More churches stand up to Ohio dominionists!
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Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:26:10 PM EST
Two weeks ago, I reported on a major precedent in the fight against dominionists hijacking our country and hijacking Christianity.

31 pastors of Columbus area churches joined together to file formal legal complaint with the IRS against two dominionist churches--World Harvest Church and Fairfield Christian Church--at the heart of the "Ohio Restoration Movement" and similar moves to set up "Patriot Pastor" movements in other states (such as Texas).

And now the movement by these pastors--which I affectionately refer to as the "Ohio Rebellion" (in the Rebel Alliance or even Revolutionary sense, of course) snowballing.

Per the Columbus Dispatch (which has been the major newspaper covering this story) and a recent mirrored post on Dark Christianity:
Religious leaders who accused two evangelical pastors of illegally playing politics came forward yesterday and reaffirmed their decision to challenge the tax-exempt status of the pastors' churches.

Arrayed around the pulpit at the North Broadway United Methodist Church in Columbus, 22 of 31 pastors who originally filed the complaint with the Internal Revenue Service gathered for a news conference to defend their rare and explosive action. Yesterday, the ranks of signers grew to 33.

And the Rev. Eric Williams, senior pastor of the North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus, said at least two dozen more ministers from Ohio and across the nation have asked to have their names added to the complaint seeking an IRS investigation into the political activities of the Rev. Rod Parsley, of World Harvest Church in Columbus, and the Rev. Russell Johnson, of Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster.

"We come from different traditions, we come perhaps from different theological points of view, we come from different experiences, but we all come together around this one single concern," Williams said, referring to the pastors representing nine Judeo-Christian denominations.

The pastors want the IRS to determine whether the two evangelical megachurches headed by Parsley and Johnson, along with three affiliated organizations, should lose their tax-exempt status for participating in partisan politics.

The original action--which I reported on here on Talk2Action--by these pastors is in itself historic; to the best of any researchers' knowledge, this is the first time a complaint against a church for electioneering has ever been filed by other members of the clergy.  

The fact that other clergymen, both in Ohio and nationwide, are now joining the Ohio Rebellion is most encouraging indeed.  (This is exactly the sort of action that is needed in mainstream churches, IMHO.)

True to form, the pastors of the dominionist churches have already begun demonising the Ohio Rebellion and the clergy behind it, calling them literally unholy:

Until yesterday, only about nine of the complaining pastors -- whom Johnson (of Fairfield Christian) labeled "an unholy alliance" -- had been identified. But they revealed themselves yesterday under pressure from the public and Parsley, who last week called them the "anonymous 31." The pastors said they acted as individuals and not on behalf of their churches.

The Rev. David W. Meredith of the United Methodist Church said "there was never any intention to keep our names secret" and it was difficult to assemble "very busy clergy" for a public event.

In a statement released last night, Parsley said, "I welcome the news that the liberal clergy members who filed these baseless allegations against us have decided to publicly identify themselves. We've been praying for these clergy since all this began and we look forward to the opportunity to pray for them by name."

(Although it may not seem like it to people outside the dominionist community, Parsley actually directly threatened the pastors making legal complaint.  In neopentecostal churches, especially those into "Third Wave" theology (of which World Harvest Church is an embracer thereof), "word-faith" movements and the "spiritual warfare" aspects of dominion theology, one extremely common method of specifically "cursing people in the name of Christ" is to get groups of people to pray over the names of "targets" for all manner of harm to come over them until they convert (and to will all manner of harm to come to them for the specific purpose of bending them to the dominionists' will).  I've detailed the specific process here.)

Needless to say, the dominionist pastors are trying to play "But if you'd just talked to us...", but the pastors behind the Ohio Rebellion are having none of it.  And, for the most part, their congregations are behind them:

Parsley said if the pastors had come to him personally, "rather than air their grievances in the media, we certainly would have quickly put their fears to rest."

But the Rev. John Edgar, of the United Methodist Church, said, "It's not a conversation about whether or not we should have gone to Pastor Parsley ahead of time. It's about whether or not there's a violation of the IRS code . . . Clearly, there are significant violations. They knew it and the person they were helping (Blackwell) is someone who should have enforced the laws that were being broken."

Most of the pastors who assembled yesterday said they have told their congregations they signed the complaint and were overwhelmingly supported.

"When I told my congregation on Sunday during our worship service, there was a round of spontaneous applause," said the Rev. Kim Keethler Ball, of the American Baptist Church.

"As American Baptists, one of our core values, like the other traditions here, is that we value separation of church and state. For us, this issue falls in that realm and, precisely, (in the complaint) the issue is running a political campaign from church for a particular candidate."

The Rev. Lee Anne Reat, of the Episcopal Church, said she told her congregants she signed the complaint during her sermon Sunday.

"I talked about the need for a broader voice to be heard in the religious domain: a voice that takes into account the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans and the freedoms that we enjoy as people of faith -- freedoms that were an original gift from God. The response from my congregation was that there were a lot of tears, tears of pride. They are very much in support of the action that this group has taken. We stand proudly as people of faith, not an unholy alliance."

We need to see a lot more like this, but this is an encouraging start here. :3

Thought I'd re-post the link since it may have gotten buried in the previous thread. This news wasn't limited to Columbus. The New York Times (TimesSelect at this point) published a very decent article on the challenge - an exciting development since getting the news out to a wider audience is essential. Even if IRS doesn't do an audit, this kind of coverage will alert more people to the problem, help to educate them about the distinction between the Religious Right "Christians" and mainline clergy, and let the Right know that they no longer have the freedom to operate freely without fear of repercussions. Moderates and liberals tend to "turn the other cheek" and avoid fights. Doesn't work with this aggressive group.

by Psyche on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 06:24:31 PM EST

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