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June 12th, 2009
06:34 AM ET

Avlon: ‘Wingnuts’ spread hate of Obama, Jews

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

Reverend Jeremiah Wright (L) and Pastor Wiley S. Drake (R). Getty Images.

Reverend Jeremiah Wright (L) and Pastor Wiley S. Drake (R). Getty Images.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center reaffirms that America is a religious nation, but it also shows that young voters across the political spectrum are turning away from the inter-mixed influence of religion on politics.

This week’s wingnuts on the left and right offer examples of why the separation of church and state is making a common sense comeback for this new generation – the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Pastor Wiley Drake.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright became a staple of campaign ’08 with comments that elevated him to all-time Wingnut Hall of Fame. But after he almost sank former parishioner Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency, Rev. Wright mercifully faded into the background.

That was until this week when he reinserted himself into the political debate with an interview to Virginia’s Daily Press, in which he said: “Them Jews aren't going to let him [President Obama] talk to me." Read more

This off-hand anti-Semitism brings to mind the reverend’s previously infamous sermons. There were his post-9/11 comments that “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

There was the accusation that the U.S. government was behind the AIDS virus and the infamous riff that “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”

In this week’s comments, Rev. Wright reaffirmed that he has no regrets for these and other flashes of extremism from his 20 years on the pulpit in Chicago, which were characterized by content as well as controversy. At a time when President Obama is trying to build new bridges to moderates throughout the Middle East, Rev. Wright’s comments remain unhelpful in the extreme.

On the right is a less widely-known name. Pastor Wiley Drake served as a second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, he ran to be vice president of the United States alongside former ambassador and Obama adversary Alan Keyes on a fringe third party ticket. Now he says that he is praying for President Obama’s death after his prayers for the death of Kansas abortionist George Tiller were "answered."


Drake’s comments were first reported by the Associated Baptist Press. In a follow-up interview with radio show host Alan Colmes, Drake defended his statements by saying, “George Tiller was far greater in his atrocities than Adolf Hitler…so I am happy. I am glad that he is dead.” Then he went a good deal farther into the outer-reaches of crazytown by revealing that he has also been offering "imprecatory prayers” against “the usurper that is in the White House…B. Hussein Obama.”

When offered repeated chances to clarify or correct his comment, the Orange County-based preacher dug even deeper. “If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death, that's correct."

These are not just “extreme prayers” – as some have said – this is the most un-Christian prayer imaginable and Southern Baptist Convention was quick to denounce the comments. Drake himself tries to avoid responsibility by saying simply that whether the prayers are answered is the will of God, he is just a messenger. But his comments do a great disservice to all members of the faith community – many of whom have influenced our politics in positive and profound ways – from Billy Graham to Martin Luther King to Rick Warren.

Wingnuts are sometimes silly, sometimes serious and sometimes downright scary. But in all cases we can best confront their extremism by addressing it directly, because – as the old saying goes – sunlight is the best disinfectant. In this case, no person or political party should act like it owns the Bible  and this week’s wingnuts prove that both the right and left have voices on the pulpit who try to divide us rather than unite us.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.


Filed under: Wingnuts of the week
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. jd

    the wingnuts have taken over DC.... BHO, pelosi, and reid are the biggest danger to America.

    They continually get passes from the left wing media as they kick the bricks out of the foundation of America. liberal whine about bush, but the damage bho is doing will far surpass anything bush did.

    June 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  2. RC

    I think Obama has the potential to be one of our best presidents. After all, we've had 8 years of one of the worst in the history of our country. He has a lot of things to fix and correct. Let's all hope and pray he does. After all, we used to be far more prosperous, liked and respected in the world, and I hope we get there in the next 4 years. Another reason I hope he/we achieve that goal is that it would be a huge slap in the face to such wingnuts like Rush Limbaugh who want Obama to fail, and religious wackos and white supremacists who want a black man to fail. These people claim to be patriotic. What they are is pathetic.

    June 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  3. Mr Really

    I caught some of Rev Wrights speech and it seems to me that if Christ were alive today it would be another crucifixion. Has anyone delved into the hell that is called Palestine. After 61 years life has only gotten worse at the hands of such heroes as Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu refuse to treat these people as human beings. Shame on them for doling out living conditions similar to what the Jews experienced under Hitler and his assault on Warsaw.

    I worked with a person from Palestine around the time that Ariel decided to enter the temple on the mount accompanied by armed guards. What we do if Putin sent Russian troops to the Vatican to intimidate Christians or Al-Queda open shop in Jerusalem.

    I have no love lost for the parties that currently control the West Bank or Gaza and directly blame Arafat for that fiasco however who was to blame in 1982 when over 700 refugees were murdered as Sharon watched.

    I doubt this will be posted because it is not the view supported by AIPACS but I am really tired of them running foreign policy for our country and the wining when they are questioned. I believe in a love relationship and will always love the Israelis for the fortitude and persistence surviving over 5000 years. I do believe they are chosen and they have earned a place by God. But on the same note I can love a person, race or culture and still not approve of their actions. I would not be a real friend if I did other. People stop eating the chum we are being fed and look at the facts.

    There can be no peace without truth as we are experiencing after our follies in the Middle East. Take time today and pray for peace, tolerance and understanding because this is the only answer to salvation for the whole human race. Peace .

    June 12, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  4. julio

    But we not merely support, but actually sponsor, externally applied state terrorism against the Palestinans in their own country.

    At US$11B a year "aid" plus all the replacement F15's , cluster bombs and phosphorus incendiaries needed for controlling the starving inmates of the Gaza Ghetto and the refugees in Lebanon.

    Just because the truth is spoken by unlikable people, doesn't make it a lie. It's the Victors who get to rewrite History, not the victims.

    June 12, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  5. buckwheat

    All racist are not white but if you ask CNN they are. A good example of it is the coverage, or lack of coverage, of the Army recruter ,who was killed and another wounded by a Black man who claims to be a new Muslim convert. We have had non stop coverage of the white lunatic who shot the guard at the Holocaust museum in the national media and local papers and only a drive by mention for the recruter killing. What is the difference CNN except color of the offenders? We are not all your deciples and plead ignorance.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Robert

    >>>And we wonder why so many people do not want to go to church?! We see these idiots running around with doom and gloom on a constant bases. These so call christians are the biggest hypocrites ever!<<<

    Those folks are not representative of Christianity.

    Of course the "Freedom From Religion" hate group said that all religious people are hard hearted and mentally enslaved. Should I paint you with that same anti-theist attitude?

    The fact is the Bible says that any person who hates is not a Christian.

    1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

    June 12, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  7. notphased

    Anyone in here can google the evil history of the U.S. but if anyone speaks of this history out loud they are considered "haters" and unpatriotic.. meanwhile history is being rewritten everyday.
    I really dont understand.
    All this is b.s anyway. . its a distraction from whats really important.
    Americans have no clue where America is headed. Our forefathers we speak of had a different agenda. The revolution will not be televised. We are frogs in a big pot.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  8. Gbo

    Please do your research before using nicknames in an attempt to disparage people. The term "Wingnut" comes from the USAF, referring to those career USAFers who were dedicated to their organization. The term not only associates wings with aircraft, but an upper echelon of group within a Command, such as a Tactical Fighter Wing or Bombardment Wing. These folks should not be viewed in the light as you shine on the nickname "Wingnuts".

    June 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  9. Dan

    A great example to show the difference between the far left and the far right. The far left says stupid things. The far right are more prone to violence. We had this shooting, the 3 policemen in Pittsburgh, and the abortion doctor in the last few months. (The guy in Pittsburg was mad because Obama was going to take away his guns) I hope Rush, Anne, Hannity, etc. are beginning to understand that people like von Brunn are a large portion of their base. That is why their party is going down the tubes.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  10. Jonathan

    Mmm...wingnuts...

    June 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  11. debra

    Funny how extremists who pray for harm/death to come to President Obama (or anyone else they don't like) think they are "in" exclusively with God and that God will answer their misguided "prayers;" are they so narrow minded that it does not occur to them that there are thousands of others "out there" who pray on a daily basis for the President's saftey and ask God to watch over and guide him and keep him safe from all harm! We've got to balance their hatred with an outpouring of love and compassion, and build up enough of a critical mass, so that good will triumph over evil!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  12. Craig

    "Greg, extremists are cockroaches who operate like cowards in the shadows. By shining a light on them we as a society publicly shame them and show them for the fools they are."

    Beautifully put, and worth re-posting.

    Great article. The faster and more vehemently we shine the light, the quicker we disinfect. And find peace. Keep it up.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  13. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    Not censorship but common sense. Rush & Newt could have chosen to discuss their differences with Judge Sotomayor: they didn't. They just called her "racist" and their blind followers repeated the word and worked themselves into a hate-filled lather.

    Debate is good for democracy: Spewing hate-filled rhetoric based on nothing is not. You can disagree without being disagreeable – unless your position is so feeble that all you have is radical rhetoric.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  14. Ben

    For those that say the shooter at the Holocaust is a "right-wing extremist"... You do realize that he spent a lot of his time ranting about "neocons" and Bill O'Reilly, right? Seems like if anything, he'd be a left-wing extremist. (Although, in my opinion, he is just a complete nutcase, no wings required.)

    June 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  15. jeff

    I hope the secret service is opening files and keeping tabs on anyone who threatens the president with these "wishes of death". All of these nut jubs need to be rounded up and put in detension camps as enemies of the state. I know that I will forward the names of anyone who says they want the president dead, and I would have done the same for Bush or any president. The government knows who these groups and people are on the fringes of society who contribute nothing to our society they all have criminal backgrounds and obvious mental health issues, all patriotic american citizens should be aware of these groups and report any suspious activity to local law enforcement, FBI and secret service. These people are inbred terrorists and should be treated as such. Remember Oklahoma City and blood of those innocent americans killed by the hands of white trash terrorist Tim McVay and Terry Nichols. Both white and both members of this extremist underworld that is much larger threat to our country then any middle eastern wack job.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  16. tina

    These types of "preachers" are the # 1 reason my adult son and others like him will not attend church. These radical individuals are paraded in the media (although I did appreciate your article) and this is what young people see, instead of the true Christians who go about their daily lives serving God by serving others, and believing that their lives should reflect Jesus' teachings to Love One Another. It's a shame that so many are turned away by the rantings of a few. I continue to talk with my son about religion and pray that he will eventually see past the squawking, look at his mother's example, and seek out a church that welcomes all without this type of "preaching."

    June 12, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  17. 242

    hate to break it to some of you conservatives, but Rev Wright is not a left winger.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  18. docwatson

    Hey S. Williams!! So in your universe, Adolph Hitler is in Heaven with G*d??? Count me out....as Mr. Lennon once said...Imagine!!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  19. waylon

    I would hope that since we have come so far with our technology that some of you would just open your eyes. RELIGION is killing our world. KILLING OUR WORLD!!!!!!!! We would have no wars right now if it wasn't for religion. It doesn't matter if you are in a peaceful religion or an activist religion, in the end the same results. DEATH

    June 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  20. larrywi

    Funny you freely offer comment about this obvious hate crime that was directed at the Jews, but you say nothing about the Army Private who was killed by a fricking US born Muslim terrorist. Even that moron we have for a President commented about the Museum killing, but has not said a damn word about his "brother" that killed the Private, why do ya think that is!!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  21. Ben

    Ardwulf: "The thing is that extremists DO speak for the groups they represent. Rush Limbaugh does speak for the Republican Party because the party does not denounce him when he makes racist and anti-American statements"

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. For you to compare Rush Limbaugh to these other idiots shows your idiocy.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  22. Soulfinger

    I love this segment. Lets shine a bright light on them and let everyone see just how crazy they sound. Its so sad that these are two supposed memebers of the church yet they are preaching hate. I as a black woman, am soooo ashamed of Rev. Wright. He should just keep his biggoted mouth shut for nobody cares what he has to say. I wish they would just go away and stay away.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  23. Jay

    Where in the bible does it say abortion is tantamount to murder? These people are the ones trying to break down society and tear down America. Why do we give these jerks a voice anyway? Who cares what 2 schmucks say? I wonder, If Drake is fervently praying for Obama's death, what else would he do to ensure it happens? Its funny, if right wing radicals were in the white house this simpleton would be brought up on charges.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  24. Corey

    Hey Allison thanks for straightening the rest of us out on his title. Now lets touch on what the wackjob was spewing. Let try to keep our fingers on the pulse. Religion is slowly tearing into the fabric of our society. Pray on Sunday, Sin on Monday.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  25. Bob

    There is no sense in claiming that religion should be separate from politics, unless you believe that Christians should not participate in politics. Anyone who takes their faith seriously must consider it when voting or holding office.

    Besides, Wright and Wiley are correct in regards to what the Bible says. The Bible offers specific warnings against many (if not most) foreign and domestic policies that have been in practice in the US since it's inception. It hardly seems fair to call someone a "wingnut" when they are merely stating facts and expressing personal views in light of the presented facts. People say we are not supposed to hate, but the Bible says we should hate Evil. People who claim to hate nothing are liars in any case.

    This series is comprised of superficial platitudes, which fall apart under deeper reflection and introspection. It also promotes hate, which I am told is a bad thing (though I doubt that's true).

    On the other hand, we should not promote ignorance. As far as I can tell, that is the primary function of the news media. Most religious leaders and leaders of every kind do it as well.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  26. wishing

    This week’s wingnuts on the left and right offer examples of why the separation of church and state is making a common sense comeback for this new generation.

    How do the young (and you) feel about any ordained minister running for office, i.e., Huckabee and Romney?

    June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  27. Angry Left Must Stop

    The angry left must stop. 1st killing army recruits and now shooting in the Holocaust museum, this nut was going out for a conservative magazine next, crazy stuff...

    June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  28. Kevin H

    Yes, unfortunately we ARE a religious nation...this is also a fundamental cause of our intentional ignorance and backward-thinking which leads us away from the path of pragmatism and progress and towards the impending hell that is unreason and doctrinal adherence. The sooner we back away from our bronze-age past and start using our BRAINS the better off we shall be.

    And this isn't merely theoretical–the most atheistic countries in the world right now also have the highest standards of living: Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Finland are good examples. Meanwhile, the Middle East is the MOST religious place of anywhere and look what's happening. Think it's a coincidence? I think you'd have to be a casuist to believe that; but statistically speaking, you probably are...

    June 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  29. Canadian Bacon

    As a born again Christian, i am in glad the SBC denonuced this Wiley fellow. The bible is clear that we are to pray for those in authority over us, not their demise. God is in charge and BO couldn't be in that position unless He allowed it. Please don't take that to mean BO is doing God's work. I don't believe that BO is a true believer in the biblical sense because of his policies and stands on certain issues. But, God is the judge and not me.
    We will see what becomes of America under this man (not god as some treat him). I fear it's the beginning of the end of a great nation that did immensely more good in this world than bad.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  30. Shelia Manely

    President Obama was schooled in the Unitarian Universalist Tradition at the church in Hawaii where his Grandmother attended. In Unitarian Universalism, we welcome voices seeking truth from all faith traditions. We honor our Christian and Jewish heritage. What we don't accept is a failure to honor the inherent dignity and worth in all – which is our 1st of 7 principles. The religious leaders cited have turned their back on their Christian teachings which call on them to love their neighbor. Unitarian Universalism, the faith of our President's youth, is a loving and intellectual alternative to religious fanatacism.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  31. GO RED WINGS

    HAY, DONT CALL THEM WING NUTS ,REDWINGS HOCKEY OWN THAT .

    June 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  32. Wingnuttia-Free Zone

    Excuse me. Exactly whom was Reverend Wright threatening to kill or wishing would be killed?

    Typical pandering to the right-wingnuts going on here. Drake is wishing our POTUS dead and celebrating murder. Wright is being his ignorant, racist old self.

    How are the Wright and Drake remarks equivalent? What? Can't criticize the right without bringing down the left, however flimsy the comparison?

    CNN suffers from FAUX News envy.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  33. Ben

    Bob: "Let’s face it – too many religions spread violent venom. By spreading a religion free message of peace, and by outing the wingnuts, we will have a better chance of a good life"

    You miss the point entirely. Religion isn't the problem, it's the people running the religion, who claim to be all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-holy, that are the problem. People need to quit condemning religion. We need it now more than ever.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  34. Michael Williams

    Search KOSHER TAX to see how you are being ripped off by militant Rabbis when you buy products. Millions of your dollars are being taken by Zionists without your knowledge.

    And where's the story of AIPAC (the largest "wingnut" of them all) skewing America's foreign policy and stealing our military secrets.

    WAKE UP AMERICA.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  35. Thain

    You're seriously comparing Jeremiah Wright's comments to expressing pleasure at the murder of George Tiller and the hope for Obama's death?

    June 12, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  36. CosmicConservative

    Yeah, I remember all the CNN stories titled:
    "Moonbats" spread the hate of G W Bush and Jews."

    By the way, in case you haven't realized it, conservatives are among Israel's strongest supporters, and I have frankly never seen an anti-semitic remark on a conservative blog.

    But I've seen PLENTY anti-semitic remarks on liberal blogs.

    I think this is a classic example of CNN seeing what they want to see, and reporting what they want to report. It fits the narrative they want to create and pound into the national consciousness.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  37. buckwheat

    Now we know why Obama kept Wright shut up along with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton during that campaign. The new America can not stand the old hate preachers. Obama should put a muzzle on Leonard Pitts too before he turns the world againest this President and screws up this power grab that is in progress.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  38. teacheng

    I'm not sure I would call Rev. Wright part of the "left." (because he's black?) However, the point is well taken. The more we expose and understand this kind of hate, the less power people like Wright and Drake have.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  39. Rickey Spallone

    This is just another example of how extremely religious people, of any religion, are the very first to resort to violence, or hope and pray for people’s death. Religion, by its very nature provides ‘final’, ‘undisputable’ answers, totally discrediting adversarial views.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  40. omgamike

    Years ago I stopped going to any church and cut any affiliation to any organized religion. There is way too much hypocrisy in the organized religions. People who will go to church on Sunday to ask for forgiveness for their sins, then once they walk out of the church, start to once again lead lives that Jesus, or Mohammed, or whomever else, would cringe at being witness to. These two individuals are just the current examples of religious behavior gone wild.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  41. A-man

    As the number of moderates increases, the extremists are becoming more disenfranchised. Thus, they are also becoming more violent. In a way, this sad sequence of events marks something good, the end of extremist influences on American politics. Thank goodness!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  42. Richard

    These people are not just wingnuts. These are dangerous charasmatic people who influence loose cannons who carry out violent acts. In other more civilized, and less violent countries, such as Canada, and parts of Europe, people who speak hate that encourages violence, are arrested and charged with promoting hate and violence. Please let us move in this direction.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  43. Sean

    Ardwulf: If Rush speaks for all Republicans because no one repudiates them, then am I to believe that all the liberal POS's out there like, David Letterman, who thinks it would be funny if A-rod committed statutory rape against Sarah Palins 14 year old daughter, speak for you? Sounds fair.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  44. Fletch

    I someone prays for the death of the President and truly believes that prayer will be answered, does that constitute making a threat against the President? George Orwell would be proud of these people who wish harm on America while holding themselves to be more patriotic than the rest of us.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  45. Rich

    Didn't Billy Graham say the same things about Jews controlling the country that the Holocaust Museum killer say? How quickly we conveniently forget.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  46. JER5EY

    Funny how the rhetoric of both Wright and Drake, niether of which deserve the right to be called a "Reverend" or a "Pastor", sounds a little like BinLaden & the other Queda & Taliban nuts. They spread dislike and hate, and then hide behind God and say they are just the catalyst of the Lord's Word.
    May they, and all like them, burn in hell for the torment they are causing the human race.
    Love your brother, no matter what his religion, skin color or nationality.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  47. Joanna in PA

    This all is so disturbing. The right wing has gone crazy. aside from false tails of Obama and his agenda that are fiction. we have people like rush the GOP leader saying Obama is worse than al queda? That he isn't a citizen, come on now!! There is proof and those that deny it aren't looking at the truth! It is hate speak that is provoking this extremist behavior. I said months ago that the right wing is just one suicide attack away from being just like Osama. Now they are just like him. I have know idea what can be done, but i am scared. Enough people. Does our country consist of a bunch of fifth graders now. Where are the adults in the right wing?
    I get these surveys from Steele that are leading and hate provoking. I throw them right in the trash!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  48. John

    The term "wingnut" refers specifically to right wing extremist, not left wing.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  49. Kierthos

    Frankly, I think a solution would be that if preachers want to speak obviously political opinions from their 'pulpits' then their churches should lose any tax-exempt status that they have.

    Pretty quickly you'll see more preachers thinking twice before they open their mouths and say insanely stupid things.

    Also, the Secret Service should start investigating Drake.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  50. Sean

    The most telling comment from Rev White is the last quote from the CNN article. How does this register against Obama's lie about going to this church for 20 years and never hearing this kind of speech?

    "Regret for what…that the media went back five, seven, 10 years and spent $4,000 buying 20 years worth of sermons to hear what I've been preaching for 20 years?" he said. "Regret for preaching like I've been preaching for 50 years? Absolutely none."

    June 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  51. AP

    RJ,

    Non Sequitur....

    June 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  52. Anna

    Evidently we have a longgggggg way to go before these people just go away...

    The scariest part is that there are people who listen and absorb these knids of comments, and if you haven't noticed, Obama obviously let it in one ear and out the other... Some people can't do that and often end up commiting acts based on thier "sacred beliefs"

    ... I never understood the whole love affair with religion on either side/ right or left.. Isn't it amazing that those who thump those bibles are the same people who adovcate this sort of talk and language as well as actions as seen in the past weeks.. talk about hypocrisy...Both shocking and disgusting really...

    Bottom line, hopefully rationality and spirituality can come together without insanity in the mix...

    June 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  53. Cobra Montana

    Hope his prayers are answered!!!!!!!!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  54. Binsonji E Madilu

    I agree with Avlon that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Hatemongers need to be exposed. Rev. Jeremiah Wright is just green with envy! Perhaps he would have liked to be President of the United States himself! As for those who invoke imprecatory prayers for the death of President Obama, they should know by now that God does not answer that kind of prayers. A certain senator from New York who made the same kind of prayer found out that for the sake of this country, it is better to work with the president than against him. We should follow the example.

    B. E. Madilu

    June 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  55. Steve Williams

    Open letter to mister Drake.

    Dear sir:
    If I were you, I would pray real hard that nothing happens to anyone else as a result of your prayers. First, when you die, and you will, God does not judge you but simply lets you experience your life through the experience of all of the souls you impacted positively or negatively. Hitler got to experience the deaths of 20 million or so souls before he went to heaven, I hope you are wiser. Second, if you are a man of god then what in the world kind of example are you setting. I am ashamed to say that I once belonged to the Southern Baptist Church. You and the church will never get another dime or minute of my time. What a waste.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  56. Ardwulf

    The thing is that extremists DO speak for the groups they represent. Rush Limbaugh does speak for the Republican Party because the party does not denounce him when he makes racist and anti-American statements. Indeed, they bend over backwards to suck up to even the most egregious purveyors of hate speech. Wiley Drake does speak for Baptists, becuase Baptists have traditionally been lukewarm, at best, in their criticism of hate and fanaticism. Why would a neutral observer conclude that ardent anti-abortionists aren't all cut from the same cloth as that nut who killed George Tiller, when a bunch of them were on TV immediately afterward saying stuff like "we repudiate this act, but we're all glad he's dead."?

    No, it isn't fair, but if you don't want extremists to be seen as representative of your group, you need to be clear and vigorous in denouncing abhorrent acts committed and reprehensible words spoken by those extremists. Moderate Muslims have much the same issue.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  57. Brian

    Wingnuts are out in force because they feel threatened. Their ideology is falling apart in front of their eyes and they're enraged by it. I could care less what someone is, I'll either like them for who they are or not like them for who they are. Black, White, Muslim, Catholic, Jewish...who really even cares anymore? We should stop tossing labels around and treat everyone as people.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  58. writingmomma

    Many people can call themselves a "Pastor" or "Reverand" . But, there are many that truly live up to the name. There are many that will use the name of the Lord to grandstand for themselves. But, one thing for sure, Jesus called the Pharisees and the Suddesees by the right names, "vipers". There are many vipers still to this day. To be a true follower and teacher of Jesus Christ, you must love everyone and allow God to be their final judge. I see a bunch of hyprocrits calling themselves "Pastor" or Reverend". They stand in the pulpits on Sunday and talk about "loving even your enemies", yet they will rip you up one side and tear you down the next.
    These aren't "Christians"! These are grandstanders and vipers. What ever happened to being meek and lowly? There aren't any signs of meekness in the character of these men. "Holiness" is a very strong word. It looks to me that they need to go back into the bible and find out what Jesus and Holiness really means.
    "Love your neighbor as you love yourself". These are not neighbor loving men. These are self loving men.
    I am sickened by the amount of evil and hatred that I see in our homeland. The lack of togetherness is what is breeding the hatred abroad.
    If we stood together as "One nation, under God, indivisible (inseparable, indissoluble, undividable), with liberty and justice for all", we would be an awesome country.
    Where is the unity? Stop fighting against one another and build this country into a mighty nation. Aren't we all "AMERICANS"?

    June 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  59. David

    This article is really off the mark. This is the same type of argument that comes from republicans when they are forced to take even the smallest bit of responsibility for their actions. They have to go to 'everybody' is just as wrong, before they can admit their own horrible wrong doing.

    An article about two extremist preachers in the background, is nothing compared to the FOX News show's extremely offensive comments and false accusations about our president and our government 24 hours a day broadcast to millions of people. The 'murders' who killed an innocent doctor in CHURCH, along with an innocent security guard are a direct response to the Fox News/Sarah Palin war on America.

    No matter how you try to spin the situation....sane Americans and the rest of the world, understand the danger that the GOP Right Wing Extremist Group poses for America and the world.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  60. Pat

    Keep that sunshine coming! We may not be able to prevent hate speech, but we can respond to it.

    Let us declare that the days are done when we simply sit aside and say "well, that's his opinion" as though such talk was as valid as any other. We need to respond calmly, but purposely, to condem the hatred, challenge the misstatements, and deride the attitudes that are so alien to our way of life.

    Write to the churches of these men and tell them that we will not be attending their services until they remove their collar from people who practice hate speech. Repeat to them the Biblical admonition to resolve our conflicts with our bretheren BEFORE approaching the altar of God. Tell them that until they remove men such as these as officiants we cannot sit in a congregation and address God with a good conscience or straight face.

    Stop listening to, and buying products from the sponsors of hate speech on the radio. Do not buy the books of haters. Turn off the channel when one of them gets air time. The sponsors of sensationalism will lose their taste for such "talent" if we refuse to provide an audience.

    I will leave it to each of you to decide who does and does not speak hate. I feel no need to inflict my views on you. I know hate when I hear it and I have every confidence that you do too. If each of us will do our part for what we as individuals think is right, we will corral this undisciplined, unprincipled, undemocratic abuse of our fundamental freedom of speech. We are free to speak....just not free to speek irresponsibly.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  61. Ed in Tx

    I absolutely agree A. Nonymous, you could'nt have put it any better... These ignorant "cockroaches" are the new breed of hate mongers that hide behind their vails of religion!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  62. Dean in Boca

    If we've learned anything from 9/11 it's that religious zealotry in any form is dangerous. Wright & Drake present themselves as pastors & their "sheep" have clearly suspended any critical thought to think for a second that their diatribe is spiritual or Christian like in anyway. By Avlon exposing these reprobates for what they really are, perhaps it will enlighten some in their respective flock or at the very least embarass them. Although for those sitting in the pews listening to their crap it's probably too late.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  63. Vern

    And we wonder why so many people do not want to go to church?! We see these idiots running around with doom and gloom on a constant bases. These so call christians are the biggest hypocrites ever!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  64. dagwud

    You write that these extreme individuals "... offer examples of why the separation of church and state is making a common sense comeback for this new generation...." But if that's the case, then they don't understand the concept. Can it then be "common sense"?

    Separate of church and state does not require individuals to leave their religious beliefs (or absences thereof) out of their political considerations. To argue otherwise is juvenile and promotes an impossible position. If religious belief does not change the way one views the world, it's not much of a belief.

    Of course, one could amend the Constitution to remove the prohibition against religious tests for those seeking public office. Then we could require all public office holders to be avowed and documented agnostics.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  65. Art Cavazos

    This is the best segment I've seen on CNN in years. Keep 'em coming.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  66. Voice of Reason

    Wingnut of the Week is an excellent feature. Please keep up the good work. If religion wants to get involved in polictics, get the IRS on them to revoke their tax exceptions. Tax them to hell, where they belong.
    It's religion that is ruining America!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  67. Tim from AZ

    It's funny how this article attempts to paint extremism as bipartisan, with those guilty on the left and right. Left-wing extremism does exist and Wright is a complete wingnut by any measure, but in comparison to what Iv'e seen on the right, left-nutties pale in comparison.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  68. Catapult

    What scares me now is that gradually it will become not only politically incorrect but illegal to disagree with a politician's policies and views because it will be seen as racist and ethically divisive. We are already on that road to censorship and will likely continue along it, much to the detriment of free speech and democracy.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  69. Catapult

    What scares me now is that gradually it will become not only politically incorrect but illegal to disagree with a politician's policies and views because it will be seen as racist and ethically divisive. We are already on that road to censorship and will likely continue along it, muc hto the detriment of free speech and democracy.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  70. Larry

    "Them Jews" is not an anti-semitic phrase, and I have yet to hear anyone argue against his actual point. Same with the comment about the US supporting state terrorism elsewhere. Can anyone deny with a straight face that this has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen? I don't think so. Meanwhile, our "journalists" wwould rather hold these comments up as examples of extremism.?.? That's facism in action, when the popular culture (usually with state support), tries to dismiss such criticism as extremism. A very sad day for journalism in my view.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  71. tom

    Grteg (posted at 8:16):

    I think you are way offbase.
    The idots, wingnuts, and assorted misfits are all out there.
    Do you want them and their ilk to just fester under cover of the internet?

    Thank God for the press.
    The more they shine the light on these losers, the better.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  72. Shelly

    Wing-nuts such as Sarah Palin

    Sarah Palin, who (supported by McCain) painted exactly this dangerous picture of the man who is now our President during the disgusting campaign instead of HAMMERING on those in crowds and media 'calling out'

    June 12, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  73. RJP

    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." (Mohandas Gandhi )

    June 12, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  74. Brownbutt

    Greg-
    Are you for real?
    I though folks with your thinking go to prison before age 18-

    June 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  75. Big_D

    The biggest wingnuts are Gingrich, Rush, and Palin. They have gone so far overboard with their communist and racist statements that they have inspired deep hatred of Obama and Sotomeyer. I think they are a danger to society and I implore everyone to boycott any sponsor of these three.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  76. John Long

    The pulpit as a fountain of prejudice and extremism flourished under the Bush Administration. So did the secular pulpit, the broadcast talk show. There have been a string of atrocitities committed at the urging of such people. While freedom of speech protects their right to make such declamations, it does not protect the preachers' tax-exempt status. These kinds of statements and many others should be grounds for iRS reviews and revocation of tax exemptions and reductions.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  77. Jessica

    Greg, take a chill pill dude – shining a light on crazies is a good thing. Von Brunn is already in the news enough for us to know he is truly the biggest wingnut for today, surely to be replaced by a bigger wingnut next week.

    I can't understand how talking about Drakely lays the groundwork for another lone wolf shooting? in addition to your lack or reasoning, it's just plain speaks to perhaps you have a soft spot for people like Drakely? Or maybe you just agree with him regarding Tiller and Obama?

    Either way...it's not attention getting journalism, it's good ol fashion SPEAKING THE TRUTH. If the crazies can't handle it (and i'm not call you a crazy, but if the shoe fits be my guest)...then they best stop acting crazy!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  78. WSS

    To assert that antisemitism is a thing of the Left is disingenuous. There are many many skinheads, neo-nazis and general anti-semites who would never consider themselves liberal. And, as a general rule, the people on the left side of the political spectrum do not kill their ideological adversaries.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  79. also anonymous

    Well said Mr. Avlon. There are nuts on both sides of the left/right
    coin. Let's not judge left or right, or liberal or conservative by
    these crazy people.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  80. Steve, New York City

    Mr. Avlon – great piece (and I agree with your views on both of these guys)!!!!

    My only suspicion, is that you used to be a speech-writer for Rudy Giuliani – the man who seems to lack "family values" (cheated on his 2nd wife and then married his mistress)!! Hopefully you didn't write his speech that went "9/11, 9/11,9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11).

    Giuliani is not quite as repulsive as Spitzer, but he comes close.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  81. Scott

    Now – let's not call them wingnuts – that name is reserved for Red Wings hockey fans. Call them LOSERS!

    June 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  82. Bill, Bloominton IL

    Greg, you are typical of the problem, not the solution. People need to understand it it not the right wing or the left wing that is the problem, it is both and you standing there pointing the finger at the right wing just causes them to point the finger right back at us.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  83. Melissa

    The extreme wingnuts have got to be stopped. This behavior is not acceptable.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  84. Realistic

    I wonder where all the outrage from the hardcore fanatics from the republican party? Oh yeah, they probably agree with him.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  85. James from Phoenix

    Both of these people are crazy, but you have to love a country where they have the right to speak their minds.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  86. JS007

    Great article. I am not worried about CNN bringing this to light because the crazies are already listening to these guys while polishing their guns. What this reporting will do is alert us all about exactly what is going on – I did not know just how many crazy racists were out there. It is sad that some of these people are allowed to pervert the bible and use religion to further their sick agendas.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  87. Anthony

    I'm a conservative christian but I agree that Drake was completely out of line. Even Jesus said that if you wish a brother dead in your heart you are still committing murder. Doesn't matter if you agree with Obama or not the bible teaches that you should never wish anything like that upon them.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  88. tiretred

    This is why we can't tolerate any forms of religion within the government, moderate or otherwise. By accepting those who are not as extreme (yet still believe in mythology) it keeps the door open for the crazy people to sneak in. Religion is the worst thing humans have invented.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  89. Bob

    Time for a religion free revolution. One based on peace and science. Eliminate blame and guilt. Speak freely. Let's face it – too many religions spread violent venom. By spreading a religion free message of peace, and by outing the wingnuts, we will have a better chance of a good life.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  90. brad

    good article but a bit too late now. The MSM is and has been tagged as a liberal leftwing nut organization that failed to fairly report the campaign. That will be forever remembered by REAL Americans who dispise unfair treatement by all.

    Now the MSM gets morals? Too late, you failed to properly report this stuff so in my mind you condoned it.

    June 12, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  91. Anon

    Why don't you people grow up and keep your religion to yourselves? Any "organized" religion is only out to get your money, they have no interest in anything else. Like the great prophet Carlin once said, "Religion is in your heart and god is in the bushes."

    June 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  92. Greg

    A. Nonymous, I repectfully disagree with your comment although I understand the intent. The media, in this case CNN, is providing a national spotlight for unkowns like Drake to stoke the hair trigger maniacs like Von Brunn to carry out their fantasy aggressions. It is very similar to having Bill O'Reilly of Fox News declare over and over that Dr. George Tiller is a baby killer until the wish to have Tiller assassinated becomes reality. Again I urge CNN to stop placing obscure extremists on the national stage, they are dying for it.

    June 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  93. Terrie

    John Avalon you are correct when you said that these comments should absolutely make every American furious. First I would like to say that I do not agree with alot of things that Obama is doing, however these so called preachers need to actually open the Bible and read it.....! The Word tells us that we are to pray for our leaders, and that doesnt mean for their death it means for wisdom from God to lead the country. Next the simplest of all the Ten Commandments: Love thy neighbor as thyself....HELLO!!!!!Pray for your enemies, LOVE your enemies. You know preachers (if that is what you want to call them) like these are the ones that turn people away from church. As a man of God these preachers should be getting together and praying for this country and letting the love of Jesus be shown. They should be ashamed of themselves. I pray every day for God to help Obama do the right thing. I pray everyday for the economy of WV and the miners, that God will provide good paying jobs in these mines for the good ole country boys, and I pray for Cecil Roberts God give him some common sense and start actually trying to get these mines opened up even it if means a march to Washington......God Bless America Again-a song sung by the Ayers Family maybe these preachers and Obama need to listen........!!!!!!!

    June 12, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  94. A. Nonymous

    Greg, extremists are cockroaches who operate like cowards in the shadows. By shining a light on them we as a society publicly shame them and show them for the fools they are.

    June 12, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  95. Greg

    I watched your program on wingnut of the week and was surprised on how off base it was. The wingnut of the week was Von Bronn, remember him? He went to the DC Holocaust museum to kill Jews but was able to kill a black security guard instead. Von Braun is a well known Neo-Nazi and right wing extremist. The right wingnut of the week was the killer Von Bronn, not an unknown preacher.

    By CNN bringing Drakely into the national spotlight you are laying the groundwork for more hate and deadly violence. Your network has a responsibility to the American public to stop sowing the seeds of hatred in this country.

    This type of irresponsible, attention getting journalism is just that, irresponsible. I recommend you dump this segment completely or suffer the consequences of the next lone wolf shooting.

    June 12, 2009 at 8:16 am |
  96. RJ

    I`m disgusted about the vidoe I saw about the Texas Cop Tasering a 72 year old woman! This man should be ashamed of himself! Then he should be fired! Cops dont want to get their hands dirty anymore they want to stand back and fry someone to death! While this lady did not die many others in this country have! I say if one person has died as a result of being tazed then the practice needs to stop! This country is becoming a police state similiar to Nazi Germany!

    June 12, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  97. Marlene Baierl- Germany (originally Milwaukee, Wisconsn)

    Thanks John for holding our religious leaders accountable. The media needs to do this more often, or else our church going poeple will continue to be brainwashed to hate in the name of God. I grew up in the Baptist church and left it for these reasons (i.e. women didn't have equal rights in the family or church). Although I am still a believer of faith, I am really disappointed in many of our religious leaders who continue to advocate their PERSONLIZED AND POLITICAL interpretations of the Bible, Koran or Torah in a manner that polorizes its congretations from the society they live in. That is not love, but hate. It is about time that this be a focus of our American discourse if we want peace among ourselves and world-wide.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  98. Allison

    Wiley Drake by no means speaks for the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention. Also, your oral report on the broadcast was wrong because you said that he was the Senior Vice President. Your blog says it correctly by stating that he was the SECOND Vice President. Just wanted to make sure the viewers understood this fact.

    June 12, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  99. A. Nonymous

    This is an excellent feature, keep it up!

    June 12, 2009 at 6:36 am |
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