Having shared excerpts from TheCall Detroit on November 11th, I'd like to conclude with some parting observations about the rally. Behind the spiritual ecstasy and prayer were startling messages about politics and religion.
First, Lou Engle justified TheCall Detroit by weaving it into a spiritual narrative. For example, in Part II of TheCall Detroit video archive, he described a dream he had in which he told fellow IHOP leader Mike Bickle, "We're going to Ford Field." Since Engle frequently interprets dreams as harbingers of cosmic portent, a dream about Ford Field would give TheCall Detroit legitimacy in the eyes of his followers.
Engle insisted that he'd had reservations about hosting an expensive gathering at Ford Field. At the 1:42:48 mark of Part II, he defended his choice of venue.
"I didn't want necessarily to come to Ford Field, because it costs a million dollars, and I thought, God, if I had a million dollars, I could feed the poor of Detroit. I could buy some buildings for the poor. Now I wrestled with it in my heart. I've actually said, "God, you know"-- then I thought, you know, probably no other place could house this many people. [Applause] No, no, don't go there."This quote was heartbreaking. Engle knew that the money used to rent a venue for TheCall Detroit could have helped the less fortunate in concrete ways. He knew how much good that money could do in an economically disadvantaged city like Detroit. And yet, he chose to host another rally instead. Why did the desire to host another public spectacle take precedent over the moral imperative to help those in need? Because, I suspect, the goal of TheCall Detroit was to promote certain political messages through public spectacle.
As with many other New Apostolic Reformation gatherings, TheCall Detroit blended spiritual and political messages. Amidst praise for God and calls for racial reconciliation were anti-abortion monologues, pro-Israel messages, and anti-Islam rhetoric. Indeed, TheCall Detroit's calls for racial reconciliation -- as hollow as some of them might have sounded -- may have served a deeper political purpose. In an exhaustive commentary at Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen speculated that the TheCall Detroit was intended to draw African-American voters away from the Democratic party before the 2012 elections. Besen imagined their strategy as such.
1) Pick a key swing state with a beleaguered city that had an economically disadvantaged African American population.Besen was alarmed at "the conformity of the crowd and the ease in which they were led" at TheCall Detroit, no matter what strange ideas were being promoted. The atmosphere at TheCall Detroit might be partially to blame for this, in my opinion. Amidst the hypnotic drone of worship music and the rapture of communal prayer, receptive attendees would have found it easy to enter a altered state of consciousness and leave critical thought at the door. As Besen observed, the ecstasy of such communal experiences can be as powerful as a drug.
2) Create an emotional spectacle where tearful white people pleaded for forgiveness and repented onstage for past racism.
3) Sharply define new wedge issue(s) and create a racially-based conspiracy theory that could ultimately be used against the Democratic Party.
4) Exploit these emerging wedge issue(s) to the point they become more important than fixing the economy.
5) Redefine voting criteria so candidates are primarily judged by where they stand on these wedge issue(s) – with the ultimate goal of leading many African Americans to conclude that they are best represented by the conservative GOP.
"...[T]he “highs” produced at Ford Field occurred without psychedelic drugs such as mushrooms or ecstasy. But make no mistake about it, this was no less a mental manipulation designed to flood brains with endorphins that induce an unnatural euphoria."Having watched several segments of TheCall Detroit and listened to the rhetoric about reconciliation, I was struck by who wasn't at the table: LGBTs and Muslims. While TheCall Detroit was brimming with rhetoric about repentance for racism and anti-Semitism, I heard no repentance for homophobia or animosity toward Muslims. After all, why repent for homophobia when you've demonized homosexuality as "spiritual bondage" or "sexual immorality"? Why repent for antipathy toward Muslims when you've cast them as rivals and fifth columns? Similarly, I heard no calls for reconciliation between Christians, Jews, and Muslims, as much as interfaith dialogue is needed in these times. Instead, Kamal Saleem cast Islam in ominous shadows.
Fortunately, some observers criticized the divisive messages of TheCall Detroit. For example, USA Today reported that about 150 people participated in a demonstration against Lou Engle and TheCall Detroit. Clergy, women's rights advocates, and supporters of LGBT rights reportedly took part in the demonstration. In a press release at People for the American Way, Rev. Charles Williams II of Detroit's King Solomon Baptist Church condemned Engle's divisive rhetoric and urged people of faith to work together.
In an interview with WXYZ 7, Dawud Walid of CAIR accused TheCall of making hateful statements about Islam, including claims that Muslims are demon-possessed. Walid told mosques to increase security during the rally weekend and warned Muslims to stay away from Ford Field because of "belligerent" and "provocative" people who might be there. Also, he encouraged Muslims to attend a gathering at the Islamic Center of America and discuss Islamophobia and racism there.
The New Apostolic Reformation has revealed an unsettling agenda through events such as TheCall Detroit. Those who cherish diversity and dialogue cannot afford to ignore them.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Truth Wins Out: TWO Special Report: TheCall Detroit -- A Slick Political Revival Disguised as a Religious Revival
One Utah: The Religious Right's Cheap Grace and Even Cheaper Repentance
Huffington Post: TheCall Detroit Mixes Anti-Muslim Rhetoric With Message Of Racial Reconciliation
Huffington Post: Detroit Prayer Event Puts Muslim Community on Edge