The Patriot Pastors Electoral War Against the 'Hordes of Hell'

Burgeoning 'Restoration' Projects Hope to Elect Ohio Governor in 2006, Spread Model Nationwide

A report by People for the American Way Foundation

Table of Contents

The new report by People For the American Way Foundation, the NAACP, and the African American Ministers Leadership Council documents how a new generation of Religious Right leaders is turning conservative churches into political machines for far-right Republican candidates with rhetoric that might make Pat Robertson blush. Christians may hold the most powerful political offices in the country, but to these pastors, Christians are on the verge of being thrown into jail for professing their faith. Political opponents aren't just wrong, they are the "hordes of hell" and the "forces of darkness." Notably, high-level Republican officials aren't trying to distance themselves from such rhetoric. Far from it. They're embracing the self-proclaimed "Christocrats" and counting on a new wave of aggressive politics-from-the-pulpit to win elections. In Texas, a group is giving the governor organized support from pastors motivated to help his re-election campaign. In Pennsylvania, a nascent group seeks to do the same for their embattled senator. And in Ohio, the candidate anointed by the "Patriot Pastors" - Secretary of State Ken Blackwell - is the Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Introduction

Networks of "Patriot Pastors" organized at the state level by powerful evangelical pastors through so-called "Restoration Projects" are aiming to transform America by applying the significant resources of their churches to political campaigns. Candidates for public office are judged either godly or tools of Satan depending on their adherence to the pastors' unforgiving agendas - not only on traditional Religious Right "social" issues such as criminalizing abortion and stripping gay Americans of legal rights, but also on a wide range of economic policies that would limit the government's ability to pursue the common good. Patriot Pastor leaders embrace tax cuts, elimination of the minimum wage, and even doing away with environmental and worker safety regulations on industry. This model of a pulpit-based political machine pushing hard-right politics and candidates has the potential to transform politics across the nation.

In Ohio, where this new wave of church-based organizing in pursuit of such political agendas is most advanced, the "Patriot Pastors" machine is a force to be reckoned with, and has put Ken Blackwell one election away from the governor's mansion. At the same time, activists in Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere are working hard to build similar movements in their states inspired by this new Ohio political machine. Ohio-based pastor and televangelist Rod Parsley explained in a visit to the Texas Restoration Project, "I can snap my fingers and 200,000 Ohioans send an e-mail to our Ohio legislators."[1]

The Patriot Pastors and their Restoration projects are tilling soil that has been prepared and fertilized by 25 years of Religious Right political organizing and the growing reach of ultraconservative and highly politicized television and radio empires. They are mobilizing congregants who have been told over and over by their religious and political leaders that evangelical Christians are a persecuted minority in America and that the nation's elites and legal institutions are waging a war to snuff out religious liberty. This carefully cultivated image of a war against Christianity provides the background against which this new generation of Religious Right leaders is urging their followers to take a stand against evil - and which justifies in their mind their take-no-prisoners militancy. In their for-or-against-us worldview, there is no room for honest disagreement, even among fellow Christians: Russell Johnson, the leader of Ohio's "restoration" project compares people who sit out his political crusade to Christians in Nazi Germany who sang hymns louder to drown out the wailing of Jews being led to their deaths.[2] Political salvation is to be found in "restoring" America to its supposed roots as a nation created of, by, and for Christians.

A Spiritual Invasion

The "Patriot Pastor" movement is predicated on a particular vision of American politics: (1) that America is an explicitly Christian nation that should endorse sectarian policies, and (2) that this Christian America - and Christianity itself - are under attack from powerful forces in politics, possibly in league with Satan.

One might find it odd that in a country where more than 90 percent of the populace professes a belief in God and where the vast majority of the nation's political leaders are practicing Christians, there could be a serious discussion about whether Christianity is under attack. Yet this perception is widespread: fully three-quarters of white evangelicals believe it to be so.[3] And this perception has been increasingly exploited by the extreme Religious Right and their political allies to mobilize conservative evangelicals.

At a recent conference in Washington on this supposed "War on Christians," Rod Parsley electrified the crowd, comparing the "moral revolution" the attendees were embarking on to the Crusades. According to Parsley, God "has called us to war" against a "spiritual invasion." Who the invaders are is less than clear, though "secular humanists," the "liberal left," public schools, and "America's tortured and angry homosexual population" could all be likely candidates.[4]

Rod Parsely

"I came to incite a riot!
Man your battle stations!
Ready your weapons!
Lock and load!"


- Rod Parsley

Parsley, a high-profile "prosperity gospel" pastor, and another Columbus-area megachurch pastor, Russell Johnson, are calling for a "reformation" and a "restoration" of state politics, and they are mobilizing an army of "Patriot Pastors" to do battle with what Johnson calls the "hordes of hell." Emboldened by their victory in passing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio in 2004, the leaders of this movement are now calling upon their regiments to play a similar role in this year's race for governor - by using their churches to enlist hundreds of thousands of voters and leading them to the polls for Parsley and Johnson's anointed candidate.

"If you think 2004 was something, we have not reached critical mass! We are the largest special interest group! ... We're building order from chaos! We're fighting the sword with the word! We're fighting savagery with hope!" the televangelist shouted at the "War on Christians" conference. "I came to incite a riot! Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!"[5]

In meetings across Ohio, "Patriot Pastor" recruits are told of a world in which the "forces of darkness" are working through politics to destroy the country and its destiny as a Christian nation. Johnson and Parsley warn of an America where Christianity is under siege from powerful cultural and political forces, and they often find a receptive audience for such claims on one side of the sharply divided political landscape.

Parsley and Johnson are frequently joined onstage by Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. In 2006, Parsley and Johnson's call for pastors to mobilize their congregations to register voters and turn out at the polls are heard almost entirely in the context of Blackwell's campaign for the governorship, and he is the only candidate to speak at their meetings.

"This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell," says Johnson.[6] While Parsley and Johnson claim their churches do not explicitly endorse candidates - Johnson says he just wants "decent people" to be elected[7] - their close collaboration with Blackwell suggests a different story. The "Patriot Pastors" movement is so interwoven with Blackwell's campaign that critics have begun to question whether their operations still qualify for tax-exempt status like a church, or whether it is more accurate to classify them as political action committees.

Waging Holy War in Ohio

Parsley's plan of attack extends well beyond bellicose rhetoric. The televangelist's charisma and high-energy revivals have helped him build one of the most successful megachurch ministries in the nation, with a nearly $40-million-a-year budget that includes a 5,200-seat church, a prep school, a Bible college, a mission program, a church jet, and more.[8] Through his church, he formed the Center for Moral Clarity, a political arm devoted to organizing pastors and "advocat[ing] for biblical moral values."[9] The Center's "Reformation Ohio" project seeks "to bring the Buckeye State what it needs most - the love of Jesus Christ," not only by converting 100,000 souls, but also by registering 400,000 voters.[10]

Russell Johnson, Parsley's pastor-in-arms, operates the Ohio Restoration Project, which aims to recruit 2,000 "Patriot Pastors" to lead the battle against the "forces of darkness" at the ballot box. Johnson hopes to push the "seculars and the jihadists" - or, as he alternately says, the "secular jihadists" - "into the dust bin of history," for their efforts to "hijack" the nation and "deny America's Godly heritage."[11]

Almost without fail, Johnson exploits the notion of a Christian America that is being persecuted and destroyed from within. Describing the "spiritual warfare of epic proportions" he sees taking place in the nation, Johnson writes on the group's web site: "From our country's classrooms to our court houses, from Christmas carols to graduation celebrations, from the pledge of allegiance to our state motto . . . the forces of darkness have opposed every public expression of allegiance to God." He cites not only familiar social grievances such as evolution, abortion, and same-sex marriage, but also economic ones such as medical malpractice insurance and tax policy. "How long will Ohio's families be burdened by excessive taxes and government waste?" he asks, echoing the Republican Party's talking points.[12]

Parsley also embraces the economic Right's ideology, even when it comes to poverty: "I'm convinced the best thing government can do to help the poor is to get out of the way. If government reduced taxes, removed industrial restraints, eliminated wage controls, and abolished subsidies, tariff[s], and other constraints on free enterprise, the poor would be helped in a way that [Aid to Families With Dependent Children], Social Security, and unemployment insurance could never match."[13]

Parsley and Johnson were instrumental in organizing voters for Ohio's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. Parsley spoke to hundreds of pastors to encourage them to mobilize their congregations for the Issue 1 ballot initiative, which even many of the state's leading conservative Republicans - Gov. Bob Taft, Attorney General Jim Petro, and Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine - opposed as poorly drafted and overly broad. As reported in USA Today, by one month before the election Parsley had "assembled a list of 100,000 Ohio acolytes, all of whom [would] be called by the World Harvest Church on the eve of the election reminding them to vote."[14]

As the "Patriot Pastors" flexed their political muscles, they drew attention from national religious-right activists. Many on the Right credited their efforts for turning out evangelicals and giving George W. Bush a narrow margin of victory in one of the most tightly-contested states in the presidential campaign - although post-election analyses refute such claims.[15]

An Ohio Political Machine

It was during the Issue 1 campaign that Parsley and Johnson began a fruitful collaboration with the amendment's chief proponent, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell's close association with Parsley and Johnson has continued since the passage of the anti-gay constitutional amendment, ranging from public rallies and "Patriot Pastors" policy briefings to flying on a church-owned plane.[16]

With Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign in full swing, the "Patriot Pastor" events have featured Johnson and Parsley highlighting Blackwell and extolling the candidate's virtues. At a rally on the state Capitol steps, Parsley boomed over a Jumbotron screen, "Let the Reformation begin! Shout it like you're going to carry the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ the length and breadth of the Buckeye State!" Parsley then introduced Blackwell as "a man of great conviction, consistently standing for family, life, marriage, and faith throughout his public service." At other events, Johnson followed Blackwell's speech to pastors by presenting the man he called a "leader of leaders" with a "courageous leadership award" in the form of a large, gilded-eagle trophy-a ritual he repeated a number of times before different audiences of pastors.[17] Other speakers at these rallies, such as firebrand former Sen. Zell Miller and former Rep. J.C. Watts, explicitly endorse Blackwell.[18] No other candidate for the office has been featured, and they each say they were never invited.[19]

“Let the Reformation begin! Shout it like you’re going to carry the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ the length and breadth of the Buckeye State!”
- Rod Parsley

Blackwell in turn embraces and endorses the "Patriot Pastors" and their conjuration of Christianity under attack. "We cannot sit back and let the public square be stripped naked of truth, of religion, and of God," he told a group of 300 pastors at one Ohio Restoration Project rally, urging them to rededicate the anti-gay marriage efforts of 2004 to the electoral campaign of 2006-which happens to be his own race. "People think November 2004 was just an accident of history. They doubt your ability and your will and your commitment to your faith and your drive to stay engaged and sustain the battle."[20]

While Johnson has already helped a half dozen of his church members win election to local office, the primary goal of his Ohio Restoration Project is to elect Blackwell, as The New York Times noted. The original plan of the group, posted on its web site, called for "Pastor Policy Briefings" and "God and Country Rallies" featuring Blackwell alongside national religious-right leaders such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, and Pat Robertson, culminating in a 2,000-pastor, 25,000-person Ohio for Jesus Rally with Blackwell, as well as a series of "30-second radio spots featuring Secretary of State Ken Blackwell on 'The Stewardship of our Citizenship.'" All of this was to be organized in time to register voters for the primary and general elections.[21] (Blackwell won the Republican primary in May.)

In spite of openly campaigning on behalf of Kenneth Blackwell, Johnson and Parsley claim their operations are purely nonpartisan, an apparent fig leaf designed to protect their tax-exempt status. Johnson told PBS that his opposition to the Democratic Party was due to its becoming "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the teacher's union, who has said No to Intelligent Design, Yes to abortion, Yes to homosexual marriage, and No to reading the Bible." Parsley describes himself simply as a "Christocrat," rather than a Republican or Democrat, and urges his followers to be the same, telling them that the kingdom they serve "is not a democracy; [it] is a theocracy."[22]

But when criticized for their politicking, Parsley and Johnson escalate their rhetoric. In January, a group of 31 (later 56) Columbus-area ministers and rabbis filed a complaint with the IRS accusing the churches of endorsing and electioneering for Blackwell. World Harvest Church fired back, calling them "left-leaning" and accusing them of carrying "a political agenda" and operating "a campaign of harassment."[23]

And Johnson accused the clergy who dared to call attention to his politicking of launching a "secular jihad against expressions of faith," and "spiritual adultery" for supposedly aligning with the ACLU. "On the day we celebrated Martin Luther King's accomplishments as a leader and minister, the religious left sent people to the back of the bus," said Johnson at a "Patriot Pastor" meeting in Hartville. Blackwell told the group, "You tell those 31 bullies that you aren't about to be whupped."[24]

Parsley and Johnson have built a powerful political machine with growing influence in Ohio and the potential to reconfigure both the political and spiritual map, as godliness becomes more clearly defined on a partisan ideological spectrum. There's no sign that Blackwell, Parsley, or Johnson have any intention to back off from their partnership or their mission to wage religious warfare through the ballot box. In fact, they are counting on victory in the 2006 governor's race, which would cement the position of Parsley and Johnson as Republican kingmakers in the state and provide a powerful prototype for Religious Right activists in other parts of the country. As Johnson wrote on his church's web site, "[W]hat happens in Ohio in the next 18 months could very well make an impact on what happens in America in the next 20-30 years."[25]

Texas: "Patriot Pastors" for Perry

While all eyes are on Ohio and Blackwell's "Patriot Pastors"-infused governor's race, a similar story is unfolding in Texas, a state that is "seeing an evolution in the religious right's tactics. Today more and more conservative pastors are using their pulpits to press a hard-right political agenda," as the Texas Freedom Network reports.[26]

Texas is home to a pioneer of pulpit-based politics, Rick Scarborough, the former minister of First Baptist Church in Pearland and a long-time ally of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Scarborough's efforts to "mobilize" pastors in politics go back at least as far as 1996, when he ran an ultraconservative-insurgency campaign for president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. (He lost.) In his book that year, Enough Is Enough, Scarborough described his success in creating a local political machine around his church, strongly urging his congregants to run for office at all levels: "At this writing, three members of our church serve on the city council. . . Four of our members serve on the school board. The city manager is a member of our church. The police chief is a member of our church. The assistant district attorney of Brazoria County is a member of our church. . ."[27]

And in 2000, his political organization Vision America put together a conference of Religious Right heavyweights to "figure out how to compensate for the waning influence of the Christian Coalition in electoral politics," as the National Journal reported. The group's director, a Christian Coalition veteran, described the difference between the organizations as a new emphasis on mobilizing pastors to lead their congregations to the polls by concentrating on core social issues such as abortion, gay rights, and pornography.[28]

By 2004, Scarborough created his own network of "Patriot Pastors" to lead evangelicals to the polls for the 2004 election, and expanded it to at least 5,000 by the time Texas voters ratified a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2005. "One of my goals in life is to give the Republican Party courage," he told The Washington Post during the debate over the "nuclear option" to push through Bush's extremist judicial nominees.[29] At the same time, Scarborough's Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration worked in Washington to push Bush's judicial nominees, organizing a conference timed around the death of Terri Schiavo at which DeLay urged the impeachment of judges, and other speakers suggested execution.[30]

Lawrence White
“For it seems to me that the only moral collapse comparable to what is happening in America today that has ever taken place is that which occurred in Germany in the 1920s through the 1940s.”

- Rev. Laurence White,
Texas Restoration Project

In 2005, Houston pastor Rev. Dr. Laurence White took the movement to the next level with the formation of the Texas Restoration Project. White, a mainstay of the Christian-persecution circuit who shares Russell Johnson's penchant for comparing America today to Nazi Germany,[31] spoke at Johnson's Ohio Restoration Project "Patriot Pastor" events in 2004, and he brought the same model to Texas' effort to pass a similar anti-gay marriage amendment the next year. The group put together a series of closed-door "pastors' policy briefings" featuring Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who is running for re-election. At two of these events in September, 2005, one Texas minister speculated that "God sent Katrina to purify the sins of America," saying, "That week there was no gambling, no prostitution, no sins in New Orleans. It became one of the purest cities in America during that time."[32] Both Rod Parsley and Kenneth Blackwell have spoken at Texas Restoration Project briefings.[33]

Perry has taken full advantage of this fortuitous alliance. Vision America's web site lists the governor's endorsement: "One hundred years from now people will ask 'where did the great revival of the early 21st Century begin.' And we'll tell them it started ... with people like Rick Scarborough and [Christian-nation speaker and Texas GOP vice chairman] David Barton." In mid-2005, the governor held a high-profile, ceremonial signing of a same-sex marriage ban (which voters would officially ratify later that year) and an abortion bill at a church school, flanked by Rod Parsley, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Laurence White. "We're so blessed in Texas to have a guy like Laurence White," Perry told the crowd.[34]

As Perry's 2006 re-election campaign continues, the connections he developed with the Texas Restoration Project and the campaign for the gay marriage ban will become more crucial to him. As the 2005 anti-gay ballot initiative passed, Perry's consultants told newspapers that their job was to "recontact people that haven't voted in the Republican primary but who voted in [the marriage amendment] election" and "communicate with them" about the governor's race.[35] White aims to register 300,000 voters, and his group is giving Perry a golden opportunity to speak to closed-door meetings of "Patriot Pastors" who could prove crucial in his reelection campaign.

Pennsylvania, Florida and Missouri

One of the highest national priorities of the Religious Right in 2006 is to ensure that Sen. Rick Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, is re-elected in what promises to be a hard-fought race. Santorum is admired by the Patriot Pastors for his own strident rhetoric -- he has compared gay couples to "man on dog" relations. And his re-election would help ensure that control of the Senate stays in the hands of the Republican Party.

In March, a group called the Pennsylvania Pastors Network began holding training sessions aimed at mobilizing pastors to turn out their congregations at the polls. At the first meeting, Santorum appeared via videotape championing the proposed federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, telling the pastors, "I encourage you to let your voices be heard from the pulpit." In addition, the group distributed copies of Santorum's political manifesto "It Takes a Family," largely a diatribe against liberals, which master of ceremonies Colin Hanna endorsed as "thoroughly and soundly grounded in Christian doctrine."[36]

Hanna is founder of Let Freedom Ring, one of the four organizations composing the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, and he also operates an anti-immigration project called WeNeedAFence.com. He looks specifically to Ohio's "Patriot Pastors" movement as a model, the "vanguard" of a church-based political "awakening." "I very much want Pennsylvania to be with them." Organizers from Ohio spoke at the PPN event, and Hanna told the pastors, "As we listen to how they did it in Ohio, think about how it relates to us in Pennsylvania."[37]

The "Patriot Pastors" movement is also looking to Florida. In January, as the deadline approached for gathering signatures to put on the ballot an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, Rod Parsley, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Texas Republican Party Vice Chairman and "Christian nation" speaker David Barton, and Laurence White of the Texas Restoration Project descended on Orlando for a "policy briefing" with 300 pastors under the auspices of a "Florida Restoration Project." "The Devil is a liar and it's time we stopped listening to his lies in America and saw what is happening in our country for what it truly is - the soul of America is dying," said White.[38] However, the movement failed to gather enough signatures before the February 1 deadline.

Most recently, Rick Scarborough has turned to Missouri, where a referendum will decide the fate of a stem-cell research facility this November. "I will be spending the next 5 months looking for Patriot Pastors who will...stand up, speak up and refuse to give up...in Missouri," wrote Scarborough in a fundraising e-mail (ellipses in original), adding that he will "hold five major rallies around the state featuring Alan Keyes and myself, and a minimum of 10 Pastor Briefings, each gathering up to 100 Pastors."[39]

Manipulating the Persecuted Majority Syndrome

The national backdrop for these movements to "reform" and "restore" America is the heightened rhetoric of persecution broadcast by Religious Right interest groups and right-wing media. Despite the Right's domination of the Republican agenda, activists are pushing hard the notion that Christianity itself is under attack, a sentiment that can be used to build support for their far-right policy aims. This campaign has reached a fever pitch in recent years.

In 2005 and 2006, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family organized three televised rallies called "Justice Sunday" to support the use of the "nuclear option" to push through several of Bush's most extreme judicial nominees, and to support Bush's two Supreme Court nominees. The flyer for the first "Justice Sunday" - titled "Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith" - showed a young man holding a gavel in one hand and a Bible in the other, painting an absurd picture of a world in which Christians were barred from public service.

At the "Justice Sunday" events, prominent Republican politicians - including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Sen. Rick Santorum, and then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay - joined right-wing luminaries like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Phyllis Schlafly in claiming that opposition to Bush's nominees was founded in "bigotry" against "people of faith." Speakers claimed that they - meaning Christians - were being "silenced" and "treated like second-class citizens" because of U.S. laws and court decisions they disagreed with. Meanwhile, phone numbers for Senate offices flashed on the TV screen, as the speakers urged viewers to call in their support for Bush's radical judicial nominees.[40]

In December, right-wing hysteria over a supposed "War on Christmas" reached epic proportions. Wildly hyped in Religious Right media and on the Fox News Channel, this "War on Christmas" was a "Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday" (according to the subtitle of Fox host John Gibson's timely book) involving retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Sears that used the greeting "Happy Holidays" and a handful of localities and school districts using the term "winter break" rather than "Christmas break." Top-rated Fox cable personality Bill O'Reilly warned of a "very secret plan" by George Soros and the ACLU to "diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A." and eventually to "wipe[] out religion" in the manner of "Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro."[41] Some groups even went so far as to run advertisements portraying then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito as the embattled protector of Christmas.[42]

And in March, Texas "Patriot Pastor" organizer Rick Scarborough assembled a conference in Washington on "The War on Christians and Values Voters in 2006" and the supposed "growing hostility toward all things religious." In a sign-on letter entitled "The Values Voters' Contract with Congress," these "values voters" were urged to "join together now to defend representative self-government against the greatest assault it has ever faced," from "'liberal' and 'progressive' forces within our society" who "have waged an insidious campaign to corrupt and destroy the moral foundations of our liberty."[43]

At this conference, the supposed persecution of Christians by "radical secularism," Hollywood, the media, immigrants, and federal judges was bemoaned in the same breath as the death sentence given an Afghani man who converted to Christianity, which was then in the news - an example of actual persecution. Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America, warned that Democrats who cited their faith were trying to "fool ... us, the values voters" into thinking they were religious. For example, she said, when John Kerry quoted the Bible during the presidential debates, he was just "trying to dazzle you." Former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer went so far as to claim that the culture war gives ammunition to Al Qaeda. "They believe they can win because they think you and I are decadent. ... I understand why they're confused."

Reformation Ohio's Rod Parsley and Texas Restoration Project's Laurence White were both featured speakers at Scarborough's "War on Christians" conference, looking to enhance their national profiles.

Conclusion

Parsley, White, Johnson, and Scarborough are in many ways the next generation of the Religious Right movement, which has grown dramatically in the past two decades from fringe status to being perhaps the dominant partner in the Republican coalition. They make no bones about manipulating an atmosphere of resentment over a feverish persecution narrative, and they do not hesitate to mobilize churches in direct electoral politics - the latest stage in the evolution of the Religious Right, and potentially far more effective than interest-group lobbying.

The 2006 elections could be a turning point for the "Patriot Pastor" movements. In Pennsylvania, generally considered a swing state, Sen. Rick Santorum is facing his toughest opponent yet. If it continues to grow and Santorum continues to court its favor, the Pennsylvania Pastors Network could become a significant factor in what is likely to be a very close race. While Texas Gov. Rick Perry looks to be the clear favorite in a crowded race, he has carefully cultivated a relationship with the "Patriot Pastors," and in turn, White and Scarborough are working to establish the role they hope to play in future campaigns in the state.

And in Ohio, especially, the political machine built around the "Patriot Pastors" could rewrite the state's politics. Ohio is also considered a swing state, and already, Ken Blackwell's victory in the GOP primary - with the help of "Patriot Pastor" campaigning and voter registration - represents a major accomplishment for Parsley and Johnson. A victory in November would firmly establish the pastors' political influence as kingmakers, as any candidate they anoint would have access to a grassroots network of "Patriot Pastors."

"We are not here to influence a political agenda," said Parsley to the crowd he bussed in to Ohio's Capitol Square. "We are here to declare an agenda of our own. ... History is never ruled by the majority; it is ruled by a dedicated minority."[44] Already, the "Patriot Pastors" have injected a new dimension to politics in Ohio, Texas, and elsewhere, with their calls for "warfare" against the "hordes of hell" at the ballot box. Election Day in 2006 is an important test of how well such a political machine really works. But win or lose in November, the "Patriot Pastors" aren't going away.

Endnotes

  1. Texas Freedom Network Education Fund (TFN), The State of the Religious Right 2006: The Anatomy of Power, 2006, p. 22 [link].
  2. David Brancaccio, "God's Country?" NOW, PBS, Apr. 28, 2006 [link] [video]. Doug Oplinger and Dennis Willard, "Pastors Bring Blackwell to Hartville," Akron Beacon Journal, Jan. 18, 2006 [link].
  3. Marttila Communications Group, Anti-Defamation League Survey, Nov. 2005.
  4. People For the American Way Foundation, "The Liberal "War" On Christians and "Values Voters Conference".
  5. Ibid.
  6. Marilyn Karfeld, "Patriot Pastors," Cleveland Jewish News, July 29, 2005 [link]. Jeremy Leaming, "Armageddon in Ohio," Church & State, June 2005 [link].
  7. Randy Ludlow, "Church Says It Wants 'Decent People' Elected," Columbus Dispatch, Apr. 3, 2006.
  8. Dennis Mahoney, "Higher Aspirations," Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 21, 2005.
  9. Center for Moral Clarity, "In Support of Judge Alito," release, Jan. 5, 2005.
  10. Mahoney, "Higher Aspirations" [link]. ReformationOhio.org [link]. Sarah Posner, "With God on his Side," American Prospect, Nov. 10, 2005 [link].
  11. Susan Page, "Shaping Politics from the Pulpit," USA Today, Aug. 2, 2005 [link]. Ohio Restoration Project web site.
  12. Ohio Restoration Project web site.
  13. Sara Posner, "With God On His Side," American Prospect, Nov. 10, 2005 [link].
  14. Page, "Shaping Politics." Walter Shapiro, "Ohio Churches Hope Marriage Ban Prods Voters to Polls," USA Today, Sep. 26, 2004 [link].
  15. E.g., Bishop Harry Jackson said of Parsley, "Probably President Bush would not be in office today had it not been for him." Posner, "With God On His Side." Ethan Geto, "The Democratic Party, 'Moral Values' and Gay Rights: The Marriage of Politics and Principle," Geto & deMilly Inc. (130 E. 40th St, 16th floor, New York, NY).
  16. "Blackwell Met with Ministers More Often Than IRS Complaint Alleged," Associated Press, Apr. 24, 2006 [link].
  17. Brancaccio, "God's Country?" [link] [video]. Ted Wendling, "Televangelist's Rally Draws 2,000 to State Capitol," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Oct. 15, 2005.
  18. Joe Hallett, "Pastors Urged to Recruit 400,000 Voters," Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 30, 2005. William Hershey, "Groups Gather to Advocate Politics Behind Pulpit," Dayton Daily News, Mar. 12, 2006.
  19. Joe Hallett, "Blackwell Tells Pastors to Ignore Complaint," Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 18, 2006.
  20. Joe Hallett, "Blackwell Enlists Pastors to Mobilize 'Values Voters' for 2006," Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 26, 2005.
  21. James Dao, "Movement in the Pews Tries to Jolt Ohio," New York Times, Mar. 27, 2005. Karfeld, "Patriot Pastors." The ORP plan is reprinted, among other places, at E.J. Kessler, "Campaign Confidential: Mobilizing Churches for the GOP," Forward.com, June 2, 2005 [link].
  22. Brancaccio, "God's Country?" Mahoney, "Higher Aspirations."
  23. Mark Naymik, "2 Megachurches Accused of Shilling for Blackwell," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jan. 17, 2006. Mark Fisher and Dennis Mahoney, "Laws of Man, God Obeyed, World Harvest Church Says," Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 17, 2006. Andrew Welsh-Huggins, "Church Criticizes IRS Complaint as Harassment," AP, Apr. 7, 2006.
  24. Joe Hallett, "Blackwell Tells Pastors to Ignore Complaint."
  25. Jeremy Leaming, "Armageddon in Ohio," Church & State, June 2005 [link].
  26. TFN, p. 14.
  27. Juan Palomo, "State Is Set for Battle of Texas Baptists," Austin American Statesman, Nov. 10, 1996. Richard Vara, "Baptist Moderates Control Convention," Houston Chronicle, Nov. 16, 1996. Joseph Conn, "Bully Pulpit," Church & State, May 1996.
  28. Peter Stone, "Rumblings on the Right," National Journal, Mar. 18, 2000.
  29. Shailagh Murray, "Filibuster Fray Lifts Profile of Minister," Washington Post, May 8 ,2005 [link].
  30. PFAW Foundation, "The Right's Crusade Against the Independent Judiciary," Apr. 2005. Max Blumenthal, "In Contempt of Courts," TheNation.com, Apr. 11, 2005 [link].
  31. Dr. Laurence White, "The Sin of Silence," address to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sep. 6, 2000 [link].
  32. R.G. Ratcliffe, "Ministers Ask Faithful to Help Ban Gay Marriage," Houston Chronicle, Sep. 18, 2005.
  33. TFN, p. 16. AP, "Blackwell Met With Ministers."
  34. Dave Fehling, "Houston Minister Could Help Decide Next Governor," KHOU, June 15, 2005 [link] [video]. Matt Curry, "Texas Governor Mobilizes Evangelicals," AP, June 12, 2005 [link].
  35. TFN, p. 16.
  36. David Kirkpatrick, "Pastors' Get-Out-the-Vote Training Could Test Tax Rules," New York Times, Mar. 21, 2006.
  37. Dao, "Movement in the Pews." Kirkpatrick, "Pastors' Get-Out-the-Vote."
  38. James A. Smith Sr., "Pastors Seek 'Miracle,' Action for Marriage Amendment Initiative," Florida Baptist Witness, Jan. 26, 2006 [link]. Family Research Council, "Prayer Targets - Alito Confirmation," Jan. 31, 2006 [link].
  39. PFAW, "Texas 'Patriot Pastors' Plan to Spread to Missouri," NewsFromtheRight.org, June 27, 2006 [link].
  40. People For the American Way, "What Is Justice Sunday?" .
  41. People For the American Way, "The Right Wing's 'War on Happy Holidays'". "The O'Reilly Factor," Fox News Channel, Nov. 28, 2005, cited in Media Matters for America, "O'Reilly: 'There's a Very Secret Plan ... to Diminish Christian Philosophy in the U.S.A.,'" Nov. 30, 2005 [link].
  42. People For the American Way, "Unhappy Holidays: Judge Alito and the Right's Phony 'War on Christmas'" .
  43. PFAW Foundation, "The Liberal "War" On Christians [link].
  44. Wendling, "Televangelist's Rally Draws 2,000 to State Capitol."
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