Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rod Parsley Backgrounder

The complaint filed by liberal Christian groups against Rev. Rod Parsley et al., has travelled well beyond the Ohio blogosphere. Blogs on the left and right have been covering it, the Rightwing blogs have been firing countercharges, the leftwing blogs have been debunking them . . . it's alot to keep up with.

For my late-to-the-party take I'll start with a little background on what came before things hit the fan this past weekend. The IRS has investigated other nonprofits for purportedly improper political activity during the 2004 election. IRS investigated the NAACP for Convention speech Bush-bashing by Board Chairman Julian Bond, and a liberal California church for a sermon allegedly giving Kerry the edge if Jesus debated Bush and him.

Parsley has been whining for some time about not being allowed to endorse candidates. In the CD profile he wrapped himself in the First Amendment (with the Establishment Clause excised, presumably) and declared himself a martyr. Martyrdom seems in fact to be a theme with Parsley. Christians are persecuted, they are oppressed, they are denied equal rights. Parsley embodies the odd phenomenon of Christian Triumphalists apparently uncomfortable with actual triumph. If they aren't underdogs, they seem not to know what to do with themselves. Maybe something of the Beatitudes sunk in after all.

But I digress. Parsley has been an outspoken advocate for the extreme minority view that churches should be allowed endorse candidates and otherwise engage in partisan political activity. Yet, when I have visited his websites, he is strangely silent on the California case. The Center for Moral Clarity runs constant updates on other "values" issues like gays and, well, gays. (To be fair, they don't like abortion either.) For as long as I have been stopping by, I have yet to hear Parsley say "boo" about either case. But when it happens to him, it's persecution. I guess this is what he means by "moral clarity."

The complaint against Parsley and his cohort is not entirely positive. First, as the commentators I cited above regarding the earlier cases argue, the IRS may do a great deal of mischief in drawing the line between permissible advocacy and partisan activity. Furthermore, it could give a needed push to a long-proposed and consistently thwarted Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which is as bad as it sounds.

Which was probably the intent from the start. The line between permissible and impermissible political activities of tax-exempt organizations is admittedly hazy, but Parsley's stated intent is to obliterate it. If his current activities had been insufficient to draw a complaint, he would have pushed harder.

This isn't despite all the protestations, about churches. It's about tax-exempt entities. It's about organizations that are de facto subsidized by you and me. Parsley can speak out as much as he wants. He can politically organized Christians. He just can't use funds from tax-exempt organizations to do it. Tomorrow, he and his fellow Patriot Pastors could march down to Ken Blackwell's office -- I believe they've met -- and file papers to form a Politcal Action Committee.

But for currently unfathomable reasons, that's not enough. The rules apply, apparently, only to us benighted souls. In Parsley's world, the Annointed get a pass.


Unknown said...

Just a dumb observation: what's stopping Paisley et al from walking outside of their churches, standing at a convenient podium set up on the sidewalk (yes...its the dead of winter...bear with me!) and simply saying, "I endorse Joe Blow?" He's exercised his right to free speech and did so without doing so from the pulpit. People who respect him can say, "Dang! I'll vote for Joe!" and those who don' get the point...

I guess it must be a convenience issue?

Anonymous said...

To check out Rod's million dollar home in Pickerington, go to and type in "parsley" in the search box. Click on the link at the very bottom of the left column. The parcel number is 0360015211. The house is in the name of his wife's trust.

A 7,462 square foot home with 5.5 bathrooms, 4 car garage, 2 fireplaces, and a swimming pool is such modest living for a true humble Christian.

Anonymous said...

A SUGGESTION FROM TENNESSEE ELIJAH FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE JESUS: Satan and his witless, foolish, obnoxious, deceptive and mean friends get really upset when you quote the Bible or wear a JIGROP shirt. Satan, the Evil One, the Devil, the former top angel who thinks he is smarter than God, really gets his britches in a wad when you tell strangers on message boards about Jesus -- or wear a JIGROP cap. So, my dear Christian friends, if you really want to have some fun, and get the "minds" of people off themselves and all the junk in this wicked world -- where Sissy Satan thinks he is god -- start drinking Starbucks coffee out of a JIGROP cup, write letters to prison inmates with a JIGROP pen, and take free groceries to poor neighbors with a JIGROP bumper sticker on your SUV. In fact, use JIGROP in a hundred different ways so you can let idiots who think movie stars, football players, music makers or Sissy Satan are heroes understand what this important one-word message means -- Jesus is God, repent or perish!


TBMD said...

It's always a mistake for the Church to get mixed up endorsing a candidate or political party. It confuses the message of the Gospel with stuff, that, from an eternal perspective, isn't that important (minimum wage too high or too low? What's the marginal tax rate that Jesus would endorse? Would He endorse oil drilling in an airport sized piece of the ANWR?

On the Church and tax issue, as Salvor Hardin would say, that's an atom blaster that points both ways. Neither side wants to push this too far - what would Rev. Sharpton do, cut off from tax free funds for his church?

However, individual Christians can have a different calling.

If Paisley (Parsley?) and others are living too high off the hog ( & I've posted about both Robertson and Sekulow) on the backs of the tithes of their parishioners, They'll have to answer for it - both in this life and the next.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty easy to take cheap blows at someone who HAS actually suffered in the past, both financially and at home. Parsley has one autistic child who doctors said would never walk, write, read or have a date to a school dance and another of his children died at the end of his wife's pregnancy.Also, any TRUE Christian would HAVE to say that homosexuality and abortion are wrong because the Bible says they are. And if a Christian doesn't believe the Bible, what should they believe?
Lastly, Rod Parsley SHOULD be blessed with a beautiful home. Are you jealous that you had to work so hard for yours when God was just willing to give it to you if only you served Him and not your selfish ambitions?

Whether you have read the book of Job in the Bible or not, I'd advise you to read it again...