Intolerance, Extremism, Pursuit of Political Power Mark New Generation of Religious Right Leaders

Report Documents Rise of ‘Patriot Pastors’ Movement in Ohio and Other States

“I came to incite a riot! Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!” Those incendiary words are the rallying cry of televangelist Rod Parsley, a leader of an increasingly prominent group of Religious Right activists known as the “Patriot Pastors” who are using their pulpits to advance far-right policies and politicians at the ballot box.

Today, People For the American Way Foundation, the NAACP, and the African American Ministers Leadership Council released a report, The Patriot Pastors’ Electoral War Against the ‘Hordes of Hell’, that documents how this new generation of Religious Right leaders is turning churches into political machines for far-right Republican candidates.

“The rise of the ‘Patriot Pastors’ is bad news for Americans who care about the health of our democracy” said PFAW Foundation President Ralph G. Neas. “Their harmful political agenda, their misuse of faith as a political weapon, and their absolute intolerance of disagreement are a poisonous combination.”

The report documents that leaders of the Patriot Pastor movement use claims of anti-Christian persecution – political opponents are “the forces of darkness” and “the hordes of hell" – to push a harmful mix of right-wing social, political and economic policies.

“The ‘Patriot Pastors’ aren’t the first to use religion as a cover for policies that undermine opportunity and perpetuate injustice,” said NAACP President and CEO Bruce S. Gordon. “They are the latest in a long line. We must match their zeal with our own faith in justice, our own commitment to progress.”

The “Patriot Pastors” first mobilized in Ohio and Texas, where they already wield political influence—they played a significant role in Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell’s primary victory, for example, and are a key part of his general election strategy—and they are now spreading their organizing techniques to other states, including Pennsylvania, Florida and Missouri.

Many religious leaders reject the Patriot Pastors’ political agenda, as well their hostility to separation of church and state.

“Martin Luther King used the prophetic voice of the black church to rally people of all faiths in the cause of humanity and social justice,” said Rev. Timothy McDonald, founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “The Patriot Pastors wield religion as a divisive political weapon in the cause of a reactionary social and economic agenda.”

The “Patriot Pastors” are a political force that should be on the radar screen of anyone who wants to understand the Religious Right and its effect on electoral politics. The new report on the “Patriot Pastors” is available at www.pfaw.org/go/patriotpastors.

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