Pete Enns shared the prayer offered by Rev. Mark Burns at the Republican National Convention, saying that it is not a benediction. Historically, I beg to differ. To the famous set of Jewish prayers known as the Eighteen Benedictions, a nineteenth was added at some point which is a “blessing” of the heretics (birkat ha-minim). Of course, it is in fact cursing the heretics. But there is a long history of what are known as imprecatory psalms and prayers, calling for support of our own group and wishing that harm befall our enemies.
And so this is nothing new. It is at odds with the teaching of Jesus that we are to bless our enemies and not curse them, to be sure. And so it is ironic for Rev. Burns to be emphasizing belief in the name of Jesus in a prayer like this one. But praying against enemies has a long history of being called a “benediction” nonetheless, even if it may be awkward (to say the least) to consider it a Christian one.