Monday, March 28, 2005

 

The Russell Johnson/Ohio Restoration Project watch

Yesterday, James Dao of the New York Times named Russell Johnson, the pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church, as the principle organizer of the Ohio Restoration Project that aims to organize the radicals of the far-right of Ohio's Christians in a political jihad to elect Kenny Blackwell.

We are starting to do some checking of Johnson. For example, the following comes from a report from BBC World Affairs Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley from Dec 19, 2004. It gives a taste of Johnson's ambitions as well as some of his syncophants (including Lancaster Sheriff Dave Phelan, Fairfield County Municipal Court Judge David Trimmer and apparently some school officials).

Hawkins was seeking to get Johnson to answer the question, "Given that so many in Europe and the developing world are appalled at the policies of President Bush, how far would his supporters actually let him go?":
"You want an answer to that, come to my breakfast meeting tomorrow morning," said Pastor Johnson.

[. . . ]

The next morning, Pastor Johnson's breakfast meeting was a cross-section of the pillars of Lancaster society.

On his left was recently re-elected Sheriff Dave Phalen - on his right, Judge David Trimmer.

Among the others were school principals, businessmen and doctors, gathering in a strip-mall hotel on a gloomy winter's morning, all with Bibles on the table in front of them.

I threw out the question.

"The president has been sovereignly decided by God to lead this country," said Matt Roberts, a head teacher.

"If we could see abortion come to an end," said Sheriff Phalen. "If the Supreme Court could end this tragedy, I would be elated."

"Would you still support Bush if he wasn't a Christian?" I asked.

"No," came the answer from Pastor Johnson.

"Abraham Lincoln took his faith to office and lived it out by freeing black slave boys and girls all over America. I believe that is what Bush is doing by setting the captives of terrorism free."

It turns out that Pastor Johnson's church has caused something of an upset in Lancaster.

In short, it is seen as too extreme, with Pastor Johnson pushing to get into government politicians who, he says, have a Biblical view of the world.
Max Blumenthal also has information he received from a broadcast email sent out apparently in mid March by Tony Perkins of the far right Family Research Council:
Today I joined Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and former Ohio Congressman Bob McEwen as we spoke to about 70 key members of the clergy. We reflected back upon America's godly heritage and the key role that pastors played in this nation. The meeting, which was hosted by Pastor Rod Parsley at World Harvest Church, was organized by Pastor Russell Johnson of Lancaster.

Many of these pastors were instrumental in working with the president of Ohio's Citizens for Community Values, Phil Burress, in passing Ohio's marriage amendment over tremendous obstacles foes of marriage placed in their way. This was the first of a series of meetings designed to enlist hundreds of members of the clergy as "Patriot Pastors" to further organize the Church in Ohio for social engagement. What I see happening across the country with pastors is unprecedented - pastors and their flocks are not going back to life as usual after the election. Christians are committed to the battle not only for the heart and souls of people but for the heart and soul of this nation. [emphasis added]
These guys are girding for a serious values-oriented campaign, and the democrats better start getting prepared or they will face considerable pressure for a lesser-of-evils alternative that is liable to hand the election to Blackwell.

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