I had an e-mail land in my box today that could be one of the smoking guns that proves Rev. Russell Johnson of the Fairfield Christian Church and Ohio Restoration Project is electioneering for Ken Blackwell, who is running for Governor and hopes to be the Republican nominee this fall.
To refresh your memory, Johnson and Rev Rod Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest Church, had a complaint filed against them with the Internal Revenue Service, by 31 other Central Ohio pastors. The complaint alleges that Johnson and Parsley, through their churches and the Ohio Restoration Project, have endorsed and provided direct support for the Blackwell campaign in violation of their non-profit status. The IRS is investigating.
For more on the complaint see these past posts:
New Orleans Mayor says God is mad and some clergy complain about church politicking
Blackwell, Johnson, Parsley hit back at IRS complaint
Rev. Rod Parsley comes outside his lush estate to give his side in IRS electioneering complaint
Ken Blackwell had 27 contacts with Revs Johnson and Parsley in past 2 years
The e-mail I got today is an e-mail train that had Rev Johnson sending a link to a Blackwell campaign video to his church e-mail list and to the staff at Fairfield Christian Church.
Here is the text of Johnson’s e-mail:
Life, Marriage, and Traditional Family Values are not Republican or Democratic Issues… these are Biblical Issues. Below is a web link that needs 2.42 minutes. I pray that in the days to come there will be Democrats and Republicans who will lead with the caliber of courage and the depth of conviction about standing for the truth of God in the public square. Pray that ministers and Christians in America will repent of cowardice in the face of the enemy by allowing our nation to be taken hostage to secular myths. Pray with me that the Body of Christ will get a backbone in our lifetime and stand for what the Bible teaches as important.
In His Service, Russell
The web link he included in an otherwise neutral e-mail note was a note from Jeff Ledbetter, who is fund-raising coordinator for Blackwell’s campaign.
Ledbetter’s note specifically acknowledges the fine line being walked by sending an e-mail to Johnson. Ledbetter writes:
Russell / Bill
We are in the final stretch, as you well know. We are also on the verge of history and it feels really good. But today isn’t the time to rest, even if it is Good Friday.
I am writing to you as private citizens, away from your responsibilities at Fairfield Christian and the Ohio Restoration Project.
Below I have copied a sample message that contains a link to a 2½ minute video on Ken and his issues. Perhaps you have already received the link and watched the video. I think it is very good.
We need to get this video out into circulation. Just as with the DVDs, this video helps people understand who Ken Blackwell is. While you can’t use the Patriot Pastors list to circulate it, I am hopeful you will use your personal network to get it around.
Thanks for your continued prayers and steadfast support.
Ohioans for Blackwell
Unfortunately, Johnson’s personal network seemed to be his church and staff. If he wanted to keep his political endorsement separate from his church he should not have sent it to the staff, used a church e-mail address, or included Ledbetter’s e-mail.
Sure he could come back and say that he never mentioned Blackwell by name – but such an argument would be a lame attempt since he included the entire note from Ledbetter and the video is a Blackwell campaign video. The subject of the note says “FW: Blackwell video”. In case your are interested in seeing it here is the link: Blackwell video
Basically it is an appeal to people of faith to vote for Blackwell.
The person who sent me the e-mail also sent it to some press outlets so we’ll see if the story pops up in media here in central Ohio.
The Columbus Dispatch ran a story about the e-mail on the front page today. It claimed two experts said the note from the Blackwell campaign was worded to keep Johnson from getting into more trouble with the IRS. One of those experts was from the The Rutherford Institute – which is a conservative group.