Americans United reports:
Evangelist Lou Engle believes the rally he held in Sacramento, Calif., over Labor Day weekend will be a turning point for America.
Engle boasted that his event would do nothing less than spark a nationwide revival. As Frederick Clarkson, a researcher of the Religious Right noted, the Kansas City, Mo.-based preacher asserted that “The Call Sacramento” event would be the “hinge of history” that opens the door to “the greatest awakening” and lead to “returning our nation to its righteous roots.”
It may sound ambitious, but Engle isn’t the only Religious Right leader with big plans these days. Indeed, it has been a busy fall for the theocrats, who are on the march nationwide in advance of next month’s elections.
Rebounding from two difficult years, an array of Religious Right organizations are waging a massive – often under-the-radar – campaign this fall to register church-going voters, drive congregants to the polls and elect favored candidates.
Their goal is simple: Help their political allies recapture the House of Representatives and Senate and move their issues front and center on the national stage.
Although many of the events are cast as benign-sounding prayer rallies or calls for revival, there is often a not-so-subtle political component as well. Many of the confabs include partisan speakers or incorporate voter mobilization activities.
Recent events included:
Aug. 28: Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” Rally. Beck, the controversial Fox News pundit, sponsored a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., that attracted about 100,000 attendees. (A smaller “Divine Destiny” event at the Kennedy Center the night before drew 1,500 people.)
Beck is a Mormon but often features “Christian nation” rhetoric on his program, with David Barton, a Texas Religious Right activist who insists that church-state separation is a myth, as a frequent guest. Beck described his event as a celebration of civil rights and said it would be non-political. However, Sarah Palin was among the speakers, and the day after the rally, Beck attacked President Barack Obama’s religious beliefs during a national television appearance.
Sept. 3-4: “The Call Sacramento.” Engle, a Pentecostal preacher who is popular with evangelical college students, held this event in California’s capital in part due to the ongoing “cultural war” there over same-sex marriage. Engle demands that conservative Christians “vote and act according to God’s heart and mandates” and portrays politics as a struggle between “kingdom power” and “this present darkness.”
Sept. 10-11: Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference and Strategy Briefing. Former Christian Coalition operative Ralph Reed’s attempt to get back in the political game was tested when his new group, the Faith & Freedom Coalition, held its first conference in Washington, D.C. Reed –who fell from grace due to his involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandals – claims to be raising $32 million to steer conservative Christians to the polls.
Sept. 17-18: Values Voter Summit. The Family Research Council (FRC) and allied organizations held their annual Summit in Washington, D.C. This event has become the leading Religious Right conference in the nation and attracts a bevy of major Religious Right leaders and Republican politicians. In addition to the FRC, sponsors included the American Family Association, the Heritage Foundation and Liberty University.
Sept. 19: “Pray & A.C.T.” The Rev. Jim Garlow, an associate of Newt Gingrich, organized this project, which features a period of 40 days of prayer and fasting prior to the elections. The D.C. kickoff included a voter registration component and will conclude Oct. 30 with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Supported by a broad coalition of conservative religious leaders, the Renewing American Leadership project calls for Christians to “transform the culture” by “voting in elections only for candidates who affirm the sanctity of life in all stages and conditions, the integrity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty and respect for conscience.”
Sept. 20: The “40/40 Prayer Vigil.” This nationwide event, sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, claims to focus on personal spiritual revival. However, the 40-day vigil begins with a prayer for voter registration, includes a prayer for Christians to run for office and ends with a prayer for “discernment of candidates” and for “God’s people to vote.”
Sept. 26: “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” The Alliance Defense Fund urged evangelical pastors nationwide to violate federal tax law by endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit.
Why are there so many events, and why do so many of them feature voter mobilization?
In a nutshell, the Religious Right’s fortunes are closely tied to the Republican Party’s status. When the GOP lost power in Washington in 2008, the Religious Right also took a hit. Its legislative proposals have stalled, and it finds itself unable to block bills and court appointments and effectively influence governmental policy.
Eager to regain power in the nation’s capital (and in state legislatures), the Religious Right is going all out to do whatever it can to help more of its allies get elected to public office.