A Missing Voice in Ohio

mccain-rod-parsley250x200.jpg The New York Times notes that the evangelical power broker Reverend Rod Parsley of Ohio does not have his same swagger this year.

Six months ago, Rev. Rod Parsley was one of the more prominent evangelicals to hail Sen. John McCain as a “strong, true, consistent conservative.”

But two days before the election, in a state central to Mr. McCain’s hopes, Rev. Rod Parsley preached to his vast congregation at World Harvest Church of hellfire and “circling in on a fight with the eternal forces of darkness” without ever mentioning Mr. McCain.

The reason is pretty simple. Mother Jones revealed that Parsley, a major megacurch pastor who holds sway over a good number of swing state Ohio voters, leads a not-so-secret life as an intolerant anti-Muslim bigot. In one of his books, he argued that America is at war with Islam:

The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

Mother Jones unearthed video of Parsley making similar statements. He claimed Islam was an “anti-Christ religion that intends, through violence, to conquer the world,” adding, “Allah was a demon spirit.”

John McCain once called the leaders of the religious right “agents of intolerance.” But in 2008, he decided to embrace the evangelical community as part of his bid for the White House, and that included a trip to Ohio where he called Parsley “one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide.” In an environment where pastors are a particularly sensitive topic (thank you, Mr. Wright), it would not do for John McCain to be associated with such a man. Even the United States, which will likely tolerate discrimination against Muslims long after any other group, would not let a presidential candidate stand side by side with someone with such an abhorrent view of over 1 billion people across the world.

And so, after some stalling and stonewalling, McCain repudiated Parsley and his support, saying, “I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America… and I reject his endorsement.” Since then, McCain hasn’t mentioned Parsley and Parsley appears to have dropped politics. An agent of intolerance has been neutralized.