On Friday I wrote about Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain who has been trying to raise money and recruit supporters through a Religious Right Web site titled prayinjesusname.org.
Americans United and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) took issue with Klingenschmitt's site and his e-mail alerts that referred to him as "Chaplain Klingenschmitt" and showed him in a Navy uniform. We wrote to Navy officials, arguing that Klingenschmitt was attempting to mislead people, as he is a former chaplain.
I guess we got Klingenschmitt's attention because he has now placed a disclaimer on this Web site admitting he's no longer in the military. And -- apparently still disgruntled -- over the weekend he called on supporters to launch "imprecatory" prayers against AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn and MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein.
For those of you not versed in the finer points of extreme right-wing theology, imprecatory prayers are prayers that bad things will happen to your enemies – things like death, loss of income, loss of property, etc.
"Almighty God, today we pray imprecatory prayers from Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty, including Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein, who recently issued a press release attacking me personally," prays Klingenschmitt on his Web site. "God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround me and tell lies about me. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore, find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with godly people. Plunder their fields and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants. And remember their sins. In Jesus' name. Amen."
You can read the prayer here or listen to it here. (For the printed version, scroll down to "Saturday 25 Apr 09 One-Minute Prayer." Note that there are a few minor differences between the printed version and the audio version.)
This isn't the first time a Religious Right extremist has called for prayers to end Lynn's life. Southern California pastor Wiley Drake has done it twice (after AU blew the whistle on his partisan pulpit politicking).
Drake has always been a bit of a curmudgeon and a crackpot, pastoring a small church. Klingenschmitt, by contrast, was a Navy chaplain. He actually worked in a government job. Imagine serving your country overseas, feeling the need for spiritual solace and walking into this guy's office!
We at AU have said all along that Klingenschmitt was never fit to serve as a military chaplain. A chaplain must be tolerant of all faiths (and those of no faith) and respect the wide religious diversity of our nation. It's not a chaplain's job to seek to convert people or proselytize for his or her particular version of Christianity.
With his crude call for God to smite his enemies, Klingenschmitt has just made our case for us.
P.S. Some of AU's critics on this blog and others have charged that our complaint about Klingenschmitt's misuse of photos of himself in uniform lacks merit. The Navy thinks otherwise. This morning, I received an e-mail from the Judge Advocate General's Office stating, "The Administrative Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General will contact Mr. Klingenschmitt and inform him that, absent an appropriate disclaimer in his correspondence, use of the photograph depicting him in a naval uniform may, in fact, be contrary to federal law."