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Jews On First!

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The Ohio Christocrats: Pastors Rod Parsley, Russell Johnson and their Patriot Pastors

Links to reports about John McCain's rejection of Rod Parsley's endorsement are below. Background information and news reports about Parsley and Johnson are also below.

McCain endorser Rod Parsley Preaches Bigotry and Christian Supremacy, Recordings Disclose
Recordings include talks by Parsley, Oliver North, Gary Bauer, Rick Santorum

by, May 10, 2008

Rev. Rod Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest megachurch in Columbus, Ohio, credited with turning out the vote for President George W. Bush in 2004, has not yet had media attention as a problem endorser of Sen. John McCain. But he should. Like McCain endorser Pastor John Hagee, who is increasingly reported as an embarrassment for the Republican presidential contender, Parsley has made bigoted statements about Islam, calling it a "false religion". And recordings of two of Parsley's church services obtained by, reveal him to be a warmonger and a militant theocrat.

"I'm urging you to fight," Parsley preached on May 4th. He declared that the United States is in a two-front war against "rabid Islamo-fascism" and secularism at home. He disparaged tolerance.

The May 4th service at World Harvest Church, of which has posted an audio recording, included a guest appearance by Oliver North.

JewsOnFirst has also posted in three parts a recording of a service at the church last October that included Rev. Parsley, former Reagan administration aide Gary Bauer, and Rick Santorum, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania who was turned out of office in 2006. Please continue reading our report here.






Rod Parsley: "The Reverend Rod Parsley, a forty-eight-year-old evangelical minister, is a self-described Christocrat. A dropout from a bible college, Parsley is the leader of the World Harvest Church, a megacongregation in Columbus, Ohio. He directs a $40 million ministry that reaches fourteen hundred television stations and cable channels.

"Parsley is also a political conservative who has traveled across the United States on a 'Silent No More' tour, announcing his plans to be an active player on the state and national political stage.

"Parsley, who has amassed great personal wealth as a result of his Christian church work, strongly affirms the position that many Christian clergy have been intimidated by the secular society and have permitted their churches to become merely social clubs." From "The Baptizing of America," by Rabbi James Rudin, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006, p. 12. (See our review.)

According to Rabbi Rudin, Parsley wants to change our government to criminalize personal behavior and Christianize the public square. He carries out some of his religious-political work through his Reformation Ohio organization.

Russell Johnson: Johnson is pastor of the 4000-member Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster, near Columbus. Like Rod Parsely, he has been active in recruiting "patriot pastors"" and campaigning for Republican causes, most notably Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the 2006 Republican candidate for governor, with whom he is pictured here.

Johnson's satellite organization is the Ohio Restoration Project. He discusses it on his Fairfield Church's website:

The culture in the United States has become increasingly pagan because churches do not have the heart to follow faithful pastors and, at times, ministers who do not have the courage to lead. There is a warfare for the heart and soul of America . This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell. Millions of souls weigh in the balances and the church stands at the Critical Crossroads of history!

Parsley and Johnson have been credited with turning out the Christian vote in Ohio that gave President George W. Bush a razor-thin victory in 2004.

Biblical worldview cited as critical to survival of Christian faith in America

By Allie Martin,, June 5, 2007

The founder of the Center for Moral Clarity says Christians in America must be equipped to stand against secular humanist worldviews and choose to get involved in the culture war. Otherwise, says Rod Parsley, the United States could look like post-Christian Europe within a single generation.

In his new book Culturally Incorrect; How Clashing Worldviews Affect Your Future, Pastor Rod Parsley says decades of liberalism and post-modern thinking have crippled America. It is vital, he says for Christians to have a biblical worldview. "If we don't engage in this fight, [in one generation] we are going to ... look like post-Christian Europe," Parsley warns. He cites an example. "In Austria, scientists appealed to the government of Austria to give apes human rights, since [they believe] we are descendants of apes," he says.

Parsley says his new book focuses on what he calls the real "war of the worlds" as it urges Christians to action in the culture war. "It deals specifically with situations like secular humanism, with Marxism, with post-modernism, with nihilism, and all of the countering worldviews that are in opposition to the solid Christian worldview," he shares. Continue.

The Evangelical Surprise

Frances FitzGerald, New York Review of Books, April 26, 2007

Last year the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster, Ohio, became a regular stop for journalists covering trends in Christian right politics. In 2004 its pastor, Russell Johnson, helped organize a campaign for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and succeeded in having it put on the ballot for the November elections. It passed with 63 percent of the vote, and many believed that it gave George W. Bush his narrow margin of victory in the state and returned him to the White House. The following year, Johnson launched the Ohio Restoration Project with the goal of recruiting two thousand "patriot pastors" to register three hundred new voters each and bring them to the polls for "values candidates" in 2006 and beyond.

Johnson's meetings and rallies began with a chorus singing hymns while images of the American flag, the Statue of Liberty, and American troops in combat moved across huge video screens overhead. Johnson would then speak of "the secular jihad against people of faith" and warn Christians against standing by, as Neville Chamberlain did, while the Jews died in Europe. Talking with visitors to his nondenominational evangelical church, Johnson, energetic and a skillful debater, spoke forcefully on "the bigotry against the teaching of Creationism," the war against Christmas, and Roe v. Wade, which, he said, had led to the crisis in Social Security by killing millions of American taxpayers. He also described how he worked with other state activists, some with ties to national organizations, to create computerized lists of sympathizers in conservative churches throughout Ohio, and to follow up with the distribution of voting guides and the recruitment of volunteers to bring church members to the polls. Continue

Meet the Patriot Pastors
Ohio leaders draft a 'mighty army' to fight the 'secular jihad.'

by Nate Anderson, Christianity Today, November 3, 2006

The cameras were rolling last October as Rod Parsley took to the Statehouse steps in Columbus to announce the kickoff of his grassroots group, Reformation Ohio. Bolstered by a bused-in crowd of supporters, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, rappers, and a dance troupe, Parsley grabbed the microphone and sounded the call to arms.

"A Holy Ghost invasion is taking place!" he called. "Man your battle stations, ready your weapons, lock and load. Let the reformation begin!"

Some analysts credit Parsley for helping President George W. Bush win Ohio in 2004. As pastor of the 12,000-member World Harvest Church, Parsley used his platform to campaign for a state ban on gay marriage. When those he rallied entered the polling booth, most also pulled the lever for Bush, who won the state by only two percentage points.

Parsley has ambitious goals for the November election, which features hard-fought Ohio gubernatorial and Senate races that could also shape the presidential election in 2008. But he's not doing it alone.

Fellow pastor Russell Johnson lacks Parsley's charisma, but he has mastered the art of organizing. His group, the Ohio Restoration Project (ORP), recruited nearly 1,800 churches with "Patriot Pastors" and deputized them to draft new "values voters."

The ministers signed 410,000 Ohio homes onto Johnson's mailing list, and the ORP can tap 100,000 prayer warriors through e-mail in a moment's notice. This is more than just a group of voters ready to punch some ballots. According to ORP outreach materials, it is a "mighty army" ready to do battle.

While Johnson reaches white evangelicals and fundamentalists, Parsley appeals to both African Americans and Pentecostals. Together, the two men have forged a political machine that aims to remake Ohio politics—and the nation. Continue.

Columbus clergy call for IRS investigation of Parsley and Johnson's use of tax-exempt organizations.

In January 2006 and again in April 2006, a large group of mainstream Ohio clergy filed complaints with the IRS about Parsley and his colleague Pastor Russell Johnson's use of their tax-exempt facilities to support Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell. Please click here for JewsOnFirst's extensive coverage and documentation of the complaints.

Ohio clergy organize to reclaim public space

We Believe Ohio to Challenge Christocrats' Monopoly on Public Space

By, May 11, 2006

Under the banner of "We Believe Ohio," mainstream clergy in Columbus are organizing their communities to reclaim the public space that two powerful religious right leaders have crowded with anti-gay "moral" issues. Founded late last year, the organization has grown rapidly to include more than 110 Christian and Jewish congregational leaders. We interview three of them for our report. Please click here.

John McCain rejects Rod Parsley's endorsement

In Rebuking Minister, McCain May Have Alienated Evangelicals

By Kimberly Kindy, Washington Post, May 29, 2008

The Rev. Rod Parsley paces the stage, wiping his forehead and shouting to his congregation in a taped sermon that marriage is under attack by "tortured and angry homosexuals."

During another of his nationally broadcast television shows, he compares Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan, saying that its goal is to "eliminate" blacks. And at another service at his 12,000-member World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, he punches the air and calls Islam a "false religion" that God has told America to destroy.

"We were built for battle! We were created for conflict! We get off on warfare!" he adds.

Images of one of the nation's rising stars of television evangelism are widely available on DVDs and Web sites, with sermons that are almost certain to inflame some segment of the voting public. But in its quest to secure support from evangelical Christians, the campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain did not note a long record of inflammatory statements by Parsley and the Rev. John Hagee of Texas, another TV evangelist, until long after McCain had accepted their endorsements.

The move backfired last week when clips of the ministers' sermons gained national attention, prompting McCain to reject their support. The candidate's abrupt turnabout brought criticism not only from secular viewers, who questioned why he had aligned himself with controversial religious voices, but also from evangelicals, who said he may have alienated a powerful bloc of potential Republican voters. Continue.

Parsing Parsley
ABC’s Brian Ross delivers on McCain’s “spiritual guide”

By Zachary Roth, Columbia Journalism Review, May 22, 2008

Good for ABC News and Brian Ross, who are finally giving Pastor Rod Parsley, an important Christian conservative ally of John McCain, the kind of scrutiny he deserves.

As Ross detailed in a report that aired this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, Parsley—whose endorsement McCain solicited, and who the senator has called “one of the truly great leaders in America”—has views on Christianity and Islam that many would consider no less troubling than Jeremiah Wright’s anti-American screeds. Continue.

Sen. McCain’s Agents of Intolerance

Editorial, New York Times, May 24, 2008

It took a long time for him to do it, but Senator John McCain has finally rejected the endorsements of two evangelical ministers — one whose bizarre and hate-filled sermons deeply offended both Catholics and Jews and the other who has used his pulpit to attack Muslims.

Mr. McCain had it right in his unsuccessful primary campaign eight years ago when he denounced the Christian right’s Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell as “agents of intolerance” who exercised an “evil influence” over the Republican Party. It was particularly disturbing to see him cynically pander this year for the support of that same Christian right.

His belated decision to distance himself from two of the most extreme ministers was long overdue — and we suspect driven more by political ambition than by the principles he espoused in the past. Continue.

Rev. Rod Parsley withdraws McCain endorsement

The Columbus Dispatch, May 24, 2008. Full text.

After saying Friday that he would not withdraw his endorsement of Sen. John McCain, pastor Rod Parsley has changed his mind.

The pastor of World Harvest Church, in the Canal Winchester area, issued a statement almost identical to one he had sent late Friday night, but with one key change: the addition of the sentence “Therefore I withdraw my endorsement.”

Spokesman Gene Pierce wouldn’t shed light on Parsley’s decision, saying only “this statement is a clarification on (Friday’s) statement.”

McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, rejected the Columbus pastor’s endorsement after holding on to it for nearly three months. Parsley has criticized Islam, calling it inherently violent and saying it is “the anti-Christ religion.”

McCain also rejected Texas televangelist John Hagee's February endorsement. Click here.

McCain's changes tone on other pastor?
John McCain’s tune toward evangelical pastor Rod Parsley has changed in three months’ time.

From NBC's Abby Livingston, MSNBC First Read blog, May 23, 2008

During the thank you section of a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio on Feb. 26 -- the same Cincinnati event at which a conservative radio host referenced Obama’s middle name, “Hussein,” three times -- McCain had words of praise for Parsley.

“I'm very honored today to have one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide, Pastor Rod Parsley, who is here,” McCain said. The Arizona senator then walked over and shook Parsley’s hand. “Thank you for your leadership and your guidance. I am very grateful you are here, sir.” Continue.

In the News

McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam

David Corn, Mother Jones, March 12, 2008

Televangelist Rod Parsley, a key McCain ally in Ohio, has called for eradicating the "false religion." Will the GOP presidential candidate renounce him?

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a "strong, true, consistent conservative." The endorsement was important for McCain, who at the time was trying to put an end to the lingering challenge from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite among Christian evangelicals. A politically influential figure in Ohio, Parsley could also play a key role in McCain's effort to win this bellwether state in the general election. McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide." Continue.

Kenneth Blackwell's 2004 presidential election shenanigans in Ohio
Landslide Republican gubernatorial loser moves on to Washington to work with Tony Perkins' Family Research Council

by Bill Berkowitz, Bend Weekly (Bend, OR), Jun 15, 2007

Over the years he's carried enough water for the GOP to fill up a good part of Lake Erie. He's done enough dirty work to pave the Interstate from Cleveland to Columbus. He is credited with being part of the team that helped double President George W. Bush's vote count among Blacks in Ohio in 2004, and is charged, by critics, of having tampered with that vote. So despite his humiliating defeat in the state's gubernatorial election last November, he remains a darling of both religious and economic conservatives.

J. Kenneth Blackwell, the former undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, and, most recently, that state's secretary of state, has landed on his feet in the nation's capital.

In mid-March, the Family Research Council (FRC) announced that Blackwell had been hired on as a Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at Washington's premiere right wing religious lobbying outfit. "Over the years, we have known and worked with Ken Blackwell on the toughest issues facing families and our country," said FRC President Tony Perkins in a news release dated March 14. "We have witnessed Ken's willingness to stand and fight for preserving marriage and defending the unborn. His unwavering commitment to tax relief and conservative fiscal policies has supported family enterprise." Continue.

Paid Trip Offered Face Time for Lawmaker, Controversial Ohio Pastor

Tara McLaughlin,Religion News Service, December 1, 2006

When Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., went on a one-day trip to speak in Columbus, Ohio, in 2005, he and aide William Moore didn't have to spend time in airports waiting for connecting flights.

Instead, the two boarded a private plane leased and operated by World Harvest Church. They reported the total cost of their travel as $7,240 -- the equivalent of two first-class tickets, the formula allowed under House travel rules. The trip was paid for by the Center for Moral Clarity, an offshoot of the 12,000-member World Harvest Church, based in Columbus, headed by Pastor Rod Parsley.

Paying for travel is a legal way for groups -- including nonprofit religious organizations -- to get the attention of lawmakers and possibly gain support for their causes. Trips may also give politicians a platform to promote legislation. Continue

Blackwell never put his best foot forward, and paid the price

By Joe Hallett, The Columbus Dispatch, November 19, 2006

No file in the office cabinet bulges more than the one marked Blackwell.

Over the past 12 years as a statewide officeholder, Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell has been a reporter’s dream. He opens his mouth and news pours out. He has a talent for speaking in quotes and a knack for seeing how they will look in the next day’s newspaper, even as he says them.

I will miss covering Blackwell. He is fun to be around, blessed with an enveloping personality, an endearing sense of humor and a very big brain. His has been a life of inspiration, from the projects of Cincinnati to mayor of that city, from college civil-rights crusader to U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, from fiscal meagerness to multimillionaire. Continue.

Clergy cite key role of religion in politics

By Marilyn H. Karfeld, Cleveland Jewish News, October 27, 2006

One of every three people in Cleveland lives in poverty. One of every two children in Cleveland lives in poverty.To change that, Ohio has to raise its minimum wage. So said the Rev. Tim Ahrens of the First Congregational Church of Columbus.

Ahrens is a founder of “We Believe Ohio,” an interfaith group of progressive clergy that formed last November to combat what they call the divisiveness and intolerance of religious conservatives.

Ahrens spoke on Sunday, along with the Rev. Marvin McMickle of Antioch Baptist Church, at Temple Emanu El's program titled “Politics & the Pulpit: Is there a role for religion in government?”

The Rev. Russell Johnson, pastor of Fairfield Christian Church in suburban Columbus, an evangelical Protestant congregation, was scheduled to join the panel, but failed to appear. Several hours earlier, an associate sent an e-mail to program organizers saying that Johnson was in California. His representative didn't have time to make the drive from Columbus so close to the election, the e-mail said. Continue.

In Ohio, Democrats Show a Religious Side to Voters

By David Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, October 31, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 30 -- Representative Ted Strickland, an Ohio Democrat and former Methodist minister, opened his campaign for governor with a commercial on Christian radio vowing that "biblical principles" would guide him in office.

In his first major campaign speech, Mr. Strickland said "the example of Jesus" had led him into public service. He has made words from the prophet Micah a touchstone of his campaign.

Ohio, where a groundswell of conservative Christian support helped push President Bush to re-election two years ago, has become the leading edge of national Democratic efforts to win over religious voters, including evangelicals. Continue.

Faith’s place in politics debated
Event questions role of the right and left in pushing agendas

By Kevin Mayhood, The Columbus Dispatch, October 09, 2006

The country has gone awry when children can’t sing Silent Night or pray in school, a minister told an audience Downtown yesterday.

"The forces of darkness -- should never silence people of faith," said Russell Johnson, senior pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster.

"We don’t want to be muzzled behind stained-glass windows. We want to make a difference."

Eric Williams, senior pastor of North Congregational Church of Christ in Columbus, said he is concerned when religious values won’t value all citizens. Continue.

Forum on Church and State in Ohio Politics: Civility and Substance

by Mark Grimsley, professor of history at Ohio State University, whose blog, The Ohio Twenty-first, examines "politics from the vantage point of a voter in the 21st House District, Ohio General Assembly -- that is, the northern suburbs of Columbus, October 9, 2006

Discussants from both conservative and liberal perspectives squared off Sunday afternoon in a 90-minute forum that, although quite animated throughout and briefly contentious at points, was for the most part a model of civility and substance. I was in the audience and the quality of the exchange left me genuinely impressed. Continue.

'Values voters' ignore scandals
Leaders: They'll turn out in force

By John McCarthy, The Cincinnati Post, October 9, 2006

COLUMBUS - The "values voters" who helped Ohio give President Bush his 2004 victory remain motivated despite scandals in Washington and Ohio and will turn out in force Nov. 7, two of the movement's leaders said Sunday.

The Rev. Russell Johnson, chairman of the Ohio Restoration Project, and Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, said their memberships feel energized. They were among the panelists at a discussion of the role of religion in politics attended by about 200 people at a downtown theater. Continue.

Pastors embrace opposing views, each other

By Jim DeBrosse, The Oxford Press (Oxford, Ohio), October 6, 2006

The rift between religious right and left ended with a surprising hug Sept. 26 after an hour of sometimes pointed exchanges between the Rev. Russell Johnson of the conservative Ohio Restoration Project and the Rev. Eric Williams of the more liberal We Believe Ohio.

The two Columbus-area pastors, tangled in a dispute over how far churches can delve into politics without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status, met for the first time at Sinclair Community College in an election forum on faith and politics.

The forum was the first of four elections forums being co-sponsored by "The Dayton Daily News" and Miami's radio station WMUB. Continue.  

Religious right powerhouses mobilize for 2006 election
Focus on the Family and "patriot pastors" work to turn out Republican base

by Jane Hunter, JewsOnFirst, August 21, 2006

In October 2004, the week before the election, I was walking precincts, campaigning for John Kerry, in Columbus, Ohio. As I trudged up and down porch steps in the city's white working-class neighborhoods, I ran into many other Kerry campaigners. We introduced ourselves and laughed at the "overkill" of our efforts.

We remarked that we'd seen no Republican walkers and no Republican literature. None. And how strange that was. Then we trudged on, careful not to dislodge each other's literature from screen doors.

Later we learned that "patriot pastors" Rod Parsley, Russell Johnson and others, had been intensively using their pulpits to register and turn out voters... We could excuse ourselves for not anticipating the invisible Republican get-out-the-vote.

This time the religious right is doing its pro-Republican campaign work above the radar. Focus on the Family has launched a major effort to register and turn out voters. People For the American Way Foundation, the NAACP, and the African American Ministers Leadership Council have just released a joint report detailing the action plans of the "patriot pastors." So we can't say we didn't see it coming. Continue

Pastors stand up for Blackwell
Democrats seek names of donors behind TV attack ad

By Mark Niquette, The Columbus Dispatch, August 29, 2006

Saying they are exercising their constitutional rights as citizens, a group of about 30 conservative pastors from across the nation stood behind Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell yesterday to endorse him for Ohio governor. Continue.

Holy Toledo
Ohio’s gubernatorial race tests the power of the Christian right.

by Frances FitzGerald, New Yorker, July 31, 2006

Pastor Rod Parsley stood on a flag-bedecked dais on the steps of Ohio’s Statehouse last October and, amid cheers from the crowd below, proclaimed the launch of “the largest evangelical campaign ever attempted in any state in America.” A nationally known televangelist and the leader of a twelve-thousand-member church on the outskirts of Columbus, Parsley had gathered a thousand people for the event, and attracted bystanders with a multimedia performance involving a video on a Jumbotron and music by Christian singers and rappers broadcast so loud that it reverberated off the tall buildings south of the Statehouse. TV crews from Parsley’s ministry taped the event. “Sound an alarm!” he boomed. “A Holy Ghost invasion is taking place. Man your battle stations, ready your weapons, lock and load!” In the course of the performance, Parsley promised that during the next four years his campaign, Reformation Ohio, would bring a hundred thousand Ohioans to Christ, register four hundred thousand new voters, serve the disadvantaged, and guide the state through “a culture-shaking revolutionary revival.” Continue

The IRS and Church Tax Exemptions

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Public Broadcasting Service, August 18, 2006

KIM LAWTON, guest anchor: There's been a long-standing debate about the appropriate lines between religion and politicking. As Lucky Severson reports, it's a question that has pitted clergy against clergy in the key battleground state of Ohio.

LUCKY SEVERSON: This is Pastor Russell Johnson, a man with strong views on just about everything.

Reverend RUSSELL JOHNSON (Senior Pastor, Fairfield Christian Church, Lancaster, OH): From my standpoint, separation of church and state is in the Soviet constitution that the Bolsheviks wrote. Separation of church and state is not [written] a single time in the American Constitution.

SEVERSON: Over the past 20 years, Pastor Johnson has transformed the tiny Fairfield Christian congregation into a megachurch bigger than a Wal-Mart superstore in the cornfields outside Columbus, Ohio. Continue reading this transcript, or click here to watch the video report.

Liberals Criticize 'Patriot Pastors' Movement

By Daniel Burke, Religion News Service via BeliefNet, August 23, 2006

August 23 -- A "new generation of Religious Right" pastors is turning churches into Republican political machines, three left-leaning interest groups charged on Tuesday (Aug. 22).

The report, titled "The Patriot Pastors' Electoral War Against the `Hordes of Hell,"' was issued by the NAACP, the People for the American Way Foundation and a subsidiary group, the African American Ministers Leadership Council. Continue

Candidates focus on faith
Blackwell, Strickland proud of their religion

By Howard Wilkinson, The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 16, 2006

Ohioans have never heard so much about God and faith from their candidates for governor.

Republican Ken Blackwell has been seen often at campaign events toting the Bible under his arm, he delivers Sunday morning sermons at evangelical mega-churches and counts Ohio's most high-profile pastors of the "religious right" among his closest friends.

Democrat Ted Strickland reminds voters often that he is an ordained United Methodist minister, tells the listeners of Christian radio stations he will be guided by "biblical principles" as governor, and points to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as the best guide for making public policy. Continue

Coalition Announces Lawsuit

News release, People for the American Way, July 6, 2006

A group of civic organizations filed a lawsuit today seeking to overturn restrictions on voter registration in the state of Ohio. The requirements laid out by the state drastically limit the ability of civic groups to register new voters and threaten individual registration workers with felony charges for minor mistakes handling forms. The rules will limit voter registration, unnecessarily exclude eligible voters from the election process, and suppress the vote in Ohio.

The complaint filed today in United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, raises several concerns with House Bill 3 and the rules and procedures set forth by the Secretary of State... Continue

Moderate US Christians face conservative Goliath

By Andrea Hopkins, Reuters, The Washington Post, July 13, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Rev. Timothy Ahrens had heard his share of fiery rhetoric from Ohio's religious right and seen conservative Christians turn out in droves to ban gay marriage and re-elect President Bush in 2004.

But when an evangelical pastor stood outside the Ohio statehouse last fall to declare he was "locking, loading and firing on Ohio" to campaign for more religion in public life, Ahrens decided it was time moderate Christians spoke up. Continue

Megachurches build a Republican base

By Andrea Hopkins, Reuters, The Washington Post, July 16, 2006

LANCASTER, Ohio (Reuters) - It's not Sunday but Fairfield Christian Church is packed. Hundreds of kids are making their way to vacation Bible school, parents are dropping in at the day-care center and yellow-shirted volunteers are everywhere, directing traffic. In one wing of the sprawling church, a coffee barista whips up a mango smoothie while workers bustle around the cafeteria.

"There are people here from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day -- sometimes later," senior pastor Russell Johnson says as he surveys the activity. Continue

Patriot pastors gather power to restrict rights

By Kenneth W. Chalker, Opinion Article, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 16, 2006

Chalker, senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Cleveland, warns that "patriot pastors" Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson and their ilk are bent on establishing a repressive theocracy. He identifies additional danger in the willingness of elected officials to go along with these wealthy, increasingly powerful theocrats. Click here for Chalker's op-ed article.

Blackwell is darling of foes of gay marriage

By Ted Wendling, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 7, 2006

Ken Blackwell, whose primary win makes him the Republican candidate for governor of Ohio, got a large proportion of his campaign funds from out-of-state -- some from contacts in the Arlington Group, the small elite religious right coordinating body. Both Blackwell and Pastor Rod Parsley, who backed his candidacy, belong to the group. Click here

Ohioans sincerely at odds about how much religion should mix with politics
Dispatch Poll Politics And Religion '... under God, divisible'

By Darrel Rowland , Joe Hallett and Mark Niquette, The Columbus Dispatch, May 7, 2006

"The real Ken Blackwell wouldn't be standing up here if he didn't first say, 'All the glory is God's.' " Those were the first words in the GOP gubernatorial nominee's victory speech last week. A few minutes later at the Democrats' victory party, Ted Strickland's Jewish running mate was extolling Strickland's virtues as "an ordained Methodist minister."

Like it or not, religion almost certainly will play a major role in Ohio's race for governor.

A Dispatch Poll shows that many Ohioans will like it - but about as many won't. Continue

Pair of pastors emerge in Ohio politics: Ministers are faces, voices of movement
With differing styles, evangelical Christian leaders can sway many in pews around state

Akron Beacon Journal, April 15, 2006

In-depth proflies of pastors Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson portray the two as important religious right leaders:

To many Ohioans, Parsley and Johnson are just two more names leading two more movements on the political front. But they cannot be dismissed as mere preachers with lofty ambitions who momentarily have captured the media spotlight. For this year, they have emerged as the face and voice of a deep-rooted conservatism in Ohio that is fervent, politically active and spreading.
Parsley leads Reformation Ohio, and Johnson heads the Ohio Restoration Project -- both calling for Christian witness, service and political activism. Their real power, though, lies in their ability to influence thousands of Christians through member churches who care deeply enough to take their beliefs into the voting booth.

Read the report

Earlier material on Parsley

Patriot Pastors

Marilyn Karfeld, The Cleveland Jewish News, July 29, 2005

"Jews, who only comprise 1.3% of the population, rely on the First Amendment's ban on the state's endorsing any religion to protect their minority status. Thus, the Ohio Restoration Project (ORP) has stunned many Jews with its plan to identify and train 2,000 so-called 'Patriot Pastors' to get out the evangelical vote for the Ohio primary in May 2006. The Rev. Russell Johnson, ORP head and senior pastor of Fairfield Christian Church, an evangelical congregation in suburban Columbus, casts the 2006 election as an apocalyptic clash between a virtuous Christianity and the evildoers who oppose Christianity's values." Click here to read more.

Movement in the Pews Tries to Jolt Ohio

By James Dao, New York Times, March 27, 2005

"COLUMBUS, Ohio - Christian conservative leaders from scores of Ohio's fastest growing churches are mounting a campaign to win control of local government posts and Republican organizations, starting with the 2006 governor's race." Click here to read the report.

Ohio Players
Two Christian Evangelists aim to take over the state's Republican Party

By Bill Berkowitz, Media Transparency, September 6, 2005

"Despite the subsequent controversy over widespread abnormalities on Election Day 2004, late in the evening of November 2, it was determined that Ohio voters had delivered the final dart to the heart of the presidential hopes of Democratic candidate, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

"Now, Christian evangelical ministers in Ohio are teaming-up to form a network intent on building on their constituency's extensive contribution to both President Bush's victory and the passage of Issue 1 -- an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage -- and help Christian conservatives take over the state's Republican Party. The Reverend Rod Parsley and the Rev. Russell Johnson are two key players in an effort to wrest control of the GOP from so-called Party moderates...

"Americans must be 'Christocrats' -- citizens of both their country and the Kingdom of God -- the Reverend Rod Parsley told his congregation on a recent Sunday at his World Harvest Church, located just outside Columbus, Ohio. 'And that is not a democracy; that is a theocracy,' he said. 'That means God is in control, and you are not.'" Click here for the report.

With God On His Side
Meet Rod Parsley: rising star of the religious right, GOP ally

By Sarah Posner, American Prospect, November 10, 2005

"In his church, Parsley claims to be fomenting revolution at God's direction. This revolution -- theocratic in character, of course -- is portrayed by Parsley as a battle between the beleaguered, persecuted Christian and a secular culture that has devolved into chaos. Parsley, a man by turns bellicose, ingratiating, and kitschy, has placed his cult of personality front and center in the "culture war" -- a label that suits his depiction of an apocalyptic showdown between good and evil. Whether he is discussing the distinction between Christian and Muslim ("I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam"), straight and gay ("the pressure on society to accept the audacious behaviors and disastrous consequences of homosexual activity is not a matter of cultural drift or shifting mores; it is a highly orchestrated, highly organized, and extremely disciplined political program"), or atheist and theocrat (the media has engaged in a "high-tech persecution of my faith"), Parsley sees battle lines drawn clearly. And he is the arbiter of what's right and wrong because, as he is unafraid to say, God told him so." Click here for the report.

Parlsey's crude homophobia -- and its source

Gay Bowel Syndrome? Yeah, Right
Anti-gay researcher Paul Cameron's falsehoods are well-known. The incredible thing is the people who still cite them

By David Holthouse, Intelligence Report (a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center) via Alternet, February 9, 2006

This report shows how entirely spurious is the bizzare "research" often cited by the religious right to "justify" its homophobia. It begins with this cameo of Pastor Rod Parsley appearing with the governor of Texas at a bill signing.

Parsley heaped praise on Gov. Perry for "protecting the children of Texas from the gay agenda." Then he rattled off a series of shocking statistics: "Gay sex is a veritable breeding ground for disease," he said. "Only 1 percent of the homosexual population in America will die of old age. The average life expectancy for a homosexual in the United States of America is 43 years of age. A lesbian can only expect to live to be 45 years of age. Homosexuals represent 2 percent of the population, yet today they're carrying 60 percent of the known cases of syphilis."
The televangelist did not reveal where he got those numbers. He stated them starkly as facts to be accepted on blind faith. But they are not facts. They are gross distortions lifted straight from the pages of pseudoscientific studies by Dr. Paul Cameron, a crackpot psychologist and champion of the anti-gay crusade. Under the guise of chairman of the Family Research Institute, his statistical chop shop in Colorado Springs, Colo., Cameron has published dozens upon dozens of research studies that offer homophobes a supposedly scientific justification for their prejudices by invariably concluding that gays and lesbians are dangerous and diseased perverts.

Click here for the report.