Jeff Gannon Spreads the Word

A website announces the U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, which took place between 29 April and 3 May:

You are invited to join the thousands of believers who will come to the West Front of the U. S. Capitol to read the entire Bible aloud and without commentary for 90 continuous hours.

…Many of the Bible Reading Marathons have been held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer observances around our nation, which take place on the first Thursday of May.

…God’s Word and prayer are the real solutions to our nation’s problems. This can only be accomplished by reading all the Bible because God has magnified His Word above His Name [Psalms 138:2].

…Rev. Michael Hall, Pastor of The Peoples’ Church and Executive Director, International Bible Reading Association: “I believe God is using this vision singularly to call this nation back to the simplicity of God’s Holy Word, the Bible.

Alas, however, a diary piece in the Washington Post suggests that the marathon did not do too well:

Organizers put out 600 folding chairs on the lawn — the spot where presidents are inaugurated — and set up a huge stage with powerful amplifiers. But at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, not one of the 600 seats was occupied. By 11 a.m., as a woman read a passage from Revelations, attendance had grown — to four people. Finally, at 1 p.m., 37 of the 600 seats were occupied, though many of those people were tourists eating lunch.

The article also has a bit of fun with one of the event organisers:

“This isn’t that kind of event,” explained Jeff Gannon, spokesman for the host, the International Bible Reading Association. Gannon, actually a pseudonym for James Guckert, had earned fame in 2005 representing a conservative Web site at White House briefings until it was revealed that he posted nude pictures of himself on the Web to offer his services as a $200-an-hour gay escort.

One of those who exposed Gannon was, of course, World O’Crap’s SZ, whose entries on the subject also chart Gannon’s turn to religion:

His posts at his site “”…seem to have disappeared, but Susan and her readers found an archived copy of his “Who is Conservative Guy?” bio — and it seems to indicate that “Jeff” can’t hold a job:

I’ve been a preppie, a yuppie, blue-collar, green-collar and white-collar. I’ve served in the military, graduated from college, taught in the public school system, was a union truck driver, a management consultant, a fitness instructor and an entrepreneur. I’m a two-holiday Christian and I usually vote Republican because they most often support conservative positions

However, once his escort sideline came to light, Gannon explained that in fact he was more than just a “two-holiday Christian”, and he suggested that he was therefore the victim of religious persecution:

I’m everything people on the Left seem to despise. I’m a man who is white, politically conservative, a gun-owner, an SUV driver and I’ve voted for Republicans. I’m pro-American, pro-military, pro-democracy, pro-capitalism, pro-free speech, anti-tax and anti-big government. Most importantly, I’m a Christian. Not only by birth, but by rebirth through the blood of Jesus Christ.

And indeed, Gannon’s association with the yearly Bible marathon, and its director Michael Hall, predates the scandal. Ancapistan has some pictures from 2004, and notes that

Upper photo is Michael Hall, pastor of the People’s Church located on Barracks Row in Washington D.C., in Guckert’s neighborhood. JD Guckert is a regular member of the congregation. According to Hall, JD was at his house when the news broke of JD’s porn websites.

JD also read at the 2005 DC Bible Marathon, but this year he elected to read late at night.

Meanwhile, the website of the International Bible Reading Association has further details about the marathon (bold red bits in original):

Dr. John A. Hash, Founder of Bible Pathway Ministries, burdened by growing biblical illiteracy throughout America, was impressed to take action. He was convinced that the godless spirit that envelops the world is deeply rooted in its lack of knowledge of the Bible, our Creator’s Guide on how He expects us to live, in order to accomplish His purpose for our existence. Dr. Hash realized that the giant task of bringing about an awakening to the importance of reading the Bible would require the entire Body of Christ — working together.

The International Bible Reading Association was established under the Co-Chair of Dr. John A. Hash and the late Dr. Bill Bright and the presidency of Richard Dingman of the Free Congress Foundation — and a global movement was under way. The response was overwhelming as world leaders began to network in an unprecedented way. Much has been accomplished in a short time. The goal was to proclaim 1990s~Decade of Bible Reading and enlist ONE BILLION PEOPLE to read all the Bible.

This was in 1989, and the effects were, it is hinted, dramatic:

Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and Co-Chairman of the IBRA…presented a challenge to the Russian people on nationwide Soviet television to read all the Bible. He held up before them and read from the Presidential Proclamation signed by George Bush declaring 1990~International Year of Bible Reading. This is the first and only Proclamation in the history of the United States urging people to “read all the Bible.” Dr. Bright then challenged Russian leaders to also issue a similar proclamation for their nation.

Pastor Michael Hall explained the rationale to OneNewsNow:

“We stand on Isaiah 55:11, where we believe God’s Word is going forth across the nation,” says Hall. “It’s a spectacular place to read; we’re reading right at the seat of the nation’s power. And we believe God’s Word transforms anyone who listens to it. We invite people to come and read, to come and listen, to come and pray.”

Faith and Action has further details:

Rev. Rob Schenck opened this year’s event following a two-hour prayer service on the West Lawn of the U. S. Capitol that featured clergy from several Christian traditions including Faith and Action Chairman Rev. Paul Schenck, Rev. Michael Hall, Pastor of The Peoples’ Church and Executive Director of the International Bible Reading Association, former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt and Father Jay Longacre. The ministers consecrated the area from which the Bible would be read with anointing and prayer.

Rev. Rob Schenck read selections from James H. Hutson’s “The Founders on Religion” that included the writings and prayers of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush and others…Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt spoke of the persecution of Christians in America, including his own discharge from the U. S. Navy for offering prayers in the name of Jesus Christ…

(I blogged Klingenschmitt here)

However, despite nearly two decades of such events, the results so far look rather unimpressive. Randall Balmer (following Stephen Prothero) noted last year that

Many high school seniors believe that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife, while a majority of Americans cannot name one of the four Gospels. Jay Leno asked his Tonight Show audience one night to name one of Jesus’ twelve apostles; they came up empty. One in ten Americans believes that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, and only one-third knows that Jesus (not Billy Graham) preached the Sermon on the Mount. One of the most frequently quoted passages from the Bible—“God helps those who help themselves”—actually appears nowhere in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament.

And let’s not forget this guy:

Those who’ve missed Gannon’s pensées since his Talon News went under might like to know that he has a blog. Funnily, he doesn’t seem to like gay people very much.

(Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

One Response

  1. Sweet, it seems that the Gannon’s, Klingenschmitts and others of the unseemly right gather together, try to get the media to see them and then have almost no one show up. What a rotton bunch masquerading as Christians. No wonder they had so few people who would want to associate with them?

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