Rocklin’s Church of Destiny is reckless and careless. But we already knew that.
When California imposed strict restrictions on all indoor gatherings to slow the spread of a deadly virus, Destiny held services in contempt for months.
Last winter when Placer County short of beds available in intensive care unit and has seen COVID levels skyrocket, Destiny has knowingly exposed its worshipers and their neighbors to the spread of the virus by actively encouraging them to attend room services. In December, a former member of the congregation said six people tested positive after attending an in-person service at Destiny.
Destiny Pastor Greg Fairrington has proven to be a threat to Placer County by encouraging people to take action that defied state COVID-19 guidelines and exposed people to the coronavirus.
More recently, Fairrington has found a new way to abuse his role as religious leader in the community by telling his followers to support Governor Gavin Newsom’s recall, potentially jeopardizing Destiny’s tax-exempt status by testing the IRS regulations that restrict political campaigns inside churches.
“Are you afraid of Gavin Newsom?” My God, do your job as Christians on September 14 and vote ‘yes’ on recalling an immoral governor, âFairrington said, gesturing to a screen behind him that delivered the same message.
“Are we afraid of a vaccine, of liberal school boards, of racial social agendas (critical race theory), of an LGBTQ agenda?” ” He asked. âThe non-sexist, anti-American doctrine of radical groups like Black Lives Matter?
Whether he’s imbalanced or deliberately trying to draw attention to himself, Fairrington deserves his church’s tax-exempt status removed. The problem, however, is that his delusional preaching could harm other churches and religious institutions in the region.
âFate could possibly survive without the tax exemption, but the vast majority of religious institutions across the country would not,â said Reverend Alan Jones, pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento. . “He is entitled to his opinion, and I would support him firmly, but without being preached from the pulpit.”
Jones said he was taking the Johnson amendment, which very seriously prohibits churches from participating directly or indirectly in political campaigns for or against candidates. For example, when Congressman Ami Bera attended services in St. Mark’s, Jones told Bera that he was not authorized to promote his campaign. The same policy applies to any other politician or political candidate who attends services in Saint-Marc.
The word that comes to mind when Jones thinks of Destiny is “hubris”.
âDestiny is a very successful business, it has attracted thousands of people, but there is a danger in success that breeds arrogance,â Jones said. “It saddens me deeply that so many people are under the influence of a voice that does so much damage.”
Indeed, Destiny is a company, with A coffee, a gym, a nursery and primary school and a performing arts center. In June, the the town of Rocklin has partnered with Destiny for a fireworks display. By partnering with Destiny, Rocklin sent the message that the church’s anti-gay attitudes and unprincipled and unethical behavior are OK.
Jesus’ values ââof selflessness and compassion are not found in the ideas shared by leaders and members of Destiny – instead, they are aligned with fear, hate, extremism, and the alt-right.
In December, when protesters carrying Black Lives Matter and Pride flags showed up to protest Destiny’s blatant disregard for public health orders, members of the Proud Boys came forward to counter protest, defending the church. Identified by the FBI as an extremist group, the proud boys participated in white supremacy, neo-nazi Rally “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the insurrection of January 6 on the United States Capitol.
In January, during another demonstration outside Rocklin Church, a member of Destiny with a bible verse on the back of his shirt, urged a protester holding a âLOVEâ sign, decorated with LGBTQ Pride flags. The church member embarked on a homophobic rant before fleeing.
In a recent sermon, Fairrington released an excerpt from a YouTube video in which the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir sings a satirical song with the words “We Will Convert Your Children.” In response, Fairrington said, “It’s wrong, it’s vile.” Be careful, pastor, your blatant homophobia is visible.
What can that be called other than fear and demagoguery?
Under the Johnson Amendment, pastors and religious leaders are allowed to preach on social and moral issues. In St. Mark’s, Jones spoke often about social issues, including immigration and homelessness.
“I preach social justice from the pulpit a lot, but sometimes people confuse a moral position with a political position,” Jones said. âThere is a long and established tradition of social justice in our congregation. And there are other congregations in our city and county that you could say the same thing about. But we always stop before we approve a candidate.
In a July 18 sermon, Fairrington said church leaders should be forced to vote in favor of the recall because it is a moral issue – not a political issue – because Newsom is a governor “Immoral”. This is an ironic point, given that Fairrington’s own morals are deeply lacking.
Fairrington preaches hatred from his pulpit. He has proven himself to be a nasty tyrant who represents the worst of Rocklin and Placer County. If he insists on preaching politics, he should go down another path.
Hannah Holzer, a Placer County native and UC Davis graduate, is an opinion assistant at the Sacramento Bee.