On Monday, dominionist preacher Lou Engle convened Rise Up, the latest in his series of political prayer rallies organized under the banner of “The Call,” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The rally, which capped off a weekend of evangelical activities, drew nothing close to the crowd that Engle had been hoping for. But it did draw, in addition to Engle’s fellow members of the Trump-supporting apostolic network POTUS Shield like “prophet” Cindy Jacobs and anti-abortion activist Alveda King, anti-choice movement leaders like Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, and Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List.
Participants had been told to pray in advance for God to “remove” or reform four more Supreme Court justices to clear the way for Trump to appoint more anti-choice justices. Engle took up that “reform or resign” prayer from the stage, saying “we have a three-year window for a massive shift.”
Alan Sears, founder and recently retired president of the Alliance Defending Freedom, declared that Supreme Court justices have “committed a crime against humanity” by “withdrawing legal protection from a class of human beings, the children in the womb.” He spoke about Moral Outcry, an effort to gather millions of signatures on a petition to the Supreme Court asking them to overturn Roe v. Wade; he said on Friday he had filed the first 57,000 signatures. “It’s not over,” he said, “until the gate of hell has been smashed open” and Roe v. Wade is no more.
Nance urged people to lobby the Senate for passage of the 20-week abortion ban recently approved by the House of Representatives. Jacobs also prayed that Senators who are not pro-life would be removed.
Also speaking was a representative of the Museum of the Bible, which is being built just off the National Mall by the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby. Engle jumped in to lead prayers asking for an anointing on the museum so that it would help spark a revival of the word of God in America.
Engle and other speakers placed the day-long rally in a line with previous evangelical gatherings in Washington, D.C., including Washington For Jesus, the Promise Keepers, and previous “The Call” events. Rise Up was focused on women; Engle had had a vision of a gathering of “weeping and wailing” women that would be a last-ditch attempt to avert God’s judgment on the nation. Speakers invoked the biblical figures of Esther and Deborah as role models.
While there were some messages of empowerment—speakers encouraged women to take spiritual leadership and one urged young women to go abroad as missionaries rather than waiting to get married—there were also some sharply anti-feminist messages. Several speakers contrasted the rally with “angry” feminists and the Women’s March that took place after President Trump’s inauguration, which Engle had earlier said was not “founded on the biblical foundations of righteousness and justice.”
Gianna Jessen, an anti-abortion and disability rights activist described as the survivor of an attempted abortion, had a message for feminists. She said that they’re angry at their fathers but they can’t sleep their way to happiness. She said they must repent for “rampant promiscuity” and for “emasculating men.”
The apostolic networks that Engle and Jacobs travel in believe that generational and geographical curses can be lifted when repentance is made. Raleigh Washington of Promise Keepers told women who had been victims of domestic violence that they had to forgive the men who had harmed them. Jacobs told Washington, “look at your daughter and ask for forgiveness on behalf of those daddies who weren’t good daddies.” His daughter, also on stage, forgave those fathers on behalf of women who had been abandoned or abused. Engle said that the role-played forgiveness was “an act of spiritual warfare” against the spirit of angry feminism.
Another speaker, Devi Titus, told women who had just prayed to “let it go” that they should never say that prayer again because “what was done to you in the past is over.” She told women not to be afraid of their femininity, saying, “God is raising up today a gender appreciation movement.” Titus said it’s a problem that women want to be married “but don’t want to be wives,” urging them to honor and respect men.
“We declare the healing of the female heart,” said Jacobs, adding that “we don’t need to be angry, screaming women.”
Women’s wombs were a major topic of discussion. George Washington’s mother “opened a womb of intercession” with her prayers, said one speaker. “The womb must be opened in America,” Engle prayed. All women are mothers, said one speaker, even if they do not bear children “in the natural,” because they share Eve’s DNA. Another speaker asked women to pray with their hands on their bellies and decreed that even if they had been told that they were barren, God would give them multiple children.
Speakers led prayers encouraging adoption and calling for an end to sex trafficking. Another theme was creating unity across racial divides. African Americans were urged to open a path to unity by forgiving white people for slavery and other injustices. Jacobs got on her knees crying as she apologized to black women for having to fear that their children would be killed by police. “There’s a culture of fear in America,” she said, apologizing that “we don’t know how to fix it.”
Engle also used the gathering to promote upcoming events being organized by The Call, including “Contend America,” a 2018 gathering in Colorado Springs focused on “outrageous contending prayer” and a 2018 event in New York City that is being promoted as part of the “Revival Man Tour.” Another video featured Engle talking about 50 years of the Messianic Jewish movement—Jews who have become Christians. The video called for the unleashing of a messianic awakening among Jewish people. Other speakers prayed for “women in burkas” and persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Beni Johnson and Katherine Ruonala, a healer from Australia, led a healing session in which they declared that people in the audience were being healed of cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, diverticulitis and other conditions. They commissioned women in the audience to preach with “signs and wonders and miracles” as demonstrations of God’s power.
Paul and Denise Goulet were flown in from Las Vegas, where they pastor the International Church of Las Vegas, to make a hard pitch for financial contributions. Paul Goulet is a proponent of Seven Mountains dominionism, which he says he learned from Lance Wallnau, though Goulet has said in his writings that seven is too limiting and he talks about a number of “kingdoms”—spheres of influence in society—that Christians must wage strategic and nonviolent “beautiful war” to take from the “powers and principalities” that now control them. “There is no longer a divide between sacred and secular,” he has written. “Everything can be invaded by the secular.” The Goulets urged the crowd to dig deep, with Paul saying that The Call needs “millions” to carry on its work. He promised that those who gave generously would have their names “listed in heaven.” People were told to give until it hurts, because “if there is no blood, there is no covenant.”
Rise Up was ultimately about energizing Christian women to help unleash a spiritual awakening that organizers hope will “bring America back to God.” Said one speaker, “Today we are reestablishing Jesus as Lord over Washington, D.C., and all the 50 states.”
At the end of the day Jacobs said, “There is a page that has been written in heaven” about what was accomplished on Monday. “Know this,” she said. “You have made history. And you’re going to begin to see it unfold in changes in government.”