On Friday, Nov. 11 (11/11/11), right-wing activist Lou Engle and the group Transformation Michigan will host The Call: Detroit a prayer rally, the stated purpose of which is to convert Muslims to Christianity to prevent what Transformation Michigan calls “the advance of the enemy.”
When speaking with mainstream news outlets, The Call: Detroit’s organizers have attempted to downplay their anti-Muslim rhetoric, painting the rally as an inclusive gathering for people of faith to pray for Detroit’s depressed economy. However, Engle and Transformation Michigan’s statements to supporters show that The Call will present something much more harmful and divisive: an attempt to stir up misunderstanding and fear of Detroit and Dearborn’s Muslim communities while promoting a view of government exclusively by and for conservative Christians.
The Call: Detroit is closely linked to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s radical The Response rally in August, which was organized by the International House of Prayer, where Engle is based, and included many of the same speakers. Perry’s rally came under scrutiny for promoting “Seven Mountains Dominionism,” a fringe movement of conservative Christians who seek to take over the “seven mountains” of American life – including government, media, business and entertainment – in order to pave the way for the End Times. The Call: Detroit, whose speakers have promoted radical anti-Muslim, anti-gay and anti-choice views, come from the same tradition, which seeks to blend right-wing politics and religion and promote a government run by and catering to a small number of Christian conservatives.
A number of Detroit faith leaders have begun speaking out against The Call: Detroit, including Rev. Charles Williams II of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action. “Religious leaders who support this event should really take a look at what its undertones are all about,” Rev. Williams said, “As a Christian pastor I support prayer, but not to bash another religion, nor to hide behind the subterfuge of political gamesmanship.”
We at Right Wing Watch put together a video of Engle, along with Rick Joyner and Jerry Boykin, who serve with Engle on The Call’s national leadership team, stating their beliefs that Islam is literally “demonic” and Muslims need to convert to Christianity:
Engle has made no secret of his goal to use The Call: Detroit to challenge what he calls “the rising tide of the Islamic movement.” He says the event will be “launching forty days and forty nights of intercession and we’re daring to believe that God will invade the heavens over Dearborn and Muslims will have dreams of Jesus.” He has also said of the event, “We’re gathering together to say, ‘God, pour out your grace and revelations of Jesus all over Dearborn and the Muslim communities of North and South America.’” Engle says that because “the largest population of Muslims is right next to Detroit, we dare to believe that millions of Muslims will come to Christ.” In previous prayer events, Engle has claimed that Muslims have a long-term strategy to take over America and that “Muslims’ proclamations for fourteen hundred years have been fueling the demonic realm.” Recently, Transformation Michigan pulled from its website a video of Engle discussing how The Call will be used to convert Muslims
Along with Engle’s The Call organization, the Detroit event is being organized by Transformation Michigan, and affiliate of the Oak Initiative, a dominionist group that seeks to have Christians take control of all aspects of American life. Rick Joyner, the head of the Oak Initiative, has claimed that the “the Lord is using Islam” to send judgment on America and that Islam itself is “God’s judgment upon the nations for their perversions and for their abortions.” He also warned that Muslims are plotting to transform Michigan into a Muslim state, educators across the country are surreptitiously replacing the Founding Fathers in school textbooks with Muslims and that President Obama may be a secret Muslim, citing “strong evidence that Obama is indeed a Muslim.” Joyner has worked with anti-Muslim leader Frank Gaffney to warn that a one-world religion called Chrislam may soon take over the world. Joyner discussed with Gaffney the idea that the U.S. should establish a “House Anti-American Activities Committee” to investigate Muslim-Americans and other people he deemed treasonous, like in the Cold War.
Engle’s extreme positions extend to his opposition to gay rights. At a The Call rally in Uganda, Engle gave his blessing to Uganda’s proposed law prescribing the death penalty for homosexuality. He has also claimed that universities with LGBT anti-discrimination measures are teaching students to “accept the mark of the beast” and claimed that the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri was God’s judgment for abortion.
The Call: Detroit is set to attract some of the radical dominionist speakers who participated in Perry’s The Response rally. Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet who spoke at Perry’s rally, has already announced that she will be speaking at the Detroit event. Jacobs infamously insisted that birds were dying in Arkansas earlier this year because of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. After The Response, Jacobs claimed that the event had broken a curse put on Texas by Native American cannibals.
The Oak Initiative has mobilized activists across the country to pass laws against the imagined threat of Sharia law. Rachel Tabachnick reports that the group’s Texas branch “tried (unsuccessfully) to stop a Presbyterian organization from allowing a Muslim youth group to use their camp. The Texas Oak Initiative coordinator then worked with Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and a representative from Eagle Forum, to help Texas legislators prepare House Bill 3027 to ban Shariah law in Texas courts.”
Jerry Boykin, who left the military following controversial anti-Muslim speeches and who is also a board member of the Oak Initiative and an advisory member of The Call, spoke with Transformation Michigan earlier this year about “the threat of Islam.” In that conversation, Rick Warzywak, the head of Transformation Michigan, described an operation “like sending out Special Forces like in Afghanistan” to have people “pray over every mosque in our state,” and Boykin called for Christians to be “praying over mosques” all over the country. Boykin has also called for the U.S. to ban mosques and has argued that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment.” Boykin worked with Frank Gaffney, the outspoken anti-Muslim activist, to write the Team B II report on the supposed threat of Sharia law gaining legal authority in the U.S.
Rick Warzywak, the head of Transformation Michigan, said in an organizing call for The Call: Detroit, “We need the harvest of the Muslim people. We can’t just sit by and let them continue the on the way they are, worshipping their false god.” He went on to describe Transformation Michigan as a “Delta Force” and said that while he was “city-hopping across the state with Lou Engle last week, I have seen a phenomenal unity of the body even amongst races, and awareness of the Islamic threat that we have and the importance of praying and lifting up a house of prayer.”
Bill Sudduth, who also participated in the organizing call, said he worked with Transformation Michigan to “expose the very real connection under [the pagan god] Baal between Freemasonry and Islam” and discussed plans to foment “prayer of release of Islam and the spirits behind it” and to have groups “physically going to these mosques” for “advancing the kingdom and pushing back the darkness.”
Self-proclaimed apostle Ellis Smith said on the same call that The Call: Detroit will be used to root out Islam in Detroit: “Islam is a false religion. It doesn’t move people in the things of God. Islam is lame. People are decrepit, cripple, they can’t move forward. It’s a perverse religion…What I’m saying to you is Detroit had to happen because we have to break these barriers that have hindered in so many ways.”
Transformation Michigan writes on their website:
Michigan also has one of the largest or even maybe the largest Muslim population area in the United States (Dearborn and Southeast Detroit). Islam is a state first and religion second that has the motive to control and take over. Many Muslims have declared Michigan will be the first Islamic state in the nation.
There are those who live in these areas who have the seeds of terrorism within them with a design to bring destruction to America.
We declare that Dearborn and Southeast Detroit will experience a great revival amongst Muslims in that region. We also declare that the hatred and evil that manifests from terrorism will be exposed and dismantled.