September 18, 2006
Pastor Rod Parsley
World Harvest Church
4595 Gender Road
Canal Winchester, Ohio 43110
Dear Pastor Parsley,
Several Christian Clergy who are members of We Believe Ohio received your invitation to meet at Mt. Sinai Ministries in Cleveland on September 19. Your letter outlined your hope to explore how the resources of World Harvest Church, the Center for Moral Clarity, the World Harvest Church Ministerial Fellowship, and Reformation Ohio might be used to help area churches "win Ohio for Christ."
As members of We Believe Ohio, an interfaith group of religious leaders from across the state, we are concerned about your tactics of manipulating religion for political gain. Faith should inform public policy, but our Constitution does not permit the establishment of any one religion over another. Your wish to “win the state for Jesus Christ” may be shared by many. However, your repeated use of this kind of language in the political arena is exclusionary and crosses the line separating religious and governmental institutions, which has allowed religion to flourish in our state and nation.
We believe the most effective way to promote and protect all Ohioans is to lift our state’s diverse faith voices in support of the common good. Our faith calls us to build a state that includes and celebrates all Ohioans, affirms their dignity and protects their rights. Our faith calls us to build an Ohio in which children and adults no longer fall into poverty and lose their health care and housing. Our faith calls us to build an Ohio in which people earn a living wage to support their families. Our faith calls us to ensure that all children receive a quality education. Our faith calls us to invest in our neglected inner cities and rural areas. Our faith calls us to bring these moral issues into the public arena.
Religion should not be used to divide and exclude, it should unite and include. In your book Silent No More, you wrote of one of our faith traditions, “America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed.” Therefore, we can only assume that when you implore us to “win the state for Christ” you mean that the faiths and traditions of those who are not Christian in Ohio must lose, or even be destroyed. The implications of your perspective are frightening for Ohio.
As brothers and sisters in faith, we call upon you to end your divisive tactics that violate the American tradition of religious tolerance. End your campaign of manipulating religion for political gain, and end your rhetoric that separates Ohioans from one another. Some of the We Believe clergy who you invited to Tuesday’s meeting at Mt. Sinai Ministries plan to attend. We invite you, in the reconciling spirit of the God who loves us all, to join with us in building a united Ohio—an Ohio in which all of God’s people are accorded the dignity, well being and freedom that our faiths and our Constitution demand.
We Believe Ohio –
Northern Ohio Clergy Leadership
Imam Abbas Ahmad, First Cleveland Mosque
Rabbi Richard A. Block, The Temple-Tifereth Israel
Rev. Daniel Budd, The First Unitarian Church of Cleveland
Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Chautauqua Institution
Rev. Felix Carrion, Euclid Avenue United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Kenneth W. Chalker, First United Methodist Church
Rev. George T. Hrbeck, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry
Rev. Dr. John Lentz, Jr., Forest Hills Presbyterian Church
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle, Antioch Baptist Church
Rabbi Howard H. Ruben, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple
Kuldeep Singh, Sikh Youth Federation
Rev. Georgiana Thornton, St. Paul AME Church