Archive for the ‘The Response’ Category

End-Timers Keep ‘The Response’ Going

January 17, 2012

The far-right hate group American Family Association and other well-known religious right organizations and leaders put together Rick Perry’s big prayer rally in Houston last August. But Perry’s presidential campaign is sinking fast, and Sarah Posner writes in Religion Dispatches that follow-up “The Response” events in Republican presidential primary states are being promoted by somewhat lesser-known groups like the International House of Prayer and its affiliated local churches. Today’s “The Response” event in South Carolina, for example, is being promoted by small churches like the Forerunner House of Prayer (FHOP) in Easley, South Carolina, and the the Greenville House of Prayer.

These IHOP churches attract followers who believe, among other things, that the end times are near. Writes Posner:

These self-anointed “intercessors,” or “end-times warriors,” see themselves as modern-day apostles and prophets, purifying the kingdom, “transforming” cities, regions, and the country through a new Great Awakening, preparing the world for Christ’s return.

Posner explores the theological divide between these “end-time warriors” and the old guard of the religious right:

(T)he national elites had pressed for and endorsed The Response. At last summer’s event, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called it “the highlight of my life” and praised the “next generation” of evangelicals. The old guard of the religious right isn’t blind to new religious movements in its midst, even the 24/7 prayer movement [FHOP founder] Tallulah Dalton has been swept into. Some conservatives actually consider it heretical, or unbiblical—suggesting that these self-anointed apostles and prophets are the “false prophets” the Bible warns of. (One of these critics, the blogger/activist Marsha West, says The Response participants associated with the New Apostolic Reformation are not Christians, but rather “counterfeits.”)

Read all of Posner’s fascinating piece here.

Pray According to GOP Primary Schedule?

January 11, 2012

Rick Perry’s presidential campaign is stumbling, but the folks behind his prayer extravaganza in a Houston football stadium last August seem to be marching on. An email from organizers of The Response today invites folks to a South Carolina prayer rally on January 17 — just four days before that state’s Republican presidential primary.

In fact, The Response organizers have planned all of their post-Houston events for early Republican presidential caucus and primary states. One was in Iowa on December 6, less than a month before that state’s party caucuses. A January 24 Florida rally is scheduled a week before that state’s presidential primaries. And organizers are planning an event in Arizona for February — Republicans go to the polls there on February 28.

Organizers haven’t set specific dates for events in the March GOP primary and caucus states of Washington, Tennessee, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio. Those are all listed as “pending.” Perhaps they think the Republican nomination will be settled by then.

You will recall that the Houston rally came just a week before Gov. Perry formally announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Yet here is what we see posted on The Response website:

“In August 2011, The Response gathered 40,000 people in Houston, TX as well as 100,000 unique sites that joined via simulcast to respond to the trumpet call to prayer. Though Governor Rick Perry initiated The Response in Houston, these upcoming state-wide gatherings will not be affiliated with any particular presidential candidates. The Response is committed to prayer above politics, to seeing the church moved to stand for righteousness and to pray for God’s mercy for America.”

“Committed to prayer above politics.” Yeah, sure. We must have missed the obscure Bible verse that instructs us to pray according to the Republican presidential primary schedule.

About That Nonpolitical Prayer Rally, Ctd.

August 24, 2011

The American Family Association isn’t the only one playing fast and loose with election law in their almost-but-not-really-endorsement of Gov. Rick Perry. The American Renewal Project — part of a shadowy network of state-based organizations, including the Texas Restoration Project, that supported conservative candidates in previous election cycles — does them one better.

Check out the email sent by the founder of the American Renewal Project on Saturday, August 13 — just hours after Perry formally declared his candidacy for President:

American Renewal Project (more…)

About That Nonpolitical Prayer Rally

August 23, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry ignited a firestorm with his controversial and erroneous comments about the teaching of creationism in Texas public schools while he campaigned for Republican primary votes in New Hampshire last week. But while most of the press focused on Perry’s remarks, far less attention was paid to the actions of the American Family Association and how it basically confirmed our suspicions about the real intent of Gov. Perry’s Aug. 6 prayer and fasting rally.

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Our Day at The Response

August 8, 2011

After months of anticipation, protests, failed litigation, a constant guessing game about who — and how many — would be on stage and in the stands, Gov. Rick Perry’s and the American Family Association’s purportedly nonpolitical prayer and fasting rally, The Response, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium came and went on Saturday.

TFN was there, not to protest or anything of the like. We were there to observe and spent the day inside and outside the stadium.

While politics were for the most part left off the stage, the event was not completely devoid of politicking. What follows is a brief recap of our day at The Response and what we took away from the day of prayer and some fasting (there were some very long lines at stadium concession stands throughout the day).

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Rick Scarborough Rides Again

August 5, 2011

We haven’t heard from the president of the far-right, Texas-based group Vision America for a long time. But today Pastor Rick Scarborough sent out an email blast blaming the nation’s debt on immorality and promoting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Saturday prayer rally in Houston as a step toward solving the problem:

“Billions of dollars are required every year to assist in paying for the lack of responsible behavior in our nation, whether it is in fighting various sexually transmitted diseases, welfare, various assistance programs for those in poverty, etc. I lay the blame at the feet of both the politicians and the preachers, for their unwillingness to address the moral disintegration of our nation. Add to these indisputable facts that our courts have declared war on God. Seldom has a day passed in recent years that someone, somewhere, does not file a lawsuit seeking to ban any mention of the God who gave us our freedoms from the public square. Tragically, few if any, even among Christians, truly fight to end this madness.

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10,000+ Sign Open Letter to Gov. Perry

August 4, 2011

The Texas Freedom Network just sent out the following press release.

THOUSANDS SEND MESSAGE TO GOV. PERRY: STOP USING FAITH AS A POLITICAL WEAPON TO DIVIDE AMERICANS

More Than 10,000 Sign Open Letter Calling on Governor to Respect All Faiths and  End His Office’s Association with a Hate Group

The Texas Freedom Network today sent Gov. Rick Perry an open letter signed by more than 10,000 Texans and others who are concerned that the governor’s prayer rally in Houston this weekend is more about promoting his political career than faith.

“Gov. Perry leads a diverse state in which not everyone shares the same religious and political beliefs,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “It’s simply wrong that he would share a stage with extremists who use faith as a political weapon to divide Americans instead of working to unite us in support of our nation.”

The governor asked the American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a hate group, to organize The Response at Reliant Stadium on Saturday. Other organizers and endorsers have a history of using incendiary anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Some have called Oprah Winfrey a precursor to the Antichrist and the Statue of Liberty a “demonic idol.” Another endorser, former congressional candidate Stephen Broden of Dallas, last year suggested that violent revolution might be justified if the 2010 elections didn’t bring the changes he wanted.

The open letter calls on Gov. Perry to make the Houston event “open to speakers and attendees of all faiths, as well as welcoming to people of good will who are not affiliated with a faith tradition.” It also urges him to respect the diverse beliefs of all Texans by ending the association between his office and the American Family Association.

The open letter and signatures are available here. As of 9 a.m. today, the letter included 10,410 signatures.

Gov. Perry has a long history of using faith as a political tool. The year before his 2006 re-election campaign, for example, he and his supporters in the Texas Restoration Project hosted thousands of conservative evangelical pastors and their spouses at “briefings” that promoted the governor and his policies. Lodging and food for attendees were covered by Perry campaign donors whose identities were not made public at the time. Speculation is growing that Gov. Perry will run for the Republican presidential nomination next year.

Gov. Perry Left at the Altar

August 3, 2011

RSVPs just aren’t what they used to be. And for Gov. Rick Perry, that might mean he’ll be left at the altar (pun absolutely intended) this Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

The latest word out of Kansas is that its governor, Sam Brownback, may not be coming to Texas for Gov. Rick Perry’s prayer and fasting rally at Reliant, after earlier telling Perry “That sounds awesome! I’m totally there!”

OK, so that last quote was completely made up. Here’s how the Topeka Capital-Journal reported it back in June when The Response was first announced:

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, Brownback’s spokeswoman, said the governor will pay his own expenses to attend the event.

But now, according to the Houston Chronicle, Brownback’s appearance is “not a sure shot.” Here’s what Gov. Brownback’s office is saying now:

The governor is on vacation and it will be at his discretion and expense if he goes.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of what has become an increasingly controversial event, largely because of the extremists helping organize The Response.

So if Gov. Brownback does in fact drop out as it appears he is trying to do, that will mean the total number of governors at The Response will be (forgive me if I’m wrong, I’ve never been good at math) one. Just one: Gov. Perry, who sent RSVP requests to the nation’s other 49 governors and got back perhaps none. And given that it’s still unclear what role Gov. Perry will play at the event, his recent comments attempting to distance himself from the extremists organizing it, and comments he made about same-sex marriage that didn’t sit well with those same extremists, we’re not willing just yet to put any money on Gov. Perry making it to his own event.

This event is starting to look like a textbook example of buyer’s remorse. Some of the big players, probably anxious about the cynical use of faith for political purposes, are already looking for the exits, and the doors to Reliant Stadium haven’t even opened yet.

The Responders

July 31, 2011

The last few weeks have been full of news as we saw the extremism turned up to 11 by the supporters of Gov. Rick Perry’s and the American Family Association’s planned prayer and fasting rally Aug. 6 in Houston.

So to give everyone a better picture of the wide range of extremism that is set to meet under the Reliant Stadium roof, and with only one week to go, here’s a round up of what we thus far know about some of the people endorsing and organizing the purportedly apolitical event, The Response.

We’ll update this info and repost if more names are added to the list of organizers or endorses of Gov. Perry’s event.

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7,500 and Counting: Sign the Open Letter

July 30, 2011

Our open letter calling on Texas Gov. Rick Perry to stop using faith as a political weapon to divide Americans now has more than 7,500 signatures. One news report indicates just 8,000 people have registered to attend the Christians-only event Gov. Perry has asked a far-right hate group, the American Family Association, to organize for him next weekend in Houston.

We’re sending our letter to Gov. Perry next week. So click here to sign on if you haven’t already.

Appalling Arrogance

July 29, 2011

Need any more evidence that Gov. Rick Perry’s August 6 prayer event in Houston really isn’t intended to unite Americans in support of our nation? Dave Welch of the far-right Texas Pastor Council sent out a militant email on Monday insisting that the event be for Christians only. Welch dishonestly characterizes the alternative as a “polytheistic approach and … interfaith event that requires Christians to squelch the mention of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

If that isn’t incendiary enough, Welch also defends the governor’s decision to ask a hate group, the American Family Association, to organize the event.

And if you don’t agree with Welch? Well, then this is what he thinks of you:

“The bottom line is that the only winners if Christians don’t pack out Reliant Stadium on August 6 will be enemies of Christ; those who espouse the liberal and unconstitutional view of separation of God and government and their allies.”

The real bottom line is that the religious right is not just willing to use faith as a divisive political weapon. Its leaders also have no problem attacking the faith of anyone who disagrees with them.

Perry’s Ties: ‘Beyond the Fringe’

July 27, 2011

The excerpt (below) from a piece about Texas Gov. Rick Perry in yesterday’s Deseret News (Salt Lake City) appears dead-on to us. The writer quotes Shaun Casey, a professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary. Casey is also an expert on the role of religion in presidential politics. He comments about Gov. Perry’s courting of the religious right:

“Perry is a cheaper imitation of George Bush … and I think Perry has really studied Bush. But Bush’s brilliance with the religious right was that he did everything behind closed doors. There were no photo-ops, there were no press releases saying I met reverend so and so today. Bush did everything through intermediaries, and so there was no public trail of him reaching out to the religious right. The irony is that here comes along Perry, the dollar-general-store version of Bush, and here he is meeting with these people in public and you start looking at the line up of the people he’s cozying up to in public and all he is doing is setting himself up for trouble later on if by some miracle he actually wins the nomination … Some of these guys are really beyond the fringe — folks who George Bush would have never been caught dead with within a hundred miles of.”

TFN Insider has reported about some of the extremists helping Gov. Perry organize his Christians-only prayer event in Houston next month. See here and here. Then sign an open letter calling on Gov. Perry to end his association with a hate group and stop using faith as a political weapon to divide Americans.

Honeymoon Is Over

July 25, 2011

Late last week Gov. Perry sent some not-so-subtle signals to the American Family Association (AFA) — his partner in the upcoming prayer-rally “The Response” — that he’s not ready to commit just yet, intimating that he might not be willing to speak at the much-criticized event. Then in another surprise, the governor decided to go on the record over the weekend with his opinion that  the New York law allowing gay marriage is just fine with him, since he’s a big state’s rights supporter:

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

But isn’t that another slap in the face to his gay-hating buddies at the AFA? Yep.

“Gov. Perry himself is unapologetic in his support for natural marriage. We appreciate that he signed a symbolic measure to protect marriage in the Texas constitution. But perhaps he missed an opportunity here for him to stress the importance of natural marriage and the negative consequences for children when same-sex marriages are legitimized.”

That’s AFA’s director of issue analysis Bryan Fischer in an interview today with the Texas Independent. Fischer went on to reiterate AFA’s call for a federal marriage amendment that would effectively override any decision by individual states in this matter.

I wonder if both parties in this political marriage are starting to have second thoughts.

Rick Perry’s Non-Denial

July 25, 2011

“Oh, no you don’t. Get back here, Gov. Perry!” is what might have crossed the minds of the folks at the American Family Association and other extremists who have endorsed the governor’s prayer rally, The Response, when they read some of his comments in a Dallas Morning News story last week.

For the first time — and it took him a while — Gov. Perry has begun to inch away from the extremist views of the people he agreed to share a stage with at his August 6 event in Houston.

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Perry Having Second Thoughts?

July 21, 2011

CNN is reporting that Gov. Rick Perry may not speak at the Christians-only prayer rally in Houston next month — the event he initiated.

Wait a minute. What?

The story speculates that criticism over the event — and its loony sponsors and speakers — might be getting to the presidential candidate governor. Maybe. It’s possible he is in the midst of a religious conversion that is making him respectful of religious pluralism and tolerance.

But it’s also possible that the governor is having a good, old fashioned political conversion, perhaps because at last report only 6,000 people have registered for the event (which will be held in the 71,000 seat Reliant Stadium) and 48 governors have said “no thank you” to his invitation to attend.

In any case, we’re pleased that Governor Perry is reconsidering his participation in this divisive event. And we should keep the pressure on. If you haven’t already, sign TFN’s open letter to the governor here.