Link roundup: conservative Christian prayer efforts ramp up

As Election Day approaches, conservative Christian groups are mounting a wide array of prayer initiatives. Several of them started last week and intend to pray for 40 days (depending on how they count the days) until the election.

Most of these initiatives are presenting their message primarily in religious terms, not partisan ones. There’s also a lot less direct language of spiritual warfare than we saw in the DC 40 campaign. The favorite language here is about “solemn assemblies” and “crying out to God.”

While there’s some religious language about criteria for candidates (humility, reverence, etc) which has dog-whistle connotations, there’s very little or no direct discussion of who one should vote for – possibly because some evangelical voters remain uncomfortable with Romney’s Mormonism.

The two overarching themes are a call for people to rely on their conception of the Christian god, not on human resources, and a push for revival fueled by the same misconceptions, exaggerations, and lies that conservative Christian activists have been peddling for years.

Here’s an overview, looking back to some events in September and forward to the election itself:

On September 11th, the Awakening America Alliance (note: site has auto-play video with sound), an umbrella group that tries to bring together multiple ministries, initiatives, and organizations, sponsored “Cry Out America” gatherings, many held at county courthouses. The suggested program mixed prayer, music, and short readings in ways that blended and unified Christianity and American patriotism. The Pledge of Allegiance, for example, was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the Christian flag and another to the Bible. One reading reminded listeners that “we must recognize that the Church, the body of Christ, bears a tremendous load of responsibility in providing moral and spiritual guidance for our nation,” after which corporate prayer involved repenting for everything from mistreating “black Africans” (in slavery) to problems of sexual immorality and devaluing traditional gender roles.

Awakening America’s press release claims that over 2,600 gatherings took place with an average of 100 attendees, meaning a quarter-million people participated nationwide.

The next big event was the America for Jesus rally held in Philadelphia over the weekend of September 28th-29th. The website describes America displaying “symptoms of widespread moral depravity and economic meltdown.” One key leader announced that the purpose of the rally was to make voters “go biblical” in the upcoming election. An atheist reported on the interesting mix of politeness and drive for theocracy that he encountered there.

Thousands attended, and a key event was a speech where Pat Robertson declared:

“I don’t care what the ACLU says or any atheist says, this nation belongs to Jesus,” he declared. “We will never change America through politics. We will only change America through a mighty
outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.”

Unfortunately, the event left organizers with $98,000 of debt, so they are still soliciting supporters for additional donations.

A handful of other initiatives are cross-promoting with these big in-person events. The same individuals, ministries, and organizations are involved or featured in nearly all of these. One of them, If My People, is doing its outreach through short daily videos with a wide-ranging roster of speakers. The content so far is pretty standard, but the format is a little different, and it will be interesting to see if their rhetoric changes as the election gets closer. Another is the 50 Days of Decision campaign, which features the state-by-state prayer target structure we’ve seen before. It’s a little more obvious in its political message, saying:

“Consider what your state has contributed to the governance of the nation. Have your elected representatives been agents of righteousness or wickedness, wisdom or folly? Have they, perhaps unwittingly, permitted the federal government to grow so big that it has in some ways become as much a threat to our wellbeing as a protector of it? Humbly ask God to help those who serve you in those capacities at present to do so in the fear of the Lord and wisdom, or be replaced if they will not. We know there could be some differences of opinion on some social and economic issues, but at least try to come into agreement on the more obvious issues such as protection for the unborn.”

Acknowledging the possibility for disagreement on the political implementation of the religious rhetoric is an interesting point, as most of these campaigns treat it as given what kind of votes a truly prayerful contemplation will imply.

A more aggressive approach is taken by The Summons, which combines a prayer initiative with an in-person gathering being held this weekend in Washington DC. The organization has links to several extremely conservative organizations, including Family Research Council and International House of Prayer. The prayer plan is organized around the same state-by-state schedule, although alphabetically this time. Those participating are urged to pray for seven specific areas of concern – which match up neatly with the Seven Mountains of 7M dominionism, indicating the theocratic motivations underpinning the effort.

The physical rally seems to be mostly a private event, although the program does provide specific times for participants to lobby their lawmakers in person and to gather at strategic locations around the city to offer special prayers.

The most highly touted initiative, and one we’ll be watching for the future, is 40 Days to Save America. It features a who’s who of conservative Christian people and organizations: Janet Porter, Father Frank Pavone, Jerry Boykin, Tim Wildmon, and lots more. Many of these folks are associated with the New Apostolic Reformation, although this effort seems to be broader than just NAR. Consistent with NAR and similar efforts, they’re much more explicitly political: leader Rick Scarborough declares that they intend to remove “ungodly” officials from office.

The campaign’s educational materials on vital topics are much more aggressive and less religious, and the “information” contained therein ranges from deliberately misleading readers to outright lies. The anti-abortion materials imply that Planned Parenthood spends federal funding on abortions, encouraging readers to support defunding Planned Parenthood, an effort which nearly brought the federal government to a standstill earlier this year. Materials on religious liberty lie about the requirements of the reproductive care mandate of Obamacare and distort what kinds of religious expression are and are not allowed in schools. The fact sheet on marriage insists that recognizing same-sex marriage will make men “wives” and women “husbands,” and that churches will be forced to perform gay marriages and pastors imprisoned for preaching.

That’s all for now! Feel free to comment on these or suggest other things to keep an eye on; we may follow up on these topics in future posts.


This post was written by
Literata is a Wiccan who studies theaology and enjoys developing poetry and rituals. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Mandragora and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. She also blogs at Forging Futures and writes for her own site, Works of Literata, . When she's not leading Rose Coven, reading Tarot or communing with nature, she works on her Ph.D. dissertation in history and enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and four cats. Please note that everything Literata writes here is solely her own personal opinion. It does not represent the position of any organization with which she is affiliated.

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