11 January 2006

Fundamentalists get Freudian, for real.

“With the right
hand of my
righteousness.”

Do you experience erectile dysfunction? Would you like a little more size? Pastor Rod Parsley wants to help — he’ll turn your “male headship” into a deadly weapon with extra inches.

Pastor Rod is the fundamentalist feudal prince of Ohio, the bestselling preacher who tipped the Buckeye state for Bush in 2004. His strategy? Warning the citizenry that they would all go gay if they didn’t beat back the homosexual agenda. Pastor Rod couldn’t legally endorse Bush, but he pushed Christian conservative voters to the polls.

This past August, I reported that Pastor Rod was raising cash for holy war — I mean, relief work — in Sudan by offering an actual 27-inch sword, in exchange for a gift of $54 or more. Now, Pastor Rod’s got a whole new sword to sell. And this one’s ten inches longer, with a blade of steel and a “gold-colored metal” handle inscribed with the cross. It’s the “SWORD OF THE KING,” promises Pastor Rod.

Just like the one Christ didn’t carry? Even better. This “beautifully crafted” blade, writes Rod, is a “replica” of King Arthur’s. As in Excaliber, the magic sword Merlin told him to pull out of a stone. Sound like kid’s stuff? No way. Who’s going to tell a man packing 37 awesome inches of hard steel that he’s lost in a fairy tale?

There’s more. Don’t worry about where to sheath your blade — in a special email solicitation, Pastor Rod writes that it comes with a “beautiful… mount.” And the best part of all? You get the whole package — magic sword, mount, delusions of potency — for only $41 dollars and ten cents, in honor of Isaiah 41:10 (“…yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”). That’s almost thirteen dollars less for ten more powerful inches of Christian manhood. And don’t forget the gold-colored metal.

You don’t even have to bother with those starving Africans, who’ve vanished from Pastor Rod’s advertisng. This come-on’s about you, and how you can turn 2006 into a “year of NO FEAR.” Send your money directly to Pastor Rod and get your new sword now. No one will ever kick sand in your face again!

–Jeff Sharlet

Earnest extra: This may be funny, but it’s no joke. Pastor Rod and his sword, unlike King Arthur, are real and, alas, potent. The “sword” of the New Testament was the word, not a big knife, but Pastor Rod’s mixture of faith, myth, and nationalism collapses the metaphors of scripture into worldly militance. As a rising star of the right, he’s not yet at the peak of his strength; but since 2004 his World Harvest Church has become an important proving ground for G.O.P. contenders, although Parsley calls himself neither Republican nor Democrat, but “Christocrat,” and openly declares himself a believer in theocracy. His bestselling book, Silent No More, is a furious rant against Islam, women, all things queer. His “Patriot Pastor” network of hundreds of church leaders organized for the 2006 election and beyond is one of Ohio’s strongest political machines. He’s an amazingly talented orator. And he’s telling his followers to “lock and load.”

Learn more: Breakthrough, Parsley’s TV program; The Center for Moral Clarity, Pastor Rod’s policy think tank; the invaluable Michelle Goldberg in Salon; Sarah Posner in The American ProspectAkron Beacon Journal, with video of an October rally with senators, congressmen, and Ohio gubenatorial frontrunner Kenneth Blackwell; Akron Beacon Journalon Parsley’s drive to register 400,000 black voters for the Christian Right; John Ashcroft with Rod this past December; fundamentalist opposition to Rod.