by Lorette C. Luzajic
Part 21 of Pillars of Faith
The Demons are at it Again
Ohio’s Rod Parsley is another megachurch megaphone living the lifestyle of the rich and shameless. With a private jet and millionaire’s estate, he’s clearly not starving. But Rod’s never been shy about saying, literally, “show me the money,” and he’s not shy now about asking for more. Recently Rod announced a Satanic attack on his ministry — the poor haven’t been giving as much as he wants. In addition, he already gave away $3 million of the World Harvest Church’s dollars — “our” dollars — to settle damages in a lawsuit for child abuse. Rather than apologize for a baby leaving the church’s Cuddle Care room with welts, scratches, and cuts, having been beaten with a ruler, Rod blames a “demonically inspired assault against us.”
Prior to this episode, another toddler had a fractured skull. His parents were told he had collided with another kid. Church admin were forbidden to discuss the incidents with anyone. (There were also incidents where Rod’s dad was charged with sexually harassing a church member, and a civic suit where a member charged Rod and Dad of beating him to a pulp. The charges were dropped against Rod, but his dad pleased no contest. The defendant also claimed that his $7,000 tithe was used for “the enrichment of Rodney Parsley, his parents and others so as to achieve an opulent lifestyle for themselves.”)
Of course, like all other dominionist preachers, abortion is at the top of Rod’s anti-Satan agenda, despite that he doesn’t like the little ones enough to hire staff who don’t beat them. “Infanticide” is followed closely by the gay threat, and then by Islam. Where other evangels may use diplomacy when discussing other faiths, Rod says straight up that God wants America to “destroy” the Muslim world, and that Muhammad was possessed by demons.
As for queers, Rod opposes hate crime legislation, which would infringe on his right to gay bash. He has likened these laws to Orwell’s 1984, stating the “sole intent is to limit traditional biblical thinking and biblical speaking.” He warns: “You see, the legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people—hear me now—not for their actions, but for their culturally incorrect thoughts.” So much for Thou Shalt Not Lie — the proposed legislation seeks only to outlaw violent actions, and specifies it does NOT extend to speech or religious expression.
Many dominionists lay low about being God’s chosen, but Rod says you’d better vote Republican or face the fiery furnace, that we are called to be “Christocrats.” America — and the world — must subscribe to the Christian Reich’s interpretation of Biblical values, and there is no room for Satanic liberal theology, biology, or civil rights. Following God “is not a democracy; that is a theocracy,” he says.
God as Gold
To be fair, the reverend’s Bridges of Hope ministry has delivered food, water, and medical care to developing nations and at home. There are strings attached, of course: the heathens — obviously afflicted because of their rejection of God, witchcraft and sodomy — must hear how their predicament is caused by God’s wrath. Rod preaches clearly that God is gold — poverty is spiritual bondage. His saviour didn’t have a pot to piss in — and preached that he himself was the poor, the stranger, the prisoner. He said that anyone who denied the poor would not enter the kingdom of heaven.
But Rod, who has said, “I am superior to the forces of darkness,” preaches that “for you to live from paycheck to paycheck is to deny the power of the gospel.” What the “good news” means for “a poor man is that he doesn’t have to be poor anymore.” Those living in “financial bondage” have refused the flow of the gospel. “You have denied the perpetual propulsion of power that could deliver you from not only sin and sickness but from the horrible stench of poverty.”
Of course, poverty isn’t caused by underemployment, colonization, overpopulation, hurricanes and other inhospitable climates, disease, mental illness, corrupt governments, or greed — it’s because we didn’t buy one of Pastor Rod’s “miracle prayer cloths.”
Just in case we weren’t completely sure what he means by all this prosperity talk, Rod spells it out for us: “I just love to talk about your money. Let me be very clear — I want your money. I deserve it. This church deserves it.”
Lorette C. Luzajic writes about all kinds of interesting people at Fascinating People. Her latest book is the anthology, Goodbye Billie Jean: the Meaning of Michael Jackson.