During a recent “Receiving A Prophet’s Reward” special, conservative televangelist Rod Parsley shared the story of a woman who was informed by her doctors that her baby would be born with “more tumors in its brain than the doctors could even count.”
However, by “sowing a seed” — giving an envelope of money to Parsley during a church service — Parsley reports that “she gave birth to a baby perfectly normal, not a single tumor anywhere to be found.”
Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false.
The apocalyptic rhetoric is a reaction to the advances in LGBT rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in dozens of states and the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities across the country. Along with categories such as race, gender, religion, age and ability, more localities are recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as traits warranting protection from discrimination in the public domain.
As anti-gay politicians lose in the courts, Congress, state houses, town halls, and perhaps most importantly, at the ballot box, many have taken to conflating political defeat with a loss of rights and liberty. Only by depriving other people of their rights, so they claim, can conservatives and people of faith in this nation truly be free.
This month, many Republicans latched onto a complicated legal case in Houston to justify their hyperbolic warnings about impending doom for Christians in America. After Houston passed an equal rights ordinance this year, a pastor-led group tried — and failed — to collect enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on repealing the ordinance. When a group of conservative activists and pastors filed a lawsuit demanding that officials accept the invalid petitions, pro-bono attorneys working for the city subpoenaed several pastors’ communications, including sermons, on petition collecting and related issues like homosexuality as part of the discovery process.
While many groups from the left and right alike called out the subpoenas as overly broad and intrusive, the Religious Right cited the legal move as proof that pastors will be, as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody put it, “hauled off to jail for a hate crimes because they are speaking for traditional marriage.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in 2012 warned that America was “at the edge of a precipice” and would soon see non-existent “hate speech” laws used “against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages [or] who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage,” agreed with Brody’s assessment.
(In a similar episode this month, the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel business filed a lawsuit against their hometown over a nondiscrimination ordinance, arguing that city officials have threatened them with prosecution and jail time for denying service to same-sex couples — even though officials haven’t pursued any legal action against the couple.)
We’ve seen this movie before. In 2007, members of a group called Repent America were charged after disrupting a gay pride event and refusing to abide by police orders. The way conservatives tell the story, godly missionaries were punished by law enforcement for exercising their First Amendment rights and “sharing the gospel,” but as court records show, the group tried to disturb the peace and protest inside an event without a permit.
In fact, if Religious Right were correct in their warnings, America should have experienced a wave of arrests targeting pastors, church-goers and Republicans following the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Predictions about the criminalization of the Bible, pastors locked in jail cells and concentration camps for Christians never came true, mainly because these prophecies had no basis in reality.
The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law was passed by Congress five years ago today, and so far, the far-right’s twisted and baseless claims about the law have all been proven false. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped making the exact same discredited arguments five years after the bill’s passage:
End of Free Speech
Despite the hate crimes law’s provision making clear that it is applicable only to cases of violent crime and nothing “shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs,” Religious Right activists and their allies in the GOP nonetheless predicted that the 2009 law would bring free speech to an end.
“Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality,” Rick Scarborough said at the time. “The federal hate crimes law doesn’t target crime, but free speech.” He also warned that the law’s passage would “criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality,” telling members of his group, Vision America, that he may face arrest for “speaking out against sexual deviancy.”
Scarborough, a Texas anti-gay pastor and political organizer close to Ted Cruz, hasn’t backed down from his claims even years after the law has gone into effect. At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Scarborough declared that the “infidels” in the Obama administration are “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christians wouldn’t rise up against the attacks, he feared, “until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”
The Traditional Values Coalition went as far as to claim that the hate crimes law would imprison Jesus Christ.
“I believe that ‘hate crimes’ is the most dangerous bill in America, it is precisely what they are using to silence Christians around the world,” Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist with the group Faith 2 Action, said in an interview the year before the bill was passed. “How much of a stretch is it, really, to say that because I would say to you homosexuality is a sin or it’s dangerous behavior, before that speech alone is worthy of jail time? And that’s what we’re facing.” Porter told a Washington, D.C., rally shortly after the law was passed that it “criminalizes Christianity” and “sends pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech.”
In an 2009 email message with the subject line, “The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that “what ‘hate crimes’ legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”
He also alleged that the law would “gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda” and that it “punishes a person’s beliefs — part of the Left's intolerant agenda to silence the voice of Christians and Conservatives in America and eliminate moral restraint.”
“If federal thought crimes laws are passed, your right to share politically incorrect parts of your Christian faith could become a federal crime,” Perkins warned. At another conservative event, Perkins said hate crimes laws will curtail freedom and breed “chaos in America.”
Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America even encouraged opposition to the law by alleging that “there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation.”
One group of GOP and Religious Right figures claimed the law would be “a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression.”
E.W. Jackson, a Virginia pastor and GOP politician, told a conservative rally that the law “represents a virulent strain of anti-Christian bigotry and hatred” that is “another step in the process of robbing all Americans of the very freedoms the founding fathers pledged their lives for and the civil rights martyrs gave their lives for.”
Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, best known for his work supporting George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and the passage of his state’s gay marriage ban, said that the hate crimes law would force him out of the pulpit.
“This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look,” Parsley said. “The legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people not for their actions but for their culturally incorrect thoughts. This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even in the pulpit of my own church.”
We can report that despite Parsley’s grim predictions, he is still very much “sharing his heart” as a preacher.
Outlawing the Bible
One group of Michigan pastors, joined by local Republican politician and American Family Association state chairman Gary Glenn, filed an unsuccessful legal challenge against the hate crimes law soon after it was enacted. The group’s legal representative, the conservative Thomas More Law Center, contended that “the sole purpose” of the law was “to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”
Pastor Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ also offered an ominous warning: “If preaching the Bible is now against the law, then let us be arrested.” One WorldNetDaily commentator said the law would “crack down” on Christians for “reading the Bible.”
“Christianity Is Now Outlawed,” declared the Christian Seniors Association, a front group of the Traditional Values Coalition, in a fundraising letter following the law’s passage. “Did you know that the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature?’” the letter continued.
“Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs,” said Andrea Lafferty of the TVC. “The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that ‘hate speech’ — criticism of homosexuality — incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture.”
In the paranoid conservative alternate reality, pedophilia has been legal for five years now thanks to the updated federal hate crimes law.
“The main purpose of this ‘hate crimes’ legislation is to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ ‘either actual or perceived,’ as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations: zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?” asked televangelist Pat Robertson.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, similarly charged: “We have a record roll call vote that shows every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voting to have pedophiles protected.”
King’s colleague Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went one step further and said that as a result of the hate crimes law, courts would “have to strike any laws against bestiality” along with laws targeting “pedophiles or necrophiliacs.” Gohmert went on to warn that the law would effectively turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, for his part, predicted that the law would extend legal protections to “bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center claimed the law “elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”
Porter dubbed the law the “Pedophile Protection Act,” “summarizing” the law by completely making things up: “Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered [sic], cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.”
Pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia are still against the law and such laws have not been affected by the Hate Crimes Act, while declining “an unwelcome advance of a homosexual” is still very much legal. However, we are still waiting with bated breath for Porter’s lawsuit detailing how she was forced and legally bound to succumb to the charms of a homosexual enticer.
Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?
The many frantic, unfounded warnings about the perils the 2009 Hate Crimes Act are just one example of anti-gay activists’ penchant for manufacturing myths and brazenly distorting cases of supposed persecution.
Apocalyptic warnings and blatantly dishonest remarks have always been characteristic of the Religious Right's crusade against LGBT rights and we can expect such activists to continue to engage in such shameless fear mongering and misinformation before the 2014 election.
But, like the Religious Right’s warnings about the effects of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act, these dire predictions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.
Televangelist Rod Parsley is promoting his new book with a warning to parents about the dangers of public education, telling them that public schools are under Satan’s control.
“Our children are our righteous seed, and Satan is after them,” Parsley writes. “He has turned our public schools into cesspools of godless propaganda where God is publicly mocked and reviled. It is time to take a stand against the devil.”
Parsley founded the private Harvest Preparatory School, which is based in his megachurch and has seen its shareofcontroversy.
God made a covenant with Abraham and pronounced a multitude of blessings upon him. Why? Because God knew Abraham would raise his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Abraham became the father of many nations, and the entire earth has been blessed through his seed. You are engrafted into the family of Abraham and are blessed because of his righteous seed.
Our children are our righteous seed, and Satan is after them. He has turned our public schools into cesspools of godless propaganda where God is publicly mocked and reviled.
It is time to take a stand against the devil. The blood-bought saints of God must rescue this generation with the blood of Jesus, with the Word of God, and with prayer. Pray a hedge of protection around the children in your life.
What stand is Christ calling you to make in Your family, at work, in church, and in your community? Are you will to stand up for Jesus no matter what the cost?
Jesus, give me the courage to stand firm on Your truth. Guide me in raising my children in the fear of God. Protect my children and family from every attack. Amen.
Religious Right leaders are lining up to endorse Rod Parsley’s new book, The Cross, which is about how American culture and even Christian churches have “degraded the significance of the cross.” Parsley, who has also authored works such as Silent No More, Culturally Incorrect and Living On Our Heads, is best known for his Prosperity Gospel preaching, opulent living and right-wing politics.
Televangelist Rod Parsley brought on Perry Stone of Voice of Evangelism today to discuss the End Times, which, they noted, thanks to Obamacare is materializing more quickly than one might think. Stone claimed that Obamacare will mandate people to have a “heath care chip” implanted in their right hand and suggested that the chip is the Mark of the Beast.
Another self-proclaimed prophet, Cindy Jacobs, made the same contention on her show last year. Of course, the claim is completely and utterly false – if not laughable – as nothing in the law requires microchip implantations. Despite the ridiculousness, Stone says he found believers in at least four state senators receptive to the claim and is working with one to pass a state law blocking the imaginary requirement.
Later, Parsley and Stone talked about how churches should tell politicians that they will make sure their congregations only back candidates who oppose abortion rights and gay rights. “We are on the verge of legalizing abominations that have destroyed empires,” Stones cried.
“That is when the empire gets destroyed, not when the sin goes on but when the sin is legislated by the people, when it becomes ingrained in the laws then that becomes the destruction of that society or civilization,” Parsley added.
Later in the program, Parsley said that the supposed silence among pastors on the issues is a plot by the Devil.
A lawsuit filed in California Superior Court against televangelism powerhouse TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) threatens to blow the lid off alleged misconduct and criminal activity at the very highest levels of the organization. TBN, which advertises itself as the “World’s Largest Christian Network,” is home to such luminaries as Rod Parsley, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Benny Hinn, James Robison and the larger-than-life founders of the network – Paul and Jan Crouch, and their son Matt – who are a constant presence in front of the camera.
The Crouches have invited criticism and scorn in the past with their lavish lifestyle and flamboyant appearance, but the new lawsuit paints a portrait of a thoroughly corrupt organization. The suit centers on Paul Crouch’s granddaughter Brittany Koper, a former executive at TBN who was fired after she blew the whistle on alleged fraudulent and criminal activities. She claims that she subsequently faced massive retaliation, including threats of “physical and lethal violence.”
The lawsuit alleges that Paul Crouch Sr. obtained a $50-million Global Express luxury jet for his personal use through a "sham loan," and that TBN funds paid for a $100,000 motor home for dogs owned by his wife, Janice Crouch, a network director.
The suit also alleges that TBN bought residences across the country for its directors under the pretext that they were "guest homes" or "church parsonages." The properties include mansions used by the Crouch family in Newport Beach; side-by-side mansions in Windermere, Fla.; and homes in Nashville; Miami; and Irving, Texas, according to the suit.
While the $100k dog motor home is a pretty irresistible story (Seamus Romney must be so jealous!), the Times glossed over other portions of the suit that sound more like The Sopranos than Elmer Gantry. For instance, a section entitled “Multiple cover-ups of sexual and criminal scandals” accuses TBN, among other things, of covering up a “bloody sexual assault,” infidelities by Paul and Jan Crouch, and repeated incidents in which Matt Crouch exposed his genitals to cleaning staff.
I've included that section below, which mentions a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford. As previously reported, Ford, a TBN employee, was paid $425,000 to not discuss his alleged sexual encounters with Paul Crouch.
When Koper refused to play along, she wasn’t just sidelined within TBN. She allegedly faced threats of “physical and lethal violence” by Matt Crouch, and was told by Paul Crouch that Jan and Matt “want your heads” – referring to Koper and her husband, also a former TBN executive:
TBN issued a press release this morning in response to recent media coverage. Rather than address the substance of the suit, TBN’s lawyer and attorney Colby May portrayed the Kopers as disgruntled former employees who stole from the network to enrich themselves:
"The soundness and veracity of these stories are completely undermined when you realize that they depend almost exclusively upon accusations from individuals who admitted they had embezzled and misappropriated over $1 million from the network, and its companion ministry, International Christian Broadcasting," May explained. […]
"What the bulk of media stories don't explain is that these individuals used lawsuits to contrive absurd allegations that trusted TBN officials had illegally funneled millions of dollars for their own use," said May. "Add to that the fabrications that Dr. and Mrs. Crouch were using ministry funds to buy jewelry, jets, mansions, and mobile homes for dogs, and you have all the ammunition for a stereotypical attack against an esteemed media ministry."
We’ll be eagerly watching this case as it plays out. Koper has made explosive accusations against TBN and the Crouches, and the Kopers, as longtime insiders at TBN, are uniquely positioned to marshal evidence to back up their claims.
Click here to read the entire complaint against TBN.
Following John McCain’s rejection of the endorsements he sought from pastors Rod Parsley and John Hagee, People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert said, “John McCain may think he solved a problem when he finally rejected the endorsements of John Hagee and Rod Parsley and their bizarre, hate-mongering, rhetoric. He’s got a bigger problem now.”