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March 19, 2007

White House disputes pastor's claim he was "special envoy"

Posted by David Postman at 3:19 PM

If, like me, you're a regular reader of the Stranger's blog, you've no doubt read "Notes on the Prayer Warrior." Those Eli Sanders' posts of pastor Ken Hutcherson's e-mail messages to his supporters and parishioners. They include request that people pray for Hutcherson to fly safe, or get over being sick, or to help him through a media interview.

I see that Sanders and I reacted the same way to the most recent Prayer Warrior missive: We decided it needed to be fact-checked. And at least part of it seems to be untrue. Sanders quotes from a March 16 e-mail from Hutcherson where the pastor claimed:

I was honored to receive a commission by the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives as a Special Envoy in the following areas: Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief, which allowed me to meet with the Latvian government.

That is untrue according to the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Sanders talked to the same person I did and he's already posted about it here. Spokeswoman Alyssa McClenning told me by e-mail:

"The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives did not commission Pastor Hutcherson as a Special Envoy to Latvia."

Sanders has response from Hutcherson, too.

I just spoke to Pastor Ken Hutcherson. He tells me that White House spokeswoman Alyssa J. McLenning is wrong, that he does have the title he claimed, and that it comes from a "partnership" he's established with Jay Hein, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

"You need to talk to Jay Hein," Hutcherson told me. "He's the one that I've been talking to and the one that we are partnered with."

Hutcherson claims to have met with Hein at least twice in person about this partnership, once a few months ago in Seattle, and once last month at the White House. I asked Hutcherson what the title and the partnership mean in terms of his work in Latvia. He replied:

"In my meetings, I can represent as being with them [the White House] and having the power I need to get things done."

(UPDATE: Hutcherson just called me back. He is adamant that he has a "commission" and a "partnership" with the White House. He said he will have Hein back him up.

"I told Jay he has to talk to you."

He says he also has a video of his visit to D.C. where it's clear he has some special backing from the White House.

"You're to see that's the proof and I don't appreciate people me out a liar. You'll be able to listen to it and you can decide how much power I had when I went over there.")

Hutcherson initially made the claim March 6. His note that day said:

March 6, 2007

Dear Prayer Warrior,

Thank you for praying. What a blessing in answered prayer!

I just received the Special Commission from Faith Based regarding Family Values, Adoption, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief. The head of Faith Based is contacting people in the State Department to follow up on the Ambassadorship.

Receiving a Special Commission is a HUGE answer to prayer. Thank you for your continued prayers,

Pastor Hutch

The special commission was important to Hutcherson because he has been spending time in Latvia fighting what he says is U.S. funding of pro-gay groups in the Eastern European country. To see how he got connected in Latvia read this Seattle Times story. There are big fights brewing in Latvia, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, about gay rights.

Hutcherson's March 9 e-mail gave an update on one trip:

Dear Prayer Warrior,

Praise for 4 extraordinary meetings today! God is doing incredible things through me in Latvia!


Everyone received their luggage but me. They need to find my luggage and return it to me!

I will be having a difficult meeting with Ambassador ... I just found out that our Embassy in Latvia has been supporting gay groups monetarily to come into this country.

Continue to pray for strength and stamina.

Your Pastor, Hutch

During his trips to Latvia, Hutcherson has been the guest of the conservative New Generation Church. The church has reported on Hutcherson's visits, including this on a recent visit:

'I came to you representing the White House', continued Hutcherson. 'In my country, people will know how Latvia responded to antichristian statements. We need to stand for righteousness not only morally, but also physically and financially. It's a great battle for righteousness and no one can stop it. I promise to stand with you'.

Was he representing the White House?

No, McClenning said.

Hutcherson had an interesting travel partner. He was with Scott Lively, president of the California-based Abiding Truth Ministries. He is also the co-author of a pamphlet titled, "The Pink Swastika." Here's the premise, from Lively's introduction: He says homosexual "are the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities."

His co-author wrote that the "authors contend that homosexualism, elevated to a popular ideology and combined with black occult forces, not only gave birth to Nazi imperialism but also led to the Holocaust itself."

And they say America could easily now follow the same path.

McClenning was quite clear that Hutcherson does not represent the White House or the Bush Administration in any way. Hutcherson and his Latvian colleagues did met with Jay Hein, the director of the faith-based office. The New Generation website reported the meeting this way:

That is the very purpose we are here -- to protect democratic freedoms and not to allow religious discrimination, said Jay Hein, FBCI Director at the White House, -- and we will do whatever possible to protect believers' rights in your nation.

The faith activist organization FBCI was founded January 29, 2001, by the US President George Bush for the purpose of protecting general and traditional Christian values in the society. The institution is under the President's direct control.

Concluding the meeting, Mr. Jay Hein allowed the Latvian guests a rare opportunity to have a walk down the Western wing of the White House and even take photographs.

The faith-based initiative is not, of course, just for Christian values. The New Generation report reads like a poor translation of a meeting. Whatever the case,
McClenning downplayed any significance to the fact that Hutcherson had a meeting:

"Members of the office meet with faith community and nonprofit leaders on a regular basis.

"It's the nature of the office."

NOTE: I changed the headline on this post. It was originally headlined "Erroneous notes from the Prayer Warrior." On second thought I found it too snarky.

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