I guess the PR people at World Harvest Church were a bit upset at all the face time fellow electioneering minister Rev. Russell Johnson, senior pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster, was getting over the IRS complaint filed by clergy from 31 denominations this week. Rev. Rod Parsley, the founder and senior pastor of World Harvest, and television heart throb to shut-ins, came outside his lush estate in Canal Winchester, to speak to the unwashed of the media. A PR flack had previously made comments about the complaint.
Parsley, in a news conference at his sprawling World Harvest Church complex in southern Columbus, labeled the complaining pastors as the “anonymous 31” and called on them to reveal their identities.
“The anonymous 31 have chosen to speak behind the masks of personal and political agendas, media manipulation and intimidation, and we simply will not be silenced by those tactics of fear,” Parsley said.
Parsley called [Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell] “a principled and courageous leader” and acknowledged making personal financial contributions to Blackwell’s campaign while giving nothing to the other gubernatorial candidates. But, he said, “I have not nor will I endorse Secretary Blackwell or any candidate for governor in my capacity as the president” of a tax-exempt nonprofit entity.
He said Blackwell had been invited to events in his role as Ohio’s chief elections officer, not as a candidate for governor.
[Rev. Eric Williams, senior pastor of the North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus and a complaint-signer,] called that “a convenient” assertion.
“It certainly doesn’t appear that way, because there have been too many opportunities (for Blackwell) to speak, too many standing ovations, too many accolades at all these rallies that these two churches are hosting.”
Referring to the 31 pastors, Parsley said, “As far as I can tell, this group operates according to the credo: Ready, fire, aim! But they have still missed.”
He called the complaint an attempt to deny religious freedom of speech to certain Americans.
“It seems that if you stand for biblical morality,” he said, “they would prefer you to be silent.”
Liberal preachers trying to silence him, pastor says (subscription req)
No, Rev. Parsley, no one is trying to silence you or deny “religious freedom of speech” (whatever that means).
The rule is that in order to have your church enjoy its tax exempt status, there is a limit to how involved you and your church can get in politics. It is the same kind of limits that apply to vendors that do business with the state. Governor Taft was recently convicted of ethics violations for not reporting free gifts he got from some vendors who also get contracts with the state.
It is a big stretch NOT to see that your group’s support of a single candidate is a lot like those free golf games and no one has said someone was trying to deny freedom of speech to those vendors.
Those rules not only protect the state from undue influence and protects the church from undue influence of the state. That is the essence of the first amendment.
Rev. Parsley has a lot to lose if such rules like the tax exemption were removed or ignored.
World Harvest Church had its beginnings with 17 people meeting in the backyard of the home of Pastor Parsley’s parents in the spring of 1977. Property on Gender Road was purchased for the new sanctuary complex and ground was broken in the summer of 1986. The new facilities occupied in November of 1987, housed a 5,200 seat auditorium, television studio, children’s ministry, the growing World Harvest Church Academy, and the administrative offices.
Today the church facility encompasses 57 acres and includes a 5200 seat sanctuary, children’s and Youth Ministry, Family Life, Ministry Resource Centers, Bookstore and Administrative offices, soon to be completed 122,000 square foot Ministry Activity Center which is a place of ministry to the needs of the whole family . . . and the nation.
According to Franklin County, the World Harvest Church property, purchased for $207,000 in 1986 is appraised at $1,000,600 and the land and buildings combined are worth $27,570,000 The church pays no property taxes.
Rev. Parsley claims he nor his church will be partisan but his comments in other venues have been different and his actions seem to put the lie to his non-partisan public expressions.
The spring of 2005 has been a banner for Columbus’ tele-revivialist cum spiritual adviser to the Republican Party, Rod Parsley, Pastor of World Harvest Church in Canal Winchester; interviews in James Dobson’s daily online news commentary Citizen Link and Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint; features in Charisma Magazine, the Scaife owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Columbus Dispatch, the Other Paper and the Newark Advocate; and citations in the New York Times and Dallas Morning News.
Also, there was the op-ed in the Charlotte Observer and the photo-ops with Sen. Sam Brownback. He was hobnobbing with old friends Ken Blackwell, Cincinnati moral crusader Phil Burress, former Ohio Congressman, Bob McEwen, former Alabama Supreme Justice Roy Moore, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. Let’s not forget his Center for Moral Clarity, the Ohio Restoration Project, and his Patriot Pastors. And, of course, the launch of his 12-city Silent No More book tour at World Harvest on April 16 which brought to town rightwing writer and TV starlet Ann Coulter, Christian insult comedian Brad Stine, and another old friend, former UN Ambassador, presidential candidate, and recreational mosher Allen Keyes.
Parsley is also a member of the Arlington Group, a coalition organized in the mid-1990s by Free Congress Foundation CEO Paul Weyrich. This gang of heavy hitters includes James Dobson, Don Wildmon (American Family Assoc), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Janet Folger (Faith2Action, former director of The Center for Reclaiming American, and former legislative director of Ohio Right to Life), Randy Thomas (Exodus International), Phil Burress, Matt Staver (Liberty Counsel), Richard Land (Southern Baptist Convention), and, not surprisingly, Ken Blackwell.
Their meetings, like those of the murky Council for National Policy, are held off-the-record. According to Weyrich, the effort to place anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballots in 11 states emanated from the AG, and the resources to go full-tilt in Ohio were raised from participants in the group.
Parsley sees himself as a wall builder and a wall buster. As a wall builder he will restore Godly presence in government and culture; as a wall buster he will tear down the church-state wall. “I would like to know who the federal government thinks they are to tell me where I can and where I cannot declare that which God Almighty has spoken with me and my spirit,” he says. “I will say it on the street corner and I will not set my citizenship at the door of the church!”
So Parsley is known for speaking out of both sides of his mouth, like a real politician. The friends he has kept and contacts he has made is not good for the church or the state. His group is bad for the wall of separation no matter what Parsley says.