This story is getting legs. In March, Mother Jones magazine dug up some anti-Muslim rants of Rev. Rod Parsley, an Ohio-based evangelical minister and rising Christian Right star who campaigned with John McCain at a time when Mike Huckabee was still working hard for evangelical votes. Though McCain and Parsley don’t appear to have much of a history together, McCain did praise Parsley as a “spiritual guide.”
Mother Jones writer David Corn didn’t have to dig very hard to unearth Parsley’s vehemently anti-Muslim rhetoric–he merely had to open the cover of Parsley’s 2005 book Silent No More:
There are some, of course, who will say that the violence I cite is the exception and not the rule. I beg to differ. I will counter, respectfully, that what some call “extremists” are instead mainstream believers who are drawing from the well at the very heart of Islam.
Of course, Mother Jones is a bastion of leftwing journalism. Good Morning America is not. The show led with the McCain/Parsley story this morning. Here’s an excerpt from the web version (includes Parsley video):
Despite his call for the U.S. to win the “hearts and minds of the Islamic world,” Sen. John McCain recruited the support of an evangelical minister who describes Islam as “anti-Christ” and Mohammed as “the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil.”
McCain sought the support of Pastor Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, Ohio at a critical time in his campaign in February, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was continuing to draw substantial support from the Christian right.
At a campaign appearance in Cincinnati, McCain introduced Parsley as “one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide.”
“Islam is an anti-Christ religion that intends through violence to conquer the world,” Parsley says on the DVDs reviewed by ABC News.
“America was founded with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed,” Parsley says, “and I believe Sept. 11, 2001 was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.”
Parsley’s views and his connection to the McCain campaign are now beginning to show up on Arab Web sites and newspapers.
Al Moheet, a regional Arabic Web site operating in Egypt, carries the story with a picture of McCain and the headline: “McCain’s Spiritual Adviser Calls for the Destruction of Islam.”
….In a statement to ABC News about Parsley’s comments, McCain’s campaign said the senator “obviously strongly rejects such statements.” The campaign did not answer the question of whether it was aware of Parsley’s widely publicized statements prior to seeking his endorsement in February.
McCain doesn’t have many good options at this point. He could more fully denounce Parsley, but that would likely inspire more antogonism from the Christian Right, and he’s already inspired way too much of that.
He could keep quiet, but the story may continue it’s rise through the media-blog complex till McCain is forced to cut ties with Parsley, in which event he looks like he’s operating out of political expedience rather than principle (some said that about Barack Obama’s Wright denouncement).
Either way, God-o-Meter suspects that all the flack McCain’s caught over two of his big Christian Right endorsers this cycle–Parsley and John Hagee–is only reinforcing his longtime uneasiness with the movement. Don’t expect a lot of high profile endorsement events with other evangelical heavies in coming months.