The late Virginia pastor John Gimenez founded the Washington for Jesus rally on April 29, 1980 with fellow Religious Right activists including Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, Bill Bright and Jerry Falwell to mobilize “against abortion, in favor of allowing prayer in schools, opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment and against homosexual conduct.” Bright told Ronald Reagan that his election was a result of the Washington for Jesus prayer rally, telling him: “Mr. President, you were elected April 29, 1980, not in November.”
Gimenez’s wife Anne is now planning a similar prayer rally in Philadelphia called ‘America for Jesus’ to combat “widespread moral depravity and economic meltdown,” and has the help of figures such as Jim Garlow, Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engle, Samuel Rodriguez, Doug Stringer and Harry Jackson.
The prominent role of New Apostolic Reformation leaders in the event reveals just how much the Religious Right has changed and grown even more extreme, as leaders now not only claim that they have a divine mandate to change politics but also that they are actual apostles and prophets with the same divine appointment as the apostles and prophets of the Bible and receive direct prophesies from God.
But much like Washington for Jesus, this prayer rally will be non-political in name only, as the host of far-right and partisan figures organizing the event demonstrates.
“America’s soul is sick, but I believe America still has a chance; I believe in resurrection, and I believe prayer changes things–and that is what we intend to do,” said Bishop Anne Gimenez, pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia Beach, Va., and chairman of America for Jesus 2012. “It’s not about who will be in the White House nor our current financial crisis, it’s about America needing the presence of God.”
To-date, the five national and numerous regional rallies attended by several hundred thousand people have made significant impact affecting millions across the country and the national movement continues to call for a return to biblical values rather than endorsing any particular party or candidate.
“Much like the movement for independence in the 18th century, America for Jesus 2012 is a patriotic movement, not a political one,” said John Blanchard, national coordinator for America for Jesus 2012. “Although the presidential election will be less than six weeks away, there will be no partisan divisions when we convene in Philadelphia. We don’t need to follow the elephant or the donkey, but rather the Lamb of God.”
“Forty days before the election, we will be bringing the salt of the nation to the headwaters of America to pray for an awakening and for the spiritual needs of the country,” said Billy Wilson, co-chair for America for Jesus 2012 and Executive Director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal.