TheCall to arms
A major GOP campaign to muster religious votes in November launches in town
Beginning this weekend in Sacramento, prayer events coordinated by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership organization and featuring prominent U.S. evangelicals will kick off a Republican effort to mobilize the religious right for the November election.
But these are not your grandma’s revival meetings. For instance, the Rev. Lou Engle’s “TheCall,” which is billed as a celebration of faith and will take place Friday at West Sacramento’s Raley Field, is not unlike Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor”: It’s a religious event with a political agenda.
On Saturday morning, TheCall also will be part of a prayer rally at the Capitol Mall that, according to the group’s permit application, hopes to attract up to 50,000 people.
That’s a lot of praying.
Sacramento activist Jerry Sloan has been examining the political activities of right-wing religious groups since 1980. He pointed out that TheCall recently held a rally in Uganda, where a new law to punish homosexual behavior with lengthy prison sentences and, in some cases, death, is under consideration. While Engle himself did not address the law, a number of other speakers at TheCall’s event called for its passage, according to Sloan.
“They were allowed to dress up the murder of gay people in religious language,” he says.
TheCall’s organizers did not return SN&R’s calls by press time, but the group’s website features an apology by Engle for the promotion of Uganda’s anti-gay bill. Yet Engle still encourages the Ugandans to continue their fight against “an unwelcome intrusion of homosexual ideology into an 83 percent Christian nation.”
TheCall’s religious-right agenda will not spare Sacramento this Saturday, when Engle hopes to “build a wall for life and the sanctity of marriage” around the state Capitol, according to a video released by former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee. This same video also denounces a recent federal court decision that overturned Proposition 8.
What’s more, activist Sloan says the Rev. Engle’s TheCall practices a warlike theology. Several other videos of TheCall mention raising a “Joel 2” army—and warn that the end of the world is just around the corner.
“[Engle] talks to these young people about being in Joel’s army,” Sloan says. “They’re to go out and slay the infidels.”
In fact, Sloan sees little difference between some of the militant imagery used by the Rev. Engle and the language used by other radical fundamentalists. “This is not terribly different than jihad,” he says.
“It is the Christian version of jihad.”