
Of that there’s little doubt.

Protect yourself from legal woes
Behind this false façade—
When issuing a mortal threat,
Pretend you’re asking God!

So long as God is impotent
And cannot have His way—
You want your God to smite my ass?
Then go ahead and pray.

If someone overhears you, and
Decides to be God’s sword—
You’re innocent, cos you were only
Talking to the Lord.

Your prayer was posted publicly,
Where anyone could see—
The claim is still “It’s just a talk
Between the Lord and me.”

It’s funny… if there was a God
You’d ask, your soul to spare—
And if you tried out this defense…
You wouldn’t have a prayer.

Via the Religious News Service (Again, don’t judge me!)

Is it okay to ask God to do harm to another person? The theology of such “imprecatory prayer” may be a matter of debate, but a Dallas judge has ruled it is legal, at least as long as no one is actually threatened or harmed.

District Court Judge Martin Hoffman on Monday (April 2) dismissed a lawsuit brought by Mikey Weinstein against a former Navy chaplain who he said used “curse” prayers like those in Psalm 109 to incite others to harm the Jewish agnostic and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and his family.

Of course, God works in mysterious ways–sometimes, for God to answer a prayer, you have to post it publicly, in a place where bad people who want to get on God’s good side can read it.

Weinstein, a former Air Force lawyer who started the foundation to battle what he sees as undue religious influence in the armed forces, said Friday (April 6) that “a very aggressive appeal is highly likely.” He said he has received numerous death threats, had swastikas painted on his house, and that his windows have been shot out and animal carcasses left on his doorstep as a result of his activism.

“We are disappointed in the ruling because we believe the judge made a mistake in not understanding that imprecatory prayers are code words for trolling for assassins for the Weinstein family,” Weinstein said. “I don’t think the judge understood that these are not regular prayers,” he added, comparing imprecatory prayer to a radical Islamic fatwa.

Yeah, see, cos God is love, so it’s up to the people who love God to do God’s killin’ for Him. But hey, religion is the backbone of human decency–if it were not for religion, we’d all be savages.

“Thankfully, the district court recognized that if people are forced to stop offering imprecatory prayers, half the churches, synagogues and mosques in this country will have to be shut down,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, a legal advocacy group that helped defend the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches.

Y’know, if I had said that, I’d have probably edited it out for sounding too cynical.


  1. baal says

    The Rwandan genocide was directed in part via radio stations directing the killers. They didn’t say, “go kill this man” rather they used slightly more round about language. I don’t mean to suggest the people of MRFF are the equivalent of that genocide. I do mean to suggest that this type of semi-veiled language is fit for convictions for crimes against humanities charges.

    I don’t see why being “prayer” should save the bad guy. Let’s hear it for xtian privilege?

  2. says

    Wow…another story that just leaves me saying “wow”. I suppose the line needs to be drawn at how one defines “prayer”. If someone prays for something and keeps it in their head, then no problem. To convict anyone of that is reminiscent of Orwell’s “thought crime”. It would be silly.

    However, once a prayer is made public, then it moves beyond the normal version of internal prayer. A public prayer is no different than a public speech. The same would hold true for a written publication of a prayer. I am not a lawyer, and am not too familiar with how the courts have treated those issues in the past. It would seem to me that if the Navy Chaplan wrote publicly or spoke publicly about wishing harm towards Weinstein then the whole prayer conversation should become moot. It is nothing more than a call for violence against a single person.

    Two things come to mind for me here. First that the case was dismissed and that we need to even talk about this is absurd. Two, is this another example of the religious “moral highground”? If so, no thanks, I’ll pass on that.

  3. says

    Your verses capture how many ways this is wrong so perfectly, I can’t even. Especially the last stanza – how do you do it?

    I was appalled when I read that the Texas judge dismissed Mikey Weinstein’s lawsuit.

    Thanks for reminding me I wanted to write about this. Now I can link to your awesome poem, too!

  4. kmhughes says

    What are the laws in this country about fatwas? Are those considered legal? I would hope not, since they aren’t prayers. But I don’t see how this is much different once someone gets the idea in their head that they should carry the prayer out. Glurg.

  5. Dorothy says

    Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

    The pope found the king guilty of incitement to murder. Shouldn’t it work the same way?

  6. bassmanpete says

    But surely Weinstein’s lawsuit was just another example of Christianity being victimised!

  7. Die Anyway says

    “Thankfully, the district court recognized that if people are forced to stop offering imprecatory prayers, half the churches, synagogues and mosques in this country will have to be shut down,”

    I don’t quite understand; if the court recognized such a great opportunity, why didn’t they act on it immediately. Opportunity knocks but this judge failed to anwer the door. Damn. $2 says judge is a Xtian.

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