Five Points About Rick Perry's Prayer Rally Not Yet in Mainstream Press
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 11:48:44 AM EST
Texas Governor Rick Perry closed his prayer rally on Saturday stating, "This is a day that people are going to discuss for years to come."   Perry may have been talking about his own political aspirations, but I think his words may be prophetic in this case.  We may have just seen the national debut of a new phase of political activism by the Religious Right that is the culmination of decades of planning.  Following are five significant points about the rally that have not yet made it into mainstream press.
1. Significance of the 50-State "Prayer Warrior" Communication Networks

An analysis in the Washington Post read, "... organizing a prayer gathering in your home state isn't the same thing as winning votes in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina."  This article does not take into account the NAR's 50-state network of "prayer warriors." (NAR stands for New Apostolic Reformation.)  At the moment there are three different national networks under the authority of Dutch Sheets, Cindy Jacobs, and John Benefiel.  Both of the last two endorsed Perry's event.  

There are well developed networks in Iowa and South Carolina, headed by Katherine Watsey and Frank Seignious, respectively.  If "anointed" by the apostles as the candidate, Perry will automatically have a structure in place in these states in addition to his own campaign operation.  I think that anointing may have taken place  on Saturday.

2. Coded But Blatant Political Messaging

The political messages were blatant but "for the choir" only.  Perry walked out onto the stage and gave his speech with C. L. Jackson and Apostle Alice Patterson by his side.  There's a big story here.  

C.L. Jackson is a prominent African American pastor and was a leading Houston Democrat.  He publicly announced his embrace of the Republican Party at a 2002 Texas State Republican convention after seeing racial "reconciliation" activities (developed by NAR leaders) at the prayer meeting prior to the event.  Since then he has worked to promote Perry to African American pastors with the aid of David Barton's revisionist histories that portray liberal Democrats as racist and conservative evangelicals as the champions of civil rights. (I'm not as familiar with Iowa, but in South Carolina there is a very aggressive campaign promoting this revisionist history to African Americans.)

Apostle Alice Patterson writes about this in detail in her 2010 book Bridging the Racial and Political Divide, the book that is the source of her quote about the "demonic structure behind the Democratic Party."  Note that former head of the Texas Republican Party, Susan Weddington, is the Vice President and Director of Apostle Patterson's Justice at the Gate ministry. David Barton is the former vice-chair of the Texas Republican Party.

While the Tea Party is being described as racist, the NAR is developing a "rainbow religious right."  The front row at Perry's event looked like the U.N.  It was most certainly staged, considering the rest of the audience, but it was effective.

3. Changing Public Tone Toward Jews

John Hagee spoke, but Apostle Don Finto, former senior pastor of Belmont Church in Nashville, delivered the prayer for Israel.  This is huge.

Finto is one of the most revered figures among the apostles and is at the center of an international network of support for Messianic Jews and missions to proselytize Jews in Israel and worldwide.  They make Jews for Jesus look like amateurs. Finto wrote the manual for how Christian Zionists should befriend Jews and ingratiate themselves in Jewish communities.  This book has been distributed through the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, the largest international Christian Zionist event in the world.
Finto openly prayed for conversion of Jews of the world in order to bring about Jesus' return.  He then invited Messianic Rabbi Marty Waldman to join him at the microphone.  

What this says to me is that the Religious Right thinks they can win with a multi-racial evangelical coalition of their own and to hell with Jews - quite literally.  Or they figure that right-wing Jews and Israel single-issue voters are so besotted with Christian Zionists that they won't notice or care about this shift in tone.

4. Mike Bickle's Leading Role

Another shocker was that Mike Bickle led part of the event.  The event organizers came from Mike Bickle's youth-oriented International House of Prayer (IHOP) and Lou Engle's The Call, based at IHOP Kansas City.  After Lou Engle, Bickle is one of the most controversial figures in the movement and source of the "Oprah as forerunner of the anti-Christ" statement that made the news.  However, Bickle is a toxic figure in much of the evangelical world.  He was the leader of the "Kansas City Prophets" in the 1980 and 1990s and was at the center of a very divisive dispute in Charismatic evangelicalism.

5. The Event Was Not Representative of all Conservative Evangelicals

Continuing the point about Mike Bickle, this event did not represent all conservative evangelicals.  Although the big name family values guys - James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Donald Wildmon, and others - have been joining forces with the apostles for several years, this partnership is very controversial. The apostles plans to revamp Protestantism, eradicate denominations, their radical end times theology, and boisterous Charismatic manifestations are feared, and rightfully so, by many fundamentalists and evangelicals.

This event was a organized and led - from the prayer leaders and messaging to the band - by the NAR.  It was a duplicate of The Call events that have been held around the country.    


My guess is Perry is gambling that the combined network of the major "family values" organizations and the  apostles 50-state communications and mobilization structure can make the difference in the early stages of the primaries.  The NAR has remained under the radar of the mainstream press for years despite their direct involvement with Sarah Palin, Hawaiian gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona, and Sam Brownback, among others.

The event on Saturday was a bold, in-your-face slap at the separation of church and state, and signals a new phase in the activism of the Religious Right.  Regardless of Perry's political aspirations, I fear this was a day that will indeed be remembered for years to come.

Fred Clarkson and I were at a meeting hosted by the Columbia Journalism Review years ago where we concluded that political writers do not write knowledgeably about religion and religion writers do not write knowledgeably about politics. Same old same old.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 12:12:52 PM EST
The consensus seems to be that there was no problem since there were no overt references to politics and the speakers didn't say anything really shocking.

On a bright note, Forrest Wilder is scheduled to be on the Rachel Maddow Show tonight.  He was there at the event and he understands the significance of what was taking place.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 03:42:54 PM EST

last night and can't find anything online about Mr. Wilder being on the show. Can anyone provide a link?

by monarchmom on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:03:50 AM EST
He should be on later this week.  I'll post a comment when I know the date.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 12:42:44 PM EST

See Forrest Wilder's article on the shallow coverage of the Rick Perry event. dias-shallow-coverage-of-the-response

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