Christian conservatives, blaming “moral depravity” for everything from the recession to terrorism, are converging on Philadelphia for a mashup of a religious revival and election rally.
Called “America for Jesus 2012,” the assembly is attracting support across a spectrum of Protestant clergy and activists. Among the scheduled speakers are far-right religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, along with preachers such as Cindy Jacobs of Generals International ministry who say they’re prophets with a direct line to God.
John Blanchard, national coordinator for “America for Jesus 2012,” claims the two-day event that starts tonight is nonpartisan.
It’s modeled after the 1980 “Washington for Jesus” rally, considered a pivotal show of organizational strength by the then-fledgling Christian right. Bishop Anne Gimenez, whose late husband John helped lead the 1980 assembly, is a lead organizer of the Philadelphia gathering.
“We are praying that God would touch America,” said Blanchard, executive pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia, which the Gimenez family founded. “We’re not Democrats and Republicans. We’re Christians.”
Still, many of those offering prayers at the event have been outspoken critics of President Barack Obama. Steve Strang, the influential Pentecostal publisher of Charisma magazine, wrote in a blog post inviting readers to join him in Philadelphia that America is under threat from a “radical homosexual agenda” and Obama “seems to be moving toward some form of European socialism.”
Jacobs blamed a mysterious Arkansas bird-kill last year on Obama’s repeal of the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” enabling gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
David Barton, a self-taught historian who emphasizes the Christian roots of the U.S., is another rally supporter. Barton wrote in a Feb. 29 article that Obama has shown “hostility toward Biblical people of faith” while giving “preferential treatment” to Muslims. (Obama has said he was raised in a nonreligious home and later became Christian.) The publisher Thomas Nelson last month withdrew Barton’s book, “The Jefferson Lies,” citing historical errors. The book challenged the belief that Jefferson was largely secular and promoted the separation of church and state.
Attendees will be asked to start 40 days of prayer and fasting, through the Nov. 6, election, to help turn the nation toward God.
“America is in a state of emergency evidenced by the symptoms of widespread moral depravity and economic meltdown,” organizers wrote on the rally’s website. “Education, government, and man’s wisdom cannot solve this problem.”