A Focus on the Family Action broadcaster has apologized for a tongue-in-cheek video asking people to pray for rain during Barack Obama’s outdoor speech at next week’s Democratic National Convention, but a former Southern Baptist Convention officer quickly took up the cause.
Stuart Shepard, a former TV meteorologist who does a weekly video commentary taking a light-hearted view on conservative Christian issues, asked July 30 “would it be wrong?” to pray for rain during Obama’s Aug. 28 appearance to accept the Democratic nomination for president at Denver’s Invesco Field.
“Not flood-people-out-of-their-houses rain, just good old swamp-the-intersection rain,” Shepard said. His reason for wanting God to rain on Obama’s parade? The Illinois senator’s views on abortion and gay marriage.
“I’m still pro life, and I’m still in favor of marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Shepard said in his video. “And I would like the next president who will select justices for the next Supreme Court to agree.”
Focus on the Family Action pulled the video after members of the ministry complained. YouTube also took it down, citing a copyright claim.
Shepard followed with a “Mea Culpa” video describing his week, which included Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” designation Aug. 11.
“While some of our regular viewers said they enjoyed the video in question, still others respectfully and thoughtfully expressed concerns about it,” Shepard said. “And since we produce these videos for our viewers, we pulled it out of respect for you. So to all our viewers, I apologize.”
Wiley Drake, former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, responded with a press release saying he was saddened by the video’s removal and encouraging people to ask God to “bring on the rain” during his daily “Telephonic Prayer Meeting.”
“I too am still against killing babies and allowing sodomites to marry,” Drake said. “Stuart Shepard is invited to lead us in this prayer for rain any day. Other prayer warriors are welcome not only to pray for rain but repentance in America as well.”
Drake reiterated his belief in “imprecatory prayer,” used in the Old Testament to invoke evil on one’s enemies. Drake earlier made headlines when he called for such prayers against staff members of American United for Separation of Church and State for complaining to the IRS about Drake’s use of church letterhead and a church-based radio program to endorse presidential candidate Mike Huckabee last August.
Before that, Drake, the unconventional pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., was best known as a driving force behind the SBC’s Disney boycott in the 1990s. Well known for making numerous motions at SBC annual meetings, messengers rewarded Drake by electing him second vice president in 2006.
Drake immediately embarrassed SBC officials by creating a letterhead identifying him as a convention officer and using it to endorse a candidate for the U.S. Senate. That prompted a “cease and desist” letter from a member of the SBC Executive Committee staff.
This year Drake was one of six persons nominated as SBC president. He received less than 1 percent of the vote, won on the first ballot by Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.