Incitement: Ohio Pastor Open About Disdain for Muslims

Incitement: Ohio Pastor Open About Disdain for Muslims

Anastasia Pantsios, Cleveland Free Times, 7/11/05 Ohio Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell has made no secret of his ties to Ohio's Christian conservatives. He seems to be especially tight with the Rev. Rod Parsley, whose World Harvest Ministries in suburban Columbus is headquarters for a growing religious empire. The sprawling campus is home to a congregation of 12,000, a Bible college, kindergarten-through-12th grade school, and an international TV ministry. Parsley's ties to Blackwell are close and many. The two stumped Ohio together last October in support of the anti-gay-marriage Issue 1. Blackwell spoke at the World Harvest Church during a weekend in April celebrating Parsley's latest book, "Silent No More," whose jacket boasts the following endorsement from Blackwell: "This book should inspire men and women of faith ... and make 'values voters' a force that politicians can no longer ignore." Parsley returns the favor in the acknowledgments: "Ohio's Secretary of State, the Honorable Kenneth Blackwell: thank you for your courageous and outspoken support of moral value... Character like yours is instrumental in restoring honor to public service." Parsley clearly aspires to greater political influence: his Center for Moral Clarity is part of the Ohio Restoration Project, a thinly veiled "Christians for Blackwell" movement. So their heaping praise on each other is not surprising. But it will be interesting to see how Blackwell handles the tricky parts of such alliances. For example, Parsley's blunt attacks on Muslims.

Take, for example, these quotes from chapter five of "Silent No More," titled "The Deception of Allah": "The God of Christianity and the god [sic] of Islam are two separate beings." "Muhammad received revelations from demons and not from the true God." "Islam is an anti-Christ religion that intends, through violence, to conquer the world." Parsley goes on to argue that "America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed," and that "Islam is responsible for more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation than nearly any other force on earth at this moment." He speaks of the "persecution" of Christians by Muslims, and dismisses the latter as deluded illiterates. . . Ahmad Al-Akhras, president of the Ohio chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) said: "It is disturbing that someone in the cloak of religion and supposedly a follower of the great faith of the peaceful Jesus Christ would spew such venom. This is ignorance what he is saying. This same exact type of claim [about propagating violence] can be prepared about any other religious or ethnic group. Just collect the crimes committed by people who claim to be followers of such groups, whether like Christians or Jews or otherwise.

You can put them together and create the impression that this group or that group is responsible for all the crimes of humanity. "The message of Jesus is the message of peace and the message of embracing other people. Apparently, [Parsley] does not seem to understand this. I think those politicians who are being courted by him need to be called upon and they should denounce his hatred." The Free Times asked Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo to comment on Parsley's writings. LoParo responded by forwarding the text of a speech that Blackwell made to the American Muslim Council three years ago. Among general thoughts on freedom and fighting terrorism, he said: "Already I have seen many instances of our shared moral code overshadowing our differences, as citizens of all races, religions, and ethnicities form alliances to make sure our national security is preserved within the framework of the Constitution... and to fight bigotry." Asked again for a response to Parsley's words, LoParo did not reply.

CONTACT: CAIR-OH, Dr. Ahmad Al-Akhras, 614-989-5916, E-Mail:

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