Tag Archives: election

Ken Blackwell had 27 contacts with Revs Johnson and Parsley in past 2 years

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The Associated Press reported Sunday 3/12/2006, that Ohio governor candidate Ken Blackwell, who is currently the Ohio Secretary of State, met with Rev. Russell Johnson and Rod Parsley or their churches 27 times from January 2004 through March of this year.

Johnson is the founder of the Ohio Restoration Project while Rev. Parsley is founder of Reformation Ohio, a similar group, and both are named in a complaint made to the IRS by 31 other clergy members. The complaint alleges Johnson and Parsley are illegally electioneering for Blackwell.

The information examined by the AP didn’t include Blackwell’s campaign schedule as Blackwell says that schedule is not subject to public review.

Overall, Blackwell’s schedule documents 75 meetings of a religious nature, including visits to churches, meetings with pastors and Christian business groups, speeches to church groups, and attendance at prayer breakfasts and Christian men’s groups.

Blackwell’s contacts with Johnson include meetings like the one on December 9, 2004, in his Columbus office at 1:00pm, when Johnson introduced the secretary of state to David Limbaugh, a conservative commentator and brother of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, according to the secretary of state’s schedule. Later that day, Blackwell spoke at a fundraiser for Johnson’s Fairfield Christian Academy.

Blackwell’s meetings with Parsley include three flights to anti-gay marriage events in 2004 aboard the seven-passenger Hawker Siddeley 125 owned by Parsley’s church. Blackwell reimbursed Parsley $1,000 for the flights.

Blackwell Met With Ministers More Often Than IRS Complaint Alleged

What is even more interesting is the following bit:

Blackwell’s GOP rival for governor, Attorney General Jim Petro, declined comment, except to say he occasionally meets with ministers, but not with Parsley or Johnson. Former candidate Betty Montgomery, currently Ohio’s state auditor, also meets with ministers, but she has not met not with Parsley or Johnson.

The schedule obtained by the AP from Blackwell’s office ends in September, when the official calendar was transferred to Blackwell’s political campaign.

Asked for the public portion of Blackwell’s schedule from September through March, the campaign provided 158 pages, but most events were blacked out as campaign-related — which means they were not a public record.

Blackwell said no documents held by his campaign are covered under open records law, including calendar items that reflect events — such as appearances with the pastors — that he made as secretary of state.

Obviously he is hiding the fact that Johnson and Parsley ARE electioneering for him. Why else would the events be blacked out and not others. He admits those items blacked out he attended as the Secretary of State. They should all be available for public review if he is attending as an elected official.

Rev. Rod Parsley comes outside his lush estate to give his side in IRS electioneering complaint

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image of Rev. Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church in Ohio
Rev. Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church in Ohio

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.
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Blackwell, Johnson, Parsley hit back at IRS complaint

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Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell, Rev. Russell Johnson, pastor of Fairfield Christian Church and chairman of Ohio Restoration Project, and Rev. Rod Parsley, of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, hit back at a complaint filed with the IRS by 31 mainline clergy members over Johnson and Parsley using their churches to electioneer for Blackwell.

“You tell those 31 bullies that you aren’t about to be whupped,” said Blackwell, the secretary of state, who said that “political and social and cultural forces are trying to run God out of the public square.”

Johnson accused the complaining pastors of launching a “secular jihad against expressions of faith” and said, “We are not going away. We will not be intimidated.”

Blackwell tells pastors to ignore complaint(subscription req)

Another version of the article here

[I]n a statement issued by Parsley’s spokesman, Mark Youngkin, World Harvest said the “left-leaning clergymen” have no case — although they do seem to have “a political agenda.”

Laws of man, God obeyed, World Harvest Church says(subscription req)

Blackwell and Johnson made their remarks at an event at the Hartville Kitchen. It is the fourth of 10 planned meetings across the state by the Ohio Restoration Project to enlist “Patriot Pastors” and register voters who share its values, particularly its opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Johnson claimed: that “every statewide officeholder who supported” the ballot issue to ban same-sex marriage was invited to yesterday’s meeting. But, in the Dispatch article today, it noted that Blackwell was the only governor candidate invited. Betty Montgomery, another candidate, who supported the gay marriage ban, wasn’t invited.

Johnson said she wasn’t invited because she is “pro-abortion.”

And there you have proof that Rev. Johnson and Rev. Parsley are using their group to endorse one candidate and that my friends is a violation of the tax exempt status they enjoy for their churches.

I have no problem with churches encouraging their members to vote or to support an issue, like a ban on gay marriage (even though I wouldn’t agree on their position), but one thing a church can’t do is endorse candidates.

I have been involved with a tax exempt group for more than 10 years, the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, and we have had candidate forums at our meetings in recent years. One thing we must do is invite all candidates to speak. The rules don’t require all those invited have to show up – and most haven’t shown up – just that we don’t only invite candidates that share our point of view or particular point of view. That is what Johnson and Parsley have done with their meetings.

Johnson and others have suggested their actions aren’t any different than what African-American churches have done for the Democrats for decades. African-American churches have had Democrats and Republicans speak on occasions and those churches work hard on issues of importance to the African-American community, like poverty and hunger, but they have never made it a practice to tell a member who to vote for as religious conservatives have done in recent years.

Blackwell said other clergy members have backed Democratic candidates, pointing to a February 2004 photograph in yesterday’s Dispatch showing John Edwards — then a North Carolina senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination — being blessed by two bishops during an appearance at First Church of God on Refugee Road.

But Timothy J. Clarke, senior pastor at the church, said yesterday that any candidate who asks to appear at the church may do so — but that no candidates are specifically invited or endorsed from the pulpit.

Clarke said he will pray for candidates, as seen in the photo, and that he will endorse issues. But he never uses the church to back specific candidates, he said.

“Whenever candidates of any party worship with us, my statement always is, we do not endorse candidates from this church,” Clarke said. “I encourage my members to vote; I do not tell them how to vote.”

In many cases African-American churches have a tradition of political activism because the church was really the only place African-Americans had for building their community due to segregation laws on the books for decades and outright racism in traditional main stream political structures. As long as they don’t tell members who to vote for I don’t see an issue with it.