Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Dispatch Gives Rod Parsley a Pass.

Hypothetically Speaking notes the disappointing profile of Columbus-area evangelical Rod Parsley in the Columbus Dispatch. HypoSpeak has been on Parsley – and by extension Blackwell – for the former’s unapologetically bigoted statements about Muslims. Unfortunately, the CD lets him get away with some antiMuslim Lite comments, then moves on to the apparently more compelling subject of his finances.

Here is the shoulda-been-money quote in the CD piece:

‘‘There are clerics who will espouse love and teach their people that that’s what the Quran teaches," [Parsley] said.
‘‘But unless Islam is confronted from without and reformed from within, we are going to continue to have the kinds of difficulties we’re seeing played out around the world today."

That sounds halfway to reasonable. Most Westerners have at least qualms about how Islamic theology appears to have been twisted to justify attacking innocents. Many moderate Muslims believe the time is nigh for real reformation in their faith. Isn’t that what he means by “confronted from without and reformed from within?”

Not so much. Parsley actually believes that Islam is a “false religion,” that terrorism is an inevitable outgrowth of its fundamental tenets and that the United States was created to “destroy” it, among other things.

As it happens I suffered a bout of insomnia when on vacation and caught an airing of his sermon about Islam on TBN. According to the cutaway gimmie-yer-money ads that punctuated the show, the sermon contains essentially the same information as the chapter in his book.

I wasn’t taking notes, but here is what I remember:

-He reiterates his charge that Mohammed received his revelations from demons that possessed him. I didn’t follow how Rev. Rod knows this, except that it has something to do with the Gospel According to Mark.

-He generally denigrates the Qu’ran as a sham.

-He runs though the common overreading of the Islamic command to jihad.

-He calls Islam a “cult,” saying that the reverence for Jesus in Islam is a ploy to be all-inclusive “like all cults.”

-He faults Islam for being a “works-based” religion. If you are not familiar with the grace vs. works dichotomy that fundamentalists draw, you will have to go elsewhere to bone up and I have only a bare understanding of the controversy. What you need to know for this discussion is that Rod says because Muslims need to do good works to be saved, and because they are never certain if they are saved, they can be persuaded to carry out terrorist acts that guarantee them entrance to heaven. (Rev. Rod then spends some time feeling really good about being a Christian and needing only God’s grace.)

-He summarizes with a call for Christians to evangelize Muslims because only by converting the Muslim world can we win the war on terror.

So we have moved a ways beyond calling for “reform from within.” I can only conclude that the reporter didn’t do any homework on what Rev. Rod says, or she would have challenged him on this. Understand that his attack on Islam is one of two sentinel issues he is organizing and advocating on, the other being against acceptance of gays. This is what the guy is about. And he was allowed to soft-pedal his views for public consumption.

Rev. Rod is an important player in Ohio politics; among other things a high-profile confidant of J Ken Blackwell and a leader of the Ohio Restoration Project. His views on this issue matter. He shouldn’t be allowed to clean them up for the Sunday papers.