Praying for God to hurt someone is not illegal, judge rules

Is it okay to ask God to do harm to another person? The theology of such “imprecatory prayer” may be … Continued

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.

Hoffman said there was no evidence that the prayers by Gordon Klingenschmitt, who had been endorsed for the Navy chaplaincy by the Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, were connected to threats made against Weinstein and his family or damage done to his property.

According to the lawsuit, Klingenschmitt posted a prayer on his website urging followers to pray for the downfall of MRFF.

“I praise God for religious freedom because the judge declared it’s OK to pray imprecatory prayers and quote Psalm 109,” Klingenschmitt said after the ruling, according to The Dallas Morning News. Psalm 109 calls for the death of an opponent and curses on his widow and children, among other things.

Hoffman’s ruling did not actually turn on constitutional questions as much as it did on Weinstein’s claims that the prayers incited the threats and vandalism.

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.

Imprecatory prayers have a long if complicated history in religious traditions. But this type of prayer, and Psalm 109 in particular, has become a hot topic since President Obama’s election as a number of religious conservatives have invoked it against him.

In the most recent case, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Kansas, Mike O’Neal, sparked an outcry in January when he sent Psalm 109 to Republican colleagues, writing, “At last — I can honestly voice a biblical prayer for our president!”

“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.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Universal Uclick.

  • SODDI

    “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,”

    And that would be a bad thing how? I mean, if they are all praying for the physical harm or death of individuals.

    Anyway, Klingenschmitt, O’Neal and Whitehead are clear examples of Christianity’s real gospel – a gospel of HATE. Klingenschmitt’s is even state-sponsored, showing the Constitution up for impotent document that it is.

    I hope Klingenschittand his family are raped to death by rabid hyenas.

  • Secular1

    My sentiments exactly SODDI. Indeed that idiot’s quote about closing half the churches, synagogues, & mosques is so telling and a confession, it is not funny only because it is true.

  • Buddy999

    Not to mention that it would be an excellent start

Read More Articles

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.