Bethel Church Worship Pastor Brian Johnson Takes Heat After Comparing Planned Parenthood to KKK; Senior Pastor Bill Johnson Defends Son, Then Asks Forgiveness for Remarks

Worship Pastor Brian Johnson / Senior Pastor Bill Johnson
Worship Pastor Brian Johnson / Senior Pastor Bill Johnson

Brian Johnson, worship pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, CA, is taking heat for an Instagram post in which he said Planned Parenthood is worse than the KKK.

The viral image he shared is from the pro-life Radiance Foundation. Paired with a noose, it reads: “We kill more black lives in 2 weeks than the KKK lynched in a century… Planned Parenthood. Eugenics. No matter what.”

Brian Johnson, the son of senior pastor Bill Johnson, deleted the post (which received nearly 1,000 likes) after his comments section blew up with angry responses. Then, he deleted his Instagram account.

Bustle writer Ayana Lage claims that, in private, Brian Johnson has said (presumably of blacks), “Many of them live with a victim mentality and that is difficult to handle when you’re trying to work with them.”

Senior Pastor Bill Johnson came to his son’s defense, re-sharing the controversial image, and writing: “My son got roasted for posting this. So I thought I’d try. By the way, the creator of this meme is black and was conceived in rape. He is found at Radiance.com [sic]. Some thought my son was saying the KKK was okay. Really? The KKK is horrible, in the same vain [sic] as Planned Parenthood. THINK!”

Kris Vallotton, the Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church, jumped in to defend Brian Johnson as well by noting that Brian and his wife Jenn “just adopted a black baby and named him Moses! He and Jenn have an intense love for African Americans.” Vallotton continued his comment, writing, “The KKK example makes perfect sense…. Bill and Beni, Brian and Jenn are passionate about honoring the black community and making sure that nobody kills them in the nae of family planning. They aren’t just talking about it, they are adopting black babies and helping to fix the problem. They have gained the right to speak about this issue because [they] are taking action.”

However, black members of Bethel Church were not in agreement. One commented on Pastor Bill Johnson post writing, “As a member of the black community at Bethel Church, I have to say that this is grossly insensitive. Make your point, but not at others’ expense. It’s easy to repost a comment like this one when you feel disconnected from its context.”

Another black member noted, “You shouldn’t create posts such as these… You open the doors for racists to troll us.”

Another black commenter said, “Look at it in the natural and be sensitive enough to understand why this would be considered offensive. I’m actually hurt that you would repost it. Comparing the intentional, barbaric act of a hate group toward an innocent member of someone’s family that would have been targeted simply because of the color of their skin to an act/decision by a person based on their own personal life decisions are two different things that are not to be compared. [Tear emoji]. I thought more of you Pastor Bill.”

To that last commenter, Pastor Bill Johnson replied, “And I thought more of you.” (Wow.)

UPDATE: Just an hour ago (around 5:45 PM Saturday, July 14th, Pastor Bill Johnson posted the following statement on Instagram asking for forgiveness for his post.

A few days ago I reposted a meme created by a very courageous black man, Ryan Bomberger of the @radiancefoundation. He was conceived when his mother was raped. She made the challenging decision to not have an abortion. His story is worth telling.

However, when I shared his story it brought unbelievable pain to people I really care about. I always do my best to honor and serve them, and this grieves me deeply. It was not my intention. As you can imagine we have received a lot of feedback about this and I am grateful. Please forgive me. Our black community is one of our greatest treasures as they continually make us better.

In his meme Ryan drew a comparison between the KKK, who murdered many blacks simply because of their race, and Planned Parenthood, the primary provider of abortions. If comparing evil with evil were so we could decide which is the better of the two, this would be a horrific illustration, unreasonable in every way. Both are appalling. There is no lesser. I and everyone I know is rightfully outraged at the KKK; embarrassed that it is a part of American history. Anyone who reacts to me, or the meme because they think it’s an effort to lessen our disgust towards this disaster is rightfully angered. The KKK caused unimaginable pain and destruction to some of our nations greatest.

But the intent of the meme was quite different, whether or not you agree with the method. The hangings of the KKK were public — an unforgettable act of hatred, evil, and cruelty at the highest possible level — targeting blacks. Abortion is done behind closed doors — targeting the unborn, including a great number of blacks. Perhaps if the pain and the torture of abortions were broadcast on reality TV the public would find it as disgusting as the KKK. And that was and is the point.

–Joshua James