Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is being touted as a late but promising entry into the GOP presidential field, a candidate capable of emerging as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.
In the meantime, however, Perry is focusing his energy on organizing an all-day festival of Christian prayer and fasting on Aug. 6 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, called The Response. The intent of the rally is “to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.”
“We want the presence, power, and person of Christ to fill our nation and turn the hearts of millions to righteousness, peace, and joy in Him,” Perry and other organizers tell us. “We want the blessing and favor of a Holy God who loves righteousness and wants to see righteousness exalt a nation in our generation. We want to see real change across our nation that only our God can perform.”
I have no problem with any of that, although I do confess to some uneasiness with its sponsorship by a major political figure.
More troubling, however, is the list of religious leaders who have joined Perry as official sponsors or “endorsers” of the rally.
For example, one of Perry’s partners in sponsoring the rally is the American Family Association, led by Donald Wildmon and the AFA’s “director of issues analysis”, Bryan Fischer. Among other things, Fischer has expressed a rather unique point of view on the dangers posed by letting gay Americans serve in the military.
“Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews,” Fischer writes. “Gays in the military is an experiment that has been tried and found disastrously and tragically wanting.”
(The AFA is also engaged in a campaign to boycott Atlanta-based Home Depot for “taking sides in the homosexual culture war” and sponsoring “open displays of homosexual activism on main streets in America’s towns.” As Jim Galloway of the AJC points out, that may be one reason why Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal has turned down Perry’s invitation to attend the rally).
Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, is touted prominently as one of the national endorsers of Perry’s event. Bickle preaches an apocalyptic Christianity that foretells the pending rise of Harlot Babylon, a false and Satan-inspired religion.
“I believe that one of the main pastors of the Harlot movement — it’s not the Harlot movement yet — is Oprah,” Bickle preaches (see at 22:40 here). “She is winsome, she is kind, she is reasonable. She is utterly deceived,” and an unwitting agent of Satan.
And then there’s John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network in Oklahoma City. He has what you might call an odd take on the Statue of Liberty.
“You know where we got it from? French Freemasons. Listen, folks, that is an idol, a demonic idol, right there in the middle of New York Harbor.”
RightwingWatch.org has put together an interesting video starring Fischer and a few others whom Perry has embraced as national endorsers.
These religious leaders of course have every right to preach such beliefs, just as Perry has every right to welcome them to his event and give them a prominent role. I wish only the best for their prayer rally.
On the other hand, their fellow Americans also have every right to question how such such beliefs might be translated into government policy by top public officials, should they be given the opportunity to do so.
– Jay Bookman