Update (06/15/2020;7:26 PM): After this report was published, pastor Rod Parsley uploaded a new statement to his YouTube channel addressed to “the entire Black community.” Parsley stated that he could admit his mistakes that “hurt, disappoint, or confuse” those that he loves and is called to serve. He described slavery as a “blight on our nation and the world” and an “egregious, heinous, despicable sin that grieves my heart and the heart of God.” Parsley went on to say that he would “never attempt to defend the indefensible atrocities inflicted upon people of color by our founders and generations after them,” however Parsley did not apologize for his prior controversial message in the two-minute video. The original article appears below.
Rod Parsley, a prosperity preacher and Pentecostal pastor popular among African-American Christians, has recently been accused of “minimizing” the racism of America’s Founding Fathers in a message meant to inspire unity.
Black gospel artist Ted Winn II shared a video of one of Parsley’s recent messages on racism on June 14 on his Facebook page.
“Share this!!!! In this video, Rod Parlsey [sic] sterilizes and minimizes racists. He falsely claims, all the framers of the country freed their slaves. Jefferson did not! They were racists! The history of America should not be forgotten because that history informs the present,” Winn wrote on his personal Facebook page.
“I am so exhausted listening to white evangelicals defend, support and perpetuate white supremacy. The ways in which they masquerade racism as Christianity is disgusting! This video should come as no surprise as Rod Parsley, and many other white evangelicals are avid Trump supporters. If you support a racist then you are either racist or complicit,” Winn added.
The award-winning recording artist suggested that Black people should not support Parsley, who is White, “or anybody else who is not clearly anti-racist and working to deconstruct systemic racism!”
Parsley, who leads World Harvest Church in Winchester, Ohio, and a ministry under his own name, addressed the police killing of George Floyd in a May 31 message.
Based on media published to Parsley’s Facebook page and rodparsley.com, the prosperity preacher spoke again on racism in the following weeks.
In the message titled “A Time to Speak: Race in America” and dated June 12, Parsley said racism was not a political issue belonging to the left or right, but that it ultimately came down to a “heart issue.”
After prefacing his remarks as reflecting “the heart of God,” the megachurch pastor asked his audience to “be done with bitterness” and eventually turned to the subject of America’s Founding Fathers.
“We live in a great land,” he said. “It was founded by people just like you, flawed people. But those framers framed the liberties that everyone of us enjoy today. If you hate America, please give me your alternative.”
In his defense of the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, Parsley made the false claim that they all freed their slaves either in their lifetimes or after their deaths. “Of the over 600 people Jefferson owned, he formally freed only seven,” according to official website for the Monticello plantation the former president owned.
Although Parsley is not alone in portraying racist slaveowners like Jefferson as “flawed,” he seemed to compare the nation’s initial formal and codified position on white supremacy as a “birth defect.”
African-American Christians did not appreciate Parsley’s remarks.
“Racism was NOT this nation’s ‘birth defect;’ racism IS this country’s chief, most vicious, and most egregious sin. It is the deliberate and systemic subjugation of all non-whites that extends beyond mere bias and preferential treatment,” Clarksville, Tennessee, pastor Terrence Chandler-Harrison tweeted at the @RealRodParsley account.
“And no, we can’t move on because the toxic tentacles of racism are still far-reaching. Racism STILL impacts: funding, housing, education, zoning, legislation, representation, distribution, and policing—just ask your black and brown members,” Chandler-Harrison added. “And for the record: we DID have ‘an alternative;’ it’s called Africa, but we were robbed of that too.”
The Liberty Church pastor suggested that Parsley take less time asking Black ministry supporters to “sow sacrificial seeds” and “spend more time listening (and) learning from their learned experiences.”
“Rod Parsley’s latest message was historically inaccurate, insensitive, and patronizing. When you know better, as he does, you should do better,” tweeted Dr. Yolanda Pierce, dean of the Howard University School of Divinity.
Armour Stephenson III, pastor of City of Truth Church in Kansas City, Missouri, tweeted: “Rod Parsley compared the or(i)ginal sin of America to parents giving birth to a deformed child!? Sick! This country was built to function the way it is — those parents didn’t conspire pre-sexual intercourse to conceive (and) give birth to a baby with special needs!”
In that sermon to his congregation, he “denounced racism and white supremacy as demonically-inspired and blamed the church for being one of its breeding grounds.”
In those remarks, Parsley revealed that he has been called the “n-word-loving pastor” in public for embracing Black people. In addition, Faithfully Magazine reported:
“The Ohio pastor also attempted to show how racism has been a part of America’s history from the beginning, and cited how the founding fathers allowed enslaved Blacks to be sold openly in the marketplace and how Christians participated in slavery. Parsley also briefly noted how Christians demonized Native Americans. He insisted that being trapped by the past impedes possibilities for the future.”
Parsley founded World Harvest Church in 1977 as a Bible study with 17 people and now, “more than 12,000 people in central Ohio will tell you World Harvest is their church home,” according to its website. The megachurch pastor, once called a “raging prophet of prosperity,” has been likened to Paula White-Cain, head of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board and special advisor to the White House’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Both Parsley and White-Cain teach prosperity messages that suggest giving financially to their ministries will result in earning God’s favor.
Faithfully Magazine’s attempts to contact Parsley’s church for comment on June 15 were unsuccessful.
The referenced video and a transcript of Parsley’s remarks are shown below.
Transcript of pastor Rod Parsley’s remarks in the “Silent No More” video:
“I want to speak to every brother and sister that I have. My Black brothers and sisters, my Asian brothers and sisters, my Arab brothers and sisters, my Hispanic brothers and sisters, and even my White brothers and sisters. Hear the heart of God.
“Please be done with bitterness. Please put away hate. We live in a great land. Let me shout it before you respond to me. It was founded by people just like you, flawed people. But those framers framed the liberties that everyone of us enjoy today.
“If you hate America, please give me your alternative. Don’t hate our founders. That’s a lie. Don’t discard their legacy. Well, they had slaves. Every one of them freed their slaves, either during their life or upon their death. And we fought a civil war. Our nation has been washed in the blood of the bloodiest war ever fought to secure that we can stand here today and speak out against the curse, maybe I could call it the birth defect of America.
“Oh, there’s the [unintelligible] family. They’ve got about 19 children living in their home, most of which were born with a birth defect. Shall we throw them away and say they have no value? Shall we throw America away? Should we throw the idea of America away, because it’s still not perfect? Or should we stand up and fight to make it a more perfect union?
“Let’s stand up together. Hand in hand, arm in arm and let’s build a nation better than the one our framers could even envision. We need you. We love you. We need you to be rooted in the rich, rich soil from which our republic sprang.
“Remember these words from Winston Churchill, will you: if we open a conflict between the past and the present, we will lose the future.
“We have to dream bigger. We have to believe stronger. And as for me and my house, this is the time to stand tall in all the beauty of who we are and hold tightly to the wisdom of our fathers. To dream their dreams of a righteous America and become that generation where Black men say to White men, White men say to Asian men, Asian men say to Hispanic men: let’s join hands together and under God let’s be silent no more. Let’s restore America.”