Anti-Gay "Demon Buster" Seeks Fla. City Council Seat
At first glance, Kimberly Daniels’ story reads like an inspiring "rags to riches" tale. The Democrat seeking an at-large seat on the Jacksonville City Council is a former drug dealer and sex worker. She eventually joined the military and became an author and ministry leader who travels the world to speak before audiences.
Scratch just beneath the surface, however, Daniels’ opinions on slavery, abortion, LGBT equality and even Halloween become abundantly clear. As the founder of the evangelical Spoken Word Ministries, Daniels is a self-described "demon buster" who is proud of her deliverance or exorcism-oriented ministry. She has even claimed to "convert" witches, gay and lesbian people, the "mentally deranged" and atheists.
"You can talk about the Holocaust, but the Jews own everything," claimed Daniels in a video Truth Wins Out released last week. She also thanked God for slavery in another sermon caught on tape.
"I thank God for slavery... If it wasn’t for slavery, I might be somewhere in Africa worshipping a tree," said Daniels.
Media outlets picked up the video, and Daniels told the Jacksonville Action News that the Holocaust comment was something she "meant to be positive." She also reiterated her dismissal of slavery.
"I love America and it worked out for my good," said Daniels. "Slavery was bad, but if slavery would not have happened I wouldn’t be living in the greatest country in the land."
Her campaign staff responded to the controversy in an e-mail that went out to a mailing list that Daniels claims has 40,000 subscribers. "A group of homosexuals are launching a hate campaign against Apostle Kim," read the e-mail. "A note was placed on her door saying ’N***** get out of the race of [sic] else!’ This group is demanding that she get out of the race... pray!!!"
Daniels’ campaign also attracted the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center-certified hate group the New Black Panthers, which accused Truth Wins Out of threatening the candidate. And the New Black Panthers threatened TWO in return.
"If any harm comes her way, or any other black people, we will definitely respond and the consequences will be severe," the group said in a sparsely attended press conference on April 22.
TWO co-founder Wayne Besen criticized Daniels’ conflation of the racist note with his organization as "disgusting" and called on her to apologize. He fears her message may further instigate "unstable" individuals into action.
"This attack goes to show how unfit [Daniels] is for public office," Besen told EDGE.
Nevertheless, Besen said his organization is continuing to dig into Daniels’ history with the hopes of further informing Jacksonville voters of her socially conservative views and ties to the "Seven Mountains" evangelical movement. Besen said the movement’s other prominent members-including Lou Engle, Cindy Jacobs and Bishop Harry Jackson-are trying to institute a new theocracy in the United States and around the world. He described the group as "a cult, not a religion."
"I think this is much bigger than one city council race in Florida. This has everything to do with the highest level of the anti-gay movement in the world," added Besen. "[Daniels]’ whole plan for victory was clearly to ignore the media and create as little attention as possible while bringing out the church to vote. It’s important for us to go in there and make sure people know who she is and I think we’ve been effective in doing that."
The Rev. Irene Monroe, coordinator of the African American roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion, identified Daniels as a prominent figure in "the new Black Christian Religious Right" movement that includes Jackson, who led the opposition to marriage equality in the District of Columbia.
"She is the new, changing face perpetuating that type of vitriol because someone like Bishop Jackson and the garden variety of black ministers have said it to the point where it no longer has cultural currency," said Monroe, who is also a columnist who opines about religious issues. "[Daniels] serves as an attention-grabber."
Monroe further criticized Daniels for contributing to the bullying and homophobia that discourages many African Americans from taking preventative measures against HIV/AIDS, particularly black women.
"Regardless of political opinions, the Bible makes it clear: Those who support the homosexual agenda and the murder of unborn babies will be judged," wrote Daniels in a column Charisma Magazine published in Nov. 2008 about why she did not support President Obama’s campaign. "How can we vote for politicians who favor these ungodly movements? The Bible says we must separate ourselves from sin and wickedness."
Daniels stated in a 2009 blog that Halloween candy has been "blessed over by witches" and she implored other people of faith to not celebrate the "demonic holiday."
"This kind of rhetoric needs a new face," added Monroe. "You can say this kind of rhetoric is quite comical but the point is that she has tapped into a fear factor, particularly in smaller communities like Jacksonville which are very conservatively religious."
Leslie Watson Malachi, director of the progressive group People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, criticized Daniels’ campaign. "We are disheartened by the advancement of a candidate who has instead chosen to be a voice of fear and intolerance," she said. "The people of Jacksonville deserve better."
Despite this outcry, other LGBT groups have remained silent. Neither Equality Florida nor the state’s Stonewall Democrats chapter responded to EDGE’s repeated requests for comment.
Daniels received 43 percent of the popular vote, just five percentage points shy of her Republican challenger David Taylor, in the March 15 election. The runoff vote is scheduled for May 17.