A Southern Baptist pastor in Atlanta prayed an imprecatory Psalm against opponents of a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Oct. 4, according to an exclusive report by Brian Kaylor of Word&Way.
Although media were turned away from the “prayer luncheon” for Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker, Kaylor pieced together public social media posts to create an account of the political rally held behind closed doors at Atlanta’s First Baptist Church.
This November, Walker, a celebrity football player, will face first-term incumbent Raphael Warnock in a closely watched contest that could determine control of the Senate. Warnock is pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Both Atlanta churches played prominent roles in the Civil Rights movement, with Martin Luther King Jr. then serving as pastor at Ebenezer and the then-all-white First Baptist Church turning away Black worshipers at the front door with police assistance.
Although this year’s race features two Black candidates, their politics on social justice and race could hardly be more different. And their track record on explaining the issues also is vastly different, with Warnock exhibiting the polish of a preacher and Walker suffering from dissociative identity disorder that sometimes causes him to speak nonsensical phrases.
Nevertheless, Georgia’s white evangelical constituency strongly favors Walker, who overall trails Warnock in statewide polling 46% to 52%. Three-fourth of white voters without college degrees favor Walker, as do 91% of Republican voters.
At the prayer luncheon, First Baptist Pastor Anthony George read from Psalm 35: “O Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on your armor, and take up your shield. Prepare for battle, O God, and come to my aid. May those who rejoice at my troubles be humiliated and disgraced. May those who triumph over me be covered with shame and dishonor. But give great joy to those who came to my defense.”
Then the pastor said: “I want to claim those verses for my friend Herschel Walker.” Kaylor reported that the crowd, which had said “amen” during the scripture reading, erupted with applause at the connection of the Psalm to Walker as a victim seeking justice.
Among other problems, Walker has been dogged by reports of fathering several children out of wedlock. And the day before the prayer luncheon, a news report said he had paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009.
According to Kaylor’s research, this is the second time Walker has appeared at First Baptist, which is part of a larger campaign strategy of speaking during services of megachurches in the state.
Later during the event, George led a group prayer time over Walker as participants gathered around him and laid hands on him. The pastor said a “storm is raging outside these walls” and that Walker “wants to glorify” God, be true to the Bible, and “wants to do what’s right for our country.”