Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
This week in Iowa, The Family Leader headed by Bob Vander Plaats hosted an anti-gay marriage rally at the Capital in Des Moines. There was a cavalcade of right-wing stars – including defrocked Alabama Justice Roy Moore – barking their case against equality for all. Today, I would like to focus not on the man in charge, Bob Vander Plaats, as I often do. Instead it is anti-gay marriage pastor Cary Gordon of Sioux City, Iowa who gave a fiery speech at the Family Leader’s rally that gets today’s post.
Pastor Gordon has had an active year. With his role in the ouster of three Iowa Supreme Court justices in launching church politicking scheme Project Jeremiah, his current role in the Family Leader’s “LUV Iowa” (Let Us Vote) campaign to put an anti-gay marriage amendment in the Iowa Constitution, and his $11.99 million church slated for a Sheriff’s sale on May 3rd – well, the pastor has his hands full.
A little background on Gordon and Project Jeremiah from my article at AlterNet:
In early September, Iowa’s Cornerstone World Outreach Church circulated a letter to hundreds of Iowa clergy urging them to join a crusade to oust three Iowa Supreme Court judges. The targeted judges are three of the seven who ruled unanimously in 2009 that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, legalizing gay marriage in the state. The remaining four aren’t up for retention votes in this election cycle. Project Jeremiah 2010, launched by Cornerstone’s Rev. Cary Gordon as a pulpit electioneering campaign, calls on clergy to tell their congregations to vote “no” in the upcoming judicial retention vote.
The clergy letter wastes no time likening “secular fundamentalists” (the ACLU, Americans United, the unchurched masses) to Hitler: “Secular fundamentalists in the United States know the same thing that Hitler knew. The only thing that stands in their way of the total takeover of our American culture, the final removal of any mention of God from the public arena, and the shredding of the last remains of our Judeo-Christian value system, is the church of Jesus Christ.” I contacted Gordon via email to see if we could talk about Project Jeremiah. He replied with a press release and a directive to use it as an interview. In the release he quotes Camille Paglia, references John Locke and an Iowa anti-sodomy law from 1857 as the reason the Iowa Constitution could not produce the “canard of ‘gay marriage.”
Looking back at Pastor Gordon’s pulpit politicking and “Project Jeremiah” it is helpful to read the letter Gordon circulated to reportedly over 1000 pastors. Here are a few page 1 highlights, followed by the letter itself:
Click to read the whole letter at The Iowa Independent
As a result of Pastor Gordon and Cornerstone’s initiative to ouster the justices in Iowa, Americans United filed a complaint with the IRS.
There has been no new news from AU regarding this complaint, however in the Sioux City Journal report that the church goes on the chopping block, Project Jeremiah is highlighted as a liability:
PROJECT JEREMIAH CITED AS LOAN THREAT
According to a draft of an affidavit of Daniels obtained by the Journal, church officials were warned before the Nov. 2 General Election that Project Jeremiah, Cornerstone’s highly publicized effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices, could compromise the church’s ability to secure a loan. Project Jeremiah was Gordon’s call for ministers across Iowa to instruct their congregations to vote former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices Michael Streit and David Baker out of office in their retention elections. The three were part of a 2009 unanimous ruling that Iowa’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. All three did lose their seats in the election. Daniels’ draft affidavit also includes text of an e-mail urging church officials to issue a retraction and warned that an unnamed state agency had asked the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to investigate the church as a result of Project Jeremiah. Daniels and Gordon both said Cornerstone never considered issuing a retraction or shutting down Project Jeremiah, which involved Gordon sending letters to, according to him, 1,000 other ministers.
Cornerstone has neglected to pay a Ohio contractor for work completed in 2008:
The builder filed a $4.99 million mechanic’s lien on the church’s property in April amid allegations it was not paid for work it did on the worship center. Cornerstone dedicated and has used the 52,000-square-foot building since August 2008.
I know it’s a crappy economy and we all have our financial woes (oy! do I!) but a church with highly valuable non-profit (501c3) status not paying a huge debt on an incredibly high value piece of property?
And, for further information on what Pastor Gordon and The Family Leader is all about, take in this video from this week’s rally:
14:00 into his speech, Gordon maintains that unless Iowans “protect the virtue of true Americanism from our own mental barbarians who attack our minds with the God-hating secularism of Europe,” like the Roman Empire “we too will be extinguished from the earth.”