Texas Governor Rick Perry's "Prayerpalooza" event tomorrow–The Response mired in controversy
On August 5, 2011 At 10:34 am
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As we previously reported, Governor Rick Perry has been planning a prayer event called "The Response" which will occur tomorrow. Although he will be attending as a "private citizen," he invited governors from all 50 states to attend, and Bryan Fischer with the American Family Association is also planning to be there, but only as "a worshiper praying in the stadium," according to the Texas Tribune.
Some of the controversy stems around child indoctrination. As we previously reported in an article on July 6, Perry has tied himself with Christian dominionists indoctrinating children in 7 Mountains theology:
Aside from snubbing Constitutional law in order to promote religion and aside from the gathering of extremist, dominionist leaders and endorsers of the government-sponsored The Response, there appears to be another problem with Perry's prayer event: A link with the radical side of child indoctrination.
Indoctrinating Children into 7 Mountains Theology, Radical Christianity and End Times Belief.
The International House of Prayer – Kansas City (IHOP-KC) is prominently featured in Perry's prayer website and is a "spiritual warfare" center in Missouri where evangelical Christians gather for 24/7 prayer, 365 days a year.
Like Jim Garlow and others listed as Perry's "leaders" on the Response prayer rally website, IHOP-KC is aligned with Seven Mountains Christian theology, which holds a theocratic belief that 7 areas of culture, called mountains or spheres, must be dominated by Christians to prepare a kingdom for Jesus Christ to return to rule. This type of theology seeks to rid society and government of secularism or alternate faiths. IHOP-KC's "intercessory missionaries" openly state that their goal is to "impact the seven spheres of society—family, education, government, economy, arts, media, and religion."
Another of IHOP-KC's goals is to convert as many children as possible.
Aides say Perry got the idea for the prayer rally back in December, long before he began seriously mulling (at least publicly) a run for national office. More recently, Perry asked the American Family Association, known for its anti-gay crusades — including a boycott against Home Depot — to sponsor the event. AFA is picking up the tab for The Response, including the rental of Reliant Stadium in Houston, home to the NFL's Houston Texans. Organizers say it’s going to cost a little more than $1 million.
“It probably sounded like a good idea at the time,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. “He should have gotten more mainstream religious leaders involved. He’s got more than a small sampling of kooks.”
One of the endorsers of the event, for example, has gone after Oprah Winfrey. Mike Bickle, founder and director of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, says in a YouTube video that she is a precursor to the “Harlot Babylon” movement that he says will bring on the Antichrist at the end of this world. Winfrey, he says, is “a charming woman but has a spirit of deception, and she is one of the clear pastors, forerunners to the Harlot movement.”
Mother Jones provided an in-depth investigation into the organizers of "The Response" with some rather interesting beliefs–the organizers of the event believe everything from the government is microchipping everybody for mind control to the dead birds dropping out of the sky being God's punishment for repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, to Hitler was gay and that being gay is great for population control, and even a lot of belief in eugenics on the part of Bryan Fischer–that Muslims have been subject to centuries of inbreeding:
In interviews, the event's planners have conceded that non-Christians will not be allowed on stage, and that the event—which Perry says is open to everyone—is intended in part to convert people to Christianity.
Although Perry and his defenders say he's the victim of guilt by association ("Just because you endorse me doesn't mean I endorse everything that you say or do," he told the Dallas Morning-News) they're missing a key point: By tasking these groups with running the event, Perry endorsed them.
So what exactly do Perry's allies believes? Here's a quick primer:
9/11: According to the Rev. Doug Stringer, one of the leaders of the Texas Apostolic Prayer Network, the September 11th attacks were God's punishment for immoral behavior like homosexuality:
IF YOU’RE SAYING GOD’S NOT PRESENT SO JUDGMENT COMES, THEN THE ANSWER IS YES. BUT THE BIBLE SAYS SIN PRODUCES DEATH. IT WAS OUR CHOICE TO ASK GOD NOT TO BE IN OUR EVERY DAY LIVES AND NOT TO BE PRESENT IN OUR LAND. THIS IS NOT AN ACT OF JUDGMENT, IT’S A WAKE-UP CALL. GOD IS LONGING TO BE IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE AGAIN.
(The ALL CAPS are Stringer's.) California pastor Jim Garlow, a member of The Response's leadership team, has suggested that legalizing gay marriage would be similar to 9/11—because it, too, would destroy families:
Our president gave a speech a few days ago in which he said, 'The tragedy of 9/11 was that it robbed so many children of having a mommy or a daddy.' Well, you know something Mr. President, your failure to defend marriage and to redefine marriage means that everybody who is under that redefined marriage will lack either a mommy or a daddy and that is morally wrong.
Birds: Remember earlier this year when all those birds started dying en masse and people freaked out? Government investigators concluded there was nothing particularly nefarious about the deaths, but Cindy Jacobs, a minister who's listed as an official endorser of The Response, knew better. As she explained it, the bird deaths were God's punishment for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "[T]he blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. Well, the Governor of Arkansas' name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' by a former Governor, this was proposed—Bill Clinton."
Blouses: Feeling down? Can't sleep? Smell something strange in you shirt? Maybe your shirt is cursed. That's the idea floated by Alice Smith, a proponent of "spiritual housecleaning" and an official endorser for the event. As she explained, if you've been in an illicit relationship, "it could be that that spiritual umbilical cord has come down in your lap as a result of that unholy alliance."
Democrats: Alice Patterson is the Texas state coordinator for The Response. And while The Response is explicitly a nonpartisan event, that hasn't kept Patterson from arguing that the Democratic Party is "an invisible network of evil." Hey, that could mean anything! Via Right Wing Watch:
One strong fallen angel cannot wreak havoc on an entire nation by himself. He needs a network of wicked forces to restrain the Church and to deceive the masses. Unlike the Holy Spirit, who is everywhere at once and can speak to millions of people simultaneously, the devil can only be in one place at a time. By himself Satan would be totally ineffective, but in cooperation with other powers of darkness he erects structures to deceive and manipulate entire nations.
Gay people: "They're intolerant, they're hateful, they're vile, they're spiteful," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said of gay rights activists in April. "They're not the enemy. The enemy is simply using them as pawns. They are held captive by the enemy." Perkins, whose FRC was recently labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-gay rhetoric, has been named as a co-chair of The Response and will speak at the event. Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association's issues director, has taken things even further:
So Hitler himself was an active homosexual. And some people wonder, didn't the Germans, didn't the Nazis, persecute homosexuals? And it is true they did; they persecuted effeminate homosexuals. But Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his Stormtroopers, they were his enforcers, they were his thugs. And Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual soldiers basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, were male homosexuals.
All of which is false.
Glee: The AFA, which is co-sponsoring the event, recently launched a boycott of the popular Fox television program because it is "glamorizing homosexual behavior."
Grizzly bears and killer whales: Fischer, whose organization is footing the bill for the event, can't stand either species. When a whale at Sea World killed its trainer in 2010, Fischer called for the beast to be ritually stoned to death because (quoting Exodus) "[w]hen an ox gores a man or woman to death the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten." And after a string of maulings in the mountain west last summer, Fischer called the grizzly "a fierce, savage unstoppable killing machine" that should be shot on sight.
Hurricane Katrina: Among the attendees? None other than the Rev. John Hagee, the Christian Zionist megachurch pastor from San Antonio whom Sen. John McCain was forced to repudiate in 2008. Hagee is most known for his support for Israel, but he has also weighed in on domestic issues. In 2005, he stated that Hurricane Katrina was God's way of getting back at the city for embracing the gay community. The city, he noted, "had a level of sin that was offensive to God." He later clarified that he did not mean to so clearly imply a cause and effect.
The Illuminati: John Benefiel is an Oklahoma City-based pastor and the head of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network. His endorsement is touted by The Response. As Brian Tashman notes, Benefiel also believes that a secret cabal of global elites are planning to use homosexuality to reduce the global population to about 500 million people:
By the way, homosexuality is a great way to control the population. Do you understand? I'm serious about this and I've seen this in lots of places, that the entity that we call the Illuminati which is really over, above Free Masonry, has stated it as their goal…to limit the world population to no more than 500 million. Do you realize that means getting rid of all of us?
Microchips: Intercessors for America, an official endorser of The Response, believes that federal government is developing technology to implant microchips in all citizens as a form of mind control.
Muslims: According to the AFA's Fischer, adherents to the world's second-largest religion are not entitled to First Amendment protections. He also believes that centuries of inbreeding has generated "an enormous cost in intellectual capacity, intellectual quotient among the Islamic people," and he has called for Muslims to be banned from serving in the military.
Violation of separation between church and state?
Governor Perry is a self-described "man of faith" who is Methodist and attends a mega mega church in Austin. ABC News reports that another problem is whether the event, hosted by the governor, crosses the line of separation between church and state:
Perry, a self described “man of faith” and Methodist who attends an evangelical mega-church in Austin, laid out plans for the event called “The Response,” a gathering of Christians dedicating a day to prayer and fasting for a “nation in crisis,” which will take place in Reliant Stadium, a football arena home to the Houston Texans.
“As an elected leader, I’m all too aware of government’s limitations when it comes to fixing things that are spiritual in nature. That’s where prayer comes in, and we need it more than ever,” Perry says in a video on The Response’s website. “With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis and people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need god’s help.”
Perry, who many speculate will run for president this election season, has insisted the event holds no ulterior political motives.
“The event’s not political. The event’s not about promoting an organization, it’s not some fancy promotional event. It’s going to be simple. This is simply people coming, calling out to God,” Perry told a Christian radio show hosted by Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon last month.
But in the weeks leading up to the event, many have stepped up with concerns. Several groups, including, interestingly enough, the Westboro Baptist Church, plan to protest the event. Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, the only governor to accept Perry's invitation, has backed down to a "definite maybe," the Washington Wire at the Wall Street Journal reports:
Could the only gubernatorial guest confirmed to attend Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s national day of prayer—Gov. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.)– be backing out?
That’s the hope of the Kansas Equality Coalition, a group that bills itself as the largest gay rights organization in the state. The group criticized Mr. Brownback for accepting the invitation, citing the anti-gay stance of the event host, the American Family Association.
The AFA “isn’t just extreme, it’s barbaric,” said Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition. “I don’t think the governor of Kansas, who’s governor of all of us, should be participating in rallies put together by groups that espouse those views.”
Mr. Brownback’s office had no comment on the matter, and a spokeswoman would not say whether the governor definitely plans to attend the prayer event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.
“The event is still on his calendar, so it’ll be at his discretion and at his expense,” the spokeswoman said. Earlier this summer, the Republican governor’s RSVP was less equivocal; the Lawrence Journal-World reported his spokeswoman said Mr. Brownback had accepted the invitation to attend Mr. Perry’s event, titled “The Response: A call to prayer for a nation in crisis.”
People are invited to fast for the event, but organizers of the event have ordered a lot of food for the media and those who do not wish to fast.