SUMMARY: Tempe, Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson has gained national media notice for issuing an anti-Obama "death prayer" and because Anderson's parishioner Chris Broughton showed up, at a townhall event Barack Obama attended, carrying a semi-automatic AR15 assault rifle. But media missed the fact that it was not Anderson's first 'death to Obama' sermon and that Anderson was only one of three national pastors to have declared death-prayers against the new president
Mainstream media scrutiny has failed to notice the extent of eliminationalist anti-Obama populism on the US right. The conspiracy theories that drive right wing anti-government populism are anything but marginal - up to 1/3 of American adults are at least partially in the grip of paranoid right wing conspiracy theories such as "Birther-ism."
Ignoring the phenomenon won't check its spread, and during the 1990's such conspiratorial outlooks helped power both the militia movement and also the GOP's takeover of both houses of Congress.
As Steven Anderson told his congregation on August 16, 2009, "you have probably never heard a sermon like this before. Actually, you probably have if you have been coming to church here for a while. But you know what? Here is my sermon, why I hate Barack Obama. That's my sermon tonight, because Barack Obama is coming to town tomorrow morning."
Pastor Anderson has gained national and international media attention for that sermon, in which he declared he is praying "imprecatory prayer" for Obama's death. Media attention has missed the fact that Anderson preached an almost identical but even more virulently hateful version of the same sermon two days before Barack Obama was inaugurated, during which Anderson appeared to veer over the line into direct incitement, declaring "somebody should abort Barack Obama."
But, Anderson is only one of three nationally recognized Christian pastors who have declared they are praying for the death of the current president of the United States.
Pastor Wiley Drake is a Former Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention who also served as Alan Keyes’ American Independent Party running mate in the 2008 election. Wiley Drake has long been linked with the violent wing of the antiabortion movement and prior to the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, Drake announced he was praying for Tiller’s death. After Tiller’s murder, during a June 2, 2009 appearance on Alan Colmes’ nationally syndicated radio show, Wiley Drake declared that his prayers had been answered and then went on to inform Colmes that he was praying for president Barack Obama’s death (also see here).
A third, and perhaps even more menacing anti-Obama "death prayer pastor" is Peter Peters of the LaPorte, Colorado Church of Christ. During the 1980’s, members of the white supremacist militia group The Order attended Peters’ church and four months after Pastor Pete Peters and his parishioner Colonel Jack Mohr appeared on Jewish talk show host Alan Berg's Denver radio show, during which the radio show host confronted Peters and Mohr about their views, Berg was machine-gunned to death. Members of The Order were later convicted of the murder.
Peters went on to host an October 1992 planning meeting, with white supremacist and NeoNazi leaders, during which an organizing strategy for a national paramilitary network was hammered out. Former Aryan Nations member Floyd Cochran said of Peters, "He doesn’t espouse Hitler. He doesn’t use the swastika or Klan robes. Instead he uses the Bible and the American flag. Peters talks in a language we’re used to hearing. His hatred is masked in God."
Along with Steven Anderson, Peter Peters also gave an anti-Obama imprecatory prayer church service prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration. In Peters' January 19, 2009 sermon, broadcast over the Internet, Pete Peters concluded with a "party crashing" imprecatory prayer to call down divine destruction on Barack Obama’s inaugural celebration:
"On those false oath swearers and false oath takers bring destruction...
Melt and try with your fiery wrath those who with deceit speak lies and refuse to know you. Bring your vengeance upon them and upon them who have given oaths to Satan and false gods in their practice of divination. "
Why should mainstream American society take such incitement seriously ?
As part of the answer to that question, one of the key claims of pastors Anderson, Drake, and Peters is that Barack Obama’s presidency is not legitmate. According to Drake, Obama is a "usurper." All three pastors cite variants of "birther" conspiracy theories which assert Barack Obama was not born in the United States and, therefore, isn’t a US citizen.
The percentage of Americans who believe that class of conspiracy theory, according to a poll conducted in July 2009 for the Daily Kos website by Research 2000, is truly astounding. The poll revealed that only 42% of Republicans were sure Barack Obama was born in the United States. 30% weren’t sure, while 28% believed Obama was not born in the US.
Adding up all the categories [voting blocks and non-voters] from the poll suggests that a little less than 1 out of 6 American adults believe Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US. A little more than one out of six aren’t sure. So, nearly one out of three American adults think Barack Obama might not legitimately by president of the United States.
Simply as a question of electoral politics, these numbers should deeply trouble Democratic Party analysts because the gravitational attractor for Americans who believe in "birther" conspiracy theories appears to be the GOP. There's nothing on the left that even even remotely compares to the teeming, dense tangle of conspiracy narratives such as birtherism, New World Order and Illuminati conspiracy theories that can be found on the American right. And, since the election of Barack Obama, New World Order conspiracy narratives claiming Obama is part of the alleged grand New World Order plot have exploded across the Internet ( see Can 100,000 Anti-Obama New World Order Conspiracy Videos Be Wrong ? ] :
"New World Order conspiracy theories are nothing new, but the sheer scale and range of the current outbreak of NWO conspiricism may be unprecedented. The rise of the Internet and its ability to facilitate homespun rich-media productions has given right wing conspiracy theorists a powerful new tool for spreading anti-government sentiment."
[continue reading Third Nationally-Recognized Pastor Declares Anti-Obama Death-Prayer]
[Below: Pastor Pete Peters' January 19, 2009 imprecatory prayer service against Barack Obama, segments one and two]