Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Article about Pastor Parsley

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]sunfell)

Parsley is the creator of the "Patriot Pastor" movement. Here's an in-depth article about him and his church:

With God On His Side

An excerpt:

When Zell Miller took the stage at one of Ohio’s largest “megachurches” last August, there was no talk of spitballs or duels, but there was plenty of rhetoric about soldiers and war. As the featured speaker at both a regular Sunday-evening church service and a political rally for about 1,300 pastors the following morning, the former Georgia senator wasn’t talking about gun-toting soldiers bringing democracy to the Middle East. Instead, to the delight of thousands of congregants at the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Miller spoke of Bible-toting Christian soldiers bringing theocracy to America.

The apostate Democrat came to Ohio as the special guest of televangelist Rod Parsley, a rising star of the Christian right who was lifted from political obscurity onto the national stage for his role in mobilizing voters in favor of his state’s gay-marriage ban last year. Parsley, a Bible-college dropout who claims to have begun his evangelical career in his parents’ backyard by preaching to a tiny congregation nearly 20 years ago, now boasts a 12,000-member church with affiliated schools offering education from preschool through college; a daily television program, Breakthrough, seen on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and other fundamentalist-Christian television outlets; a 2,000-member fellowship of affiliated churches; and a political organization, the Orwellian-sounding Center for Moral Clarity. But Parsley, who is hailed by the theocratic Christian right as a model of virtue and a representative of “values voters,” has been questioned by congregants and even his own family about his church governance and secretive fund-raising practices.

“Probably President Bush would not be in office today had it not been for him,” said Bishop Harry Jackson, a black pastor from the Washington, D.C., suburbs and a fellow rising star in the religious right. A registered Democrat who said that he and Parsley share the same theological and political viewpoint, Jackson runs the High Impact Leadership Coalition, which promotes its “Black Contract With America on Moral Values.” That effort has led Jackson into alliance with the Arlington Group, a coalition of the Christian-right political elite with which Parsley is also affiliated. According to Jackson, Parsley’s style of preaching is “very, very user-friendly to African Americans,” which may explain why the white pastor has a congregation that is 40-percent black. Jackson also maintained that Parsley’s work with Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, as a “black and white team” campaigning for the gay-marriage ban in churches across Ohio, created the “ricochet effect” of bringing out voters for George W. Bush in 2004.

Jackson was careful to point out that Parsley did not explicitly campaign for Bush, which would have jeopardized his church’s tax-exempt status. But that was something Parsley clearly wanted to do in light of his $2,000 contribution to the Bush-Cheney campaign and his outspoken contempt for the Internal Revenue Service rules that prohibit clergy from endorsing candidates. His tag-team campaign for the gay-marriage ban with Blackwell -- who was not only the state co-chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election effort but also supervised the election as secretary of state -- certainly provided support to Bush. Now, through campaign contributions and joint public appearances, Parsley is supporting Blackwell’s bid to become the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2006.

Although Parsley has barely stopped short of explicitly endorsing Blackwell, he insists that party affiliation doesn’t matter, and that he supports anyone, Republican or Democrat, who shares his view that the Bible offers the ultimate word on morality. Portraying himself as nonpartisan, and even as a Christ-like savior of the less fortunate, he claims (borrowing from Miller) that he is neither a Democrat nor a Republican but a “Christocrat.”


Definitely a must-read.

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