Back in April, Texas Governor Rick Perry officially proclaimed three days of prayer to bring rain. Texas was already in a bad way at I suppose he and his advisors thought a little prayer couldn’t hurt. According to the US drought monitor, here is what the nation looked like on April 19, just a couple of days before the season of prayer.
It looked bad then. Now look at the map of the drought for August 9.
As the key shows the darker colors indicate dryer conditions. Since the official days of prayer, the drought has worsened significantly. The last ten months are the worst on record.
Jesus told his followers that they should always pray and not faint. So I am not faulting Perry for praying for relief from the drought. Even though lakes, rivers, and people are fainting, acknowledging God is good religious policy.
But is it good public policy? I think Perry is vulnerable politically because he has lifted up prayer as a kind of last resort for politicians when they face difficult policy questions. To promote his August 6 prayer meeting in Houston, Perry said there are some problems so big that only God can fix them. While I have no problem with asking God for wisdom, I am not and I don’t think most Americans are prepared to “let go, and let God” when it comes to the economy, or national defense. If so, then just pray for Mr. Obama and the economy and watch the charts.
On The Response website, John Adams’ call to fast and pray is cited as a precedent for Perry’s prayer meeting. However, Adams came to regret his proclamation, saying it turned him out of office. Many evangelicals already like Perry, but it will take more than common ground with that large voting bloc to answer his prayers for the Presidency.
Speaking of Texas, I wonder who has been praying for the worst-record-in-baseball Houston Astros.
Rick Perry’s not-as-big-as-hoped prayer meeting, The Response is underway in Texas. You can check out the live stream at the website. As I take a break and write, a gospel choir is belting out some sweet praise music. As an evangelical, these songs touch me deeply and as is customary for me lifts my emotions.
But then I think about who is paying the bills (host entity) for the event.
The folks who think there is honor in the displacement and elimination of Native Americans from the land, who blame the Holocaust (6 million dead Jews) on gays, and who think the First Amendment is only for Christians, among many other offensive things are paying the bills.
To onlookers, I just want to say sorry.
On the video below, at least four people who are associated with Governor Rick Perry’s The Response prayer meeting speak in favor of an apology to Native American people for the atrocities committed against them by European settlers. Jay Swallow, Lou Engle, Sam Brownback and John Benefiel appear and support the Native American Apology Resolution. In fact, John Benefiel’s ministry made the video.
Lou Engle, who is not listed as a The Response endorser but is a part of the International House of Prayer which is providing support, speaks about the apology as a way to remove the curse on the land due to how the American government treated native people. He leaves the impression that abortion today might be related in some way to the government’s practice of making and breaking treaties.
On the other hand, the event is being funded by the American Family Association, a group which condones and provides a platform for the views of Bryan Fischer. Fischer believes the native people were wiped out because they were so savage and immoral that God favored the occupying European settlers. If confessing national sins is on the agenda, I wonder if the prayers of all of these people will cancel each other out. Some will pray thanks for removing the land from the native people, and others will ask forgiveness for taking it.
While I do not link any of our present day issues to curses, I do believe that Christians should be in the front of the line to support the Native American Apology Resolution. I repeatedly asked the AFA to do so back in the Spring with dead silence from them. In taking the view that America was acting as a proxy for God, he and the AFA stand in direct opposition to those they are partnering with to put on The Response.
After I posted the above, I explored the work of John Benefiel a bit more. Right Wing Watch has a couple of posts bringing to light Benefiel’s views about the Statue of Liberty (demonic) and homosexuality (big Baal conspiracy). You can read more about Benefiel here. Benefiel and Cindy Jacobs have a fixation on Baal which strangely enough is a tie to the Native American Apology Resolution. It is all explained here in this prayer alert from Jacobs’ Generals International.
I don’t really understand it all, but it appears that the Resolution was used as a kind of talisman to appease spirits in places around Route 50 all through the nation. The Resolution is important because it represents a necessary step to keeping a covenant given by God to the Pilgrims to evangelize the native people. So when the settlers breached treaties, they were also breaking covenant with God. According to this line of thinking, God won’t hear our prayers until we get things right with indigenous people.
The passage of the Resolution was viewed as a means of entering into a second phase of repentence from idolatry — which is divorcing Baal via a rejection of freemasonry and the occult. Enter the statue of liberty. According to Benefiel, this pagan symbol is idol worship. Benefiel and the Generals folks want to pray all of that away.
What a gathering The Promise should be. I think if God could be confused, this meeting might be the one to accomplish it. David Barton will be thanking God for George Washington’s faith, and John Benefiel will be divorcing himself from Washington’s freemasonry. Bryan Fischer and the AFA might pray in thanks for delivering the land into the hands of the Europeans, and John Benefiel and the apostles will be in remorse over it.
Since God is not the author of confusion, then I am not sure what is going on with The Response.
I believe the Indian Country Times is the largest Native American news service on the web. Today, they published my article asking why Governor Rick Perry would partner with the American Family Association given the vilification of Native Americans by Bryan Fischer and condoned by the AFA earlier in the year. I am glad that the ICT folks consider the issue relevant and important enough to bring before their readers.
Click the link for the article.
Of late, left leaning groups have raised concerns about a prayer meeting convened by Texas Governor Rick Perry and hosted by the American Family Association. Called “The Response,” the event bills itself as a religiously motivated solemn assembly. To me, it seems like a political statement. About his work, National Finance Chair for the event and uber-organizer, David Lane says, “What I do is spiritual. The by-product is political.”
One of the major problems with the event as raised by critics is the involvement of the American Family Association. Even though I am an evangelical, I agree. In my view, the AFA has earned their designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Critics point to outrageous statements from the AFA’s Bryan Fischer regarding gays, Muslims and African-Americans as reason to question why a prominent elected official would partner with the AFA.
While all of the insults and stereotypes identified by critics are serious and disqualifying, I don’t want us to forget Bryan Fischer’s views of Native Americans. Early in 2011, Fischer wrote that “Native Americans morally disqualified themselves from the land,” saying that Native Americans were so savage and immoral that they were displaced for their evil. In other words, they got what was coming to them. Even though that article was removed from the AFA website, the AFA was silent on the issue, allowing Fischer to remove it without an apology saying he removed it because his critics were not “mature enough” for the subject. Then Fischer followed up that article with one that stated Native American assimilation into the new America would have been “seamless and bloodless” if only they had converted to Christianity. One Native American writer called Fischer’s articles “ugly” and said he advocated “thinly veiled race-purity arguments.”
A few evangelicals spoke out. Two Southern Baptist leaders criticized Ficher’s views as being “a barrier” to efforts to bridge gaps between evangelicals and Native communities. Native American Southern Baptist pastor, Emerson Falls, said about Fischer and the AFA, “This kind of stereotyping has traditionally been used to de-humanize people so they can be treated differently. I believe Native Americans are no different than any other people created in the image of God.”
That Rev. Falls would need to repeat the obvious is an indicator of the offense caused by the AFA. Despite calls for a redemptive response, the AFA refused repeated requests for comment on the matter. A couple of AFA staffers said they disagreed with Fischer but even they stressed that they were not speaking for the organization. In short, the AFA has done nothing to distance the group from Fischer’s racial stereotyping.
In my view, the AFA should not be leading a prayer event claiming to call America to their view of righteousness. I am surprised and sad that Governor Perry would partner with them.
I was even more surprised that Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS) would agree to take part. Brownback was a prime mover of the Native American Apology Resolution which I called the AFA in March to endorse. I do agree that at times it can be productive to join together with various groups to accomplish an objective. However, it is beyond me how these two Governors can partner with a organization that regularly slanders and maligns entire groups of people, not individuals mind you, entire groups. In the case of Brownback, he once stood for confession of wrongs in apology to Native Americans, but now he stands with a group which openly rejects the need for that apology.
My response to The Response is no.