This past week, Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright has come under heavy fire in part over comments that suggested the U.S. government had introduced AIDS into black communities.
But it turns out he's not the only religious confidant to a presidential candidate who thinks the state has targeted black populations with death and disease.
Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, Ohio -- whom Sen. John McCain hails as a spiritual adviser -- has suggested on several occasions that the U.S. government was complicit in facilitating black genocide.
In speeches that have gone largely unnoticed, Parsley (who is white) compares Planned Parenthood, the reproductive care and family planning group, to the Klu Klux Klan and Nazis, and describes the American government as enablers of murder for supporting the organization.
"If I were call for the sterilization or the elimination of an entire segment of society, I'd be labeled a racists or a murderer, or at very best a Nazi," says Parsley. "That every single year, millions of our tax dollars are funding a national organization built upon that very goal -- their target: African Americans. That's right, the death toll: nearly fifteen hundred African Americans a day. The shocking truth of black genocide."
He goes on.
"Right now our own government is allowing organizations like Planned Parenthood to legally take the innocent lives of precious baby girls and baby boys and even footing the bill for it all with our tax dollars, turning every single one of us into accessories to murder," he says. "You know who their biggest fans must be, that must be the Klu Klux Klan, because the woman who founded this organization detested black people.... African Americans were number one on Margaret Sanger's list. So this 'Lady MacDeath,' as I like to call her, studied the works of Englishman Thomas Robert Malthus, and embraced his plan of eugenics."
Unlike Wright's statements, Parsley's are more accepted in conservative circles, in which a strict anti-abortion sentiment is not only tolerated, but applauded. Moreover, as a white pastor expressing anger on behalf of black populations, Parsley's testimony may come off as more sympathetic and less conspiratorial than Wright's.
However, there are issues with Parsley's stats. While black populations in America do have higher abortion rates than white populations, there are far more abortions among white mothers than among blacks. Meanwhile, Sanger, who founded the American Birth Control League (which eventually became Planned Parenthood), was an advocate of both birth control and eugenics. And while she did not publicly denounce Nazi Germany's eugenics program, privately she expressed deep concern.
This is the second time that controversial remarks by Parsley have surfaced on the campaign trail. Last week, David Corn of Mother Jones reported that the televangelist "called upon Christians to wage a 'war' against the 'false religion' of Islam with the aim of destroying it."
The relationship between Parsley and McCain is, to be sure, far less personal -- and more political -- than that of Obama and Wright. In late February, McCain attended a rally in Cincinnati, in which the Arizona Republican was praised as a "strong, true, consistent conservative."
The endorsement, Corn writes:
... was important for McCain, who at the time was trying to put an end to the lingering challenge from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite among Christian evangelicals. A politically influential figure in Ohio, Parsley could also play a key role in McCain's effort to win this bellwether state in the general election. McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide.'