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