This article was published originally in the November-Decemter 2005 issue of the
The Columbus Free Press. Following this article, in a separate blog , is the membership of the Ohio Reformation board as announced at the launch. That is followed in separate blogs by transcripts of each speakers comments in order of appearance.
In April when I wrote "An Evening with Rod Parsley" for the Free Press, I noted that guest speaker former UN ambassador and presidential candidate Alan Keyes hinted to an audience of several thousand at Parsley's World Harvest Church that Ohio, with Parsley's guidance, would soon be an experiment, inspiration and model for Christian Nationalists throughout the country. Unfortunately, that section of my article was cut due to space considerations. (The whole piece can be found below along with transcripts from the event. Keyes' hints have now been made flesh with Parsley's new socio-political redemption project, Reformation Ohio.
Launched from the south steps of the Statehouse on October 14 before a crowd of about 1000, Reformation Ohio is touted by Parsley as a bold 4-year plan for Ohio's spiritual, moral, and political redemption, authored by God, envisioned through Parsley, and operated by his hand-picked crew of activists, ministries, politicians, and private businesses. It will be funded by an initial donation of $10 million from RO's controversial mega ministry partner Impact World Tours/Youth With a Mission reportedly making RO the largest evangelical effort in any state in US history.
Officially, Reformation Ohio will stage a four-pronged program: present the Gospel to one million Ohioans resulting in at least 100,000 saves for Jesus; serve the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized Ohioans "of character;" and to register 400,000 new voters who supposedly out of gratitude, reciprocity, or disposition will pull the Christian Nationalist line and help break secular power within the state. From the slick youth-manipulating propaganda – bladers, extreme sports, "culturally appropriate music and art" – shown on the Jumbotron at the rally, it is clear that despite the "spiritual" garnish the real meat isn't spiritual but political. "Ohio is the pivotal state in the heart of America" the narrator of the promo informs. "A swing state whose tilts and leanings determine the course of our nation." Reformation Ohio is meant to tilt Ohio into the Biblical American camp, especially for the 2008 election.
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, greeted as a hero for his opposition to abortion and same sex marriage, agrees. Speaking towards the end of the rally, the gubernatorial hopeful preached, "We understand that it is time to stand up, time to speak up, time to pay up, and we refuse to give up or back up or shut up."
Reformation Ohio and Rod Parsley, who calls himself a non-partisan Christocrat, were braced and embraced at the launch by prominent Republicans. Ohio Rep. Linda Reidelbach (R-21), a member of RO's board and reportedly on Blackwell's short list for Lt. Governor, presented Parsley with a commendation from the Ohio House in appreciation of spiritual revival. Ohio Sen. Jim Jordan (R-12) oddly referred to his university town, Madison, WI as "Communistville" and could barely contain his enthusiasm for Parsley's Biblical "David Attitude" towards contemporary immorality. Longtime Parsley pal Cong. Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones (R-NC) claimed that never as today has there been such an assault from the "extreme left" on American Christian-Judaic values. Finally, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KN), who endorsed Blackwell for governor the day of the rally, and seemed to be on a pre-presidential fishng trip, gave a short sermon comparing Parsley to British anti-slavery reformer William Wilberforce.
ADDENDA: On October 21, Mark Anderson, international director of Impact World Tours denied that his organization was donating $10 million to Reformation Ohio. Anderson told the Dispatch that he wouldn't mind giving $10 million if he had it, but the orgaization doesn't. He said that Impact World Tours is committed only to having volunteers pay their own way to make appearances and speak at Reformation Ohio events over the next four years. He "guestimated" that $10 million might be the cost of putting on all the events in state that Reformation Ohio plans. At the same time, Rod Parsley declined to disclose sources of funding or the amount received, saying the Reformation Ohio board hadn't yet decided on a disclosure policy.
Information on YRAM partnerships is here. Mark Anderson
The Apologetics Index has information on Impact World Tours/YRAM's own questionable activities.