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Good riddance to Landmark Baptist's former pastor

My boss, Mike Konrad, tipped me off that there was a for-sale sign in front of Landmark Baptist Church, in Brooksville's Candlelight Plaza.

When he tuned his radio to 102.7, the channel of Landmark's radio station, WKJO-FM, he got only dead air.

Do you think, he asked me, that Landmark pastor Mike Frazier has left town?

Your question might be: Why should we care?

Well, because Frazier seemed to be everywhere during the 2004 election, hosting a right-wing radio show and backing several local candidates who were members of his church or attended it.

They included County Commission candidate Luke Frazier, who ran on a platform of governing by the word of the Bible and doing away with impact fees, and Landmark youth minister Adam Frazier, who ran for School Board.

Both were later accused of sex crimes. The charges against Luke Frazier, who is not related to the pastor, were dropped. Prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge against Adam Frazier, Mike Frazier's son, to spare the 15-year-old accuser the trauma of testifying.

"You stand here today as one of the biggest hypocrites,'' Circuit Judge Jack Springstead told Adam Frazier during his 2004 sentencing for lewd and lascivious behavior.

Recounting the legal troubles of Mike Frazier's followers probably wouldn't be fair if he didn't exhibit a good amount of hypocrisy himself.

During a County Commission meeting in 2004, Frazier and a group of his parishioners stood up and chanted "terrorist, terrorist'' at Commissioners Diane Rowden and Nancy Robinson. Their offense: attending a Muslim advocacy organization's presentation aimed at explaining that terrorists had twisted the beliefs of what has never been a hateful religion.

Most of us would say the same about Christianity, though you might not have guessed it from listening to Mike Frazier's radio shows.

He made unsubstantiated accusations that the advocacy group, as well as local doctors who contributed to it, were supporters of terrorism.

Shortly before the death of then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Frazier advocated shooting down his helicopter and referred to him as "old faggot face … with his little stinkin' lizard face.''

Hernando voters, to their credit, never elected any of Frazier's candidates. But to me, he's worth remembering as the worst local example of a particularly ugly period in our country's history.

It was like McCarthyism, or what I've read of it. The catch-all charge of "terrorist'' replaced "communist,'' but the atmosphere of political bullying was the same. Muslims were slandered; so was just about anyone who expressed tolerance for them.

The inauguration of President Obama hopefully signals the final end to this era. Locally, I found out, it's been gone even longer. As is sometimes true with editors' tips, this one turned out to be a little stale.

Though WKJO's suffered a temporary technical glitch (it was up and running again Thursday afternoon), the church was sold in December, said former pastor Chip Gripton, Mike Frazier's son-in-law.

He took over when Frazier left town two years ago. Members of the congregation long ago put Frazier's political activism behind them, he said, and asked that I do the same.

Fine, but not before I say good riddance.

Good riddance to Landmark Baptist's former pastor 01/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 5:28pm]
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