Not too long ago, David Barton tweeted a link to this piece by Kelly Shackleford, suggesting that those who dare to criticize Gov. Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally need a “lesson in religious freedom”:
It seems that criticizing or opposing a public prayer rally is an attack on the religious freedom of those organizing such a rally.
Which is interesting considering that back in 2009 when a group of Muslims sought to organize a prayer rally on the National Mall, David Barton, Lou Engle, Tony Perkins, Shirley Dobson, Cindy Jacobs and others swung into action to mobilize their their own activists to counter the rally’s “dark spiritual intent“:
[O]n the 25th of September, Muslims are calling for a Muslim Day of Prayer in Washington DC (http://www.islamoncapitolhill.com/). They are calling for 50,000 Muslims to gather and pray on the DC Mall. This is the exact word of one of the Sheikhs who is leading this historic gathering, “Muslims should march on the White House. We are going to the White House so that Islam will be victorious, Allah willing, and the White House will become into a Muslim house.” These are not empty words. They speak of a dark spiritual intent and a coming day of great trouble to America.
Therefore we are calling Christians all over America to join Lou Engle, Shirley Dobson, Tony Perkins, David Barton, and many other major leaders in America to a national conference call to pray for America. Please join us on Thursday, September 24th from 7:30PM to 9:00PM Eastern Time for possibly one of the greatest moments in American history.
A related group of Religious Right activists them unveiled a letter demanding that rally organizers disavow a list of specific acts of terrorism that were “committed by Muslims, in the name of Islam” while Barton used it as an opportunity to pen a long piece blaming President Obama for giving Muslims courage to gather in this sort of public manner and urging Christians to use it as an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of Christianity:
Heartened by this new encouragement, Muslim leaders have called 50,000 observant Muslims to come to the Capitol this Friday, September 25, for a day of Jummah (Friday congregational prayer). The sponsors promise that from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m., “the Athan [the call given five times each day for Muslims to participate in mandatory prayer] will be chanted on Capitol Hill, echoing off of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and other great edifices that surround Capitol Hill.” The goal of this event is that “the peace, beauty and solidarity of Islam will shine through America’s capitol.” In fact, their website for this unprecedented event proudly and unabashedly declares, “Our Time Has Come!”
As Bible-believing people, let’s also make this Friday a day of prayer – and please encourage others to participate with you. We know that our contest is with spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12), and we firmly believe that He Who is within us is greater than any other god or force (1 John 4:4), so I encourage you to fill America with prayer to the True God this coming Friday.
Of course, Barton tried to downplay the idea that he was urging Christians to directly compete against Islam:
This call for Christians to pray this Friday is not a prayer “competition” between Christianity and Islam, nor is it a spiritual Christian “jihad” or “holy war” (what an oxymoronic term – a holy war!). After all, in I Kings 18, Elijah encouraged the prophets of the god Baal to take more time in their praying; he didn’t object to their prayers, he just wanted to make sure that he was able to make his own prayers to the True God. This Friday offers a similar opportunity for those who fear God and believe His Scriptures to offer up their own prayers to Him.
And that might seem like a convincing argument … unless you actually know that in the Bible passage Barton cites the prophet Elijah literally pitted God against Baal in competition and then “taunted” Baal’s prophets when they lost – and then killed every one of them:
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!”
40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
So when Muslims wanted to hold a public prayer rally, the Religious Right mobilized to challenge it in “one of the greatest moments in American history.”
But when Rick Perry organizes a public prayer rally and anyone dares to criticize it, those anti-Christian bigots need to “take a lesson in religious freedom.”