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Pastor leads congregation in death prayer

By
LYNNE WEIL

LOS ANGELES -- A Baptist minister who once hired an airplane to tow a banner over a college calling Supreme Court Justice William Brennan a 'baby killer' led his congregation in a prayer for Justice Harry Blackmun's death.

The Rev. R.L. Hymers, during a 30-minute sermon to his Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle congregation Sunday, told his 250 followers to hold hands, bow their heads and direct their prayers against the ailing justice.

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'Pray with me now for God to remove Harry Blackmun from office in any way that God sees fit,' Hymers intoned into three microphones at a meeting room in the aging Ambassador Hotel.

'I don't know if our prayers will be answered,' Hymers said. 'The answer to that will come if he (Blackmun) dies in time for President Reagan to appoint someone who is capable of the job.'

Blackmun, 78, a key member of the high court's liberal wing, suffered a recurrence of prostate cancer, it was announced last week.

Hymers condemned Blackmun and other justices as 'pro-death' for their landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortions.

He also denounced television evangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker, Oral Roberts and Jerry Falwell, promoted the candidacy of Lt. Col. Oliver North for president and criticized the media for 'spreading communism.'

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Hymers' prayer campaign against pro-abortion court members received national press attention when it began 11 months ago. Since then, Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justice Lewis Powell resigned from the court.

Hymers has led his followers in demonstrations calling for God to change the court by 'repentence, retirement or removal.' He once hired an airplane to tow a banner reading, 'Pray for death: baby-killer Brennan,' over a college commencement ceremony where Justice William Brennan was speaking.

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