Ohio televangelist blasts clergy who criticized him

Columbus – Central Ohio televangelist Rod Parsley, master of the military metaphor, returned fire at his accusers Friday, ridiculing “a consortium of liberal clergy” for filing an IRS complaint against him this week.

Parsley called a news conference at his mammoth World Harvest Church in Canal Winchester to rebut claims in the complaint that his church and the nearby Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster have engaged in “flagrant political campaign activity” and should have their tax exemptions revoked.

Referring to the complainants as “The Anonymous 31” because most of the 31 pastors who signed it have refused to identify themselves, Parsley said, “As far as I can tell, this group operates according to the credo ‘ready, fire, aim.’ But once again, they’ve missed. It seems that if you stand for biblical values of morality, they would prefer you to be silent.”

The ministers chose not to release their names to keep the focus on the allegations and not on individuals and their churches, Eric Williams, senior pastor of North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus and spokesman for the complaining pastors, told The Associated Press.

“This was an act of courage, and we wanted to honor people’s desire to choose when and how they would speak out publicly,” Williams said.

Although Parsley’s politics on social issues ranging from gay marriage and the teaching of creationism track closely with the Republican Party’s right wing, he has tried to cast himself as a political centrist to deflect questions about his close relationship with Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Blackwell has extensively toured the state with Parsley and is the only gubernatorial candidate to whom Parsley has contributed money -$2,500 last January. Parsley’s “Reformation Ohio” project also has announced that it will feature Blackwell in upcoming “Ohio for Jesus” radio spots later this year.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Plain Dealer, USA
Jan. 21, 2006
Ted Wendling

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