In August 2011, the Response Rally took place in Reliance Stadium in Houston, Texas, which I had the dubious pleasure of live-blogging. The gathering, promoted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was intended as a day of Christian prayer in the midst of economic decline and "moral relativism". Sponsored by the American Family Association and the International House of Prayer, the Response Rally featured a plethora of anti-gay and anti-abortion speakers from the Religious Right, including James and Shirley Dobson, John Hagee, Mike Bickle, Alveda King, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, and Rick Perry himself. Now, Louisiana plans to host its own Response Rally.
The Response Louisiana is scheduled to take place on January 24th, 2015 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. According to the Response website, the gathering will be a time for "humility and repentance" as worshipers ask God to intervene in America's struggles.
"We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially, or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles. The Response: Louisiana is committed to prayer above politics, to seeing the church moved to stand for righteousness, and to pray for God’s mercy for America.The front page of the Response website describes just what is wrong with America, according to its organizers.
According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and repentance and ask God to intervene. The Response will be another historic gathering of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America."
"America is in the midst of a historic crisis. We are besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. Our nation is faced with fatherless homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our inner cities, a saturation of pornography in our homes, abortion, and racism."Right Wing Watch recently brought attention to a Response Louisiana prayer guide, which gives readers a taste of the rally's right-wing tone. The guide insists that sin has intensified to a level never before seen in America, thanks to abortion, LGBTQ rights, adult entertainment, and "apostasy". I would argue that America was the setting for far more heinous sins in the past, including slavery, conquest, and ethnocide. Do the prayer guide authors really think that LGBTQ equality and reproductive rights are so monstrous as to dwarf these national sins?
"We have watched sin escalate to a proportion the nation has never seen before. We live in the first generation in which the wholesale murder of infants through abortion is not only accepted but protected by law. Homosexuality has been embraced as an alternative lifestyle. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington, D.C. Pornography is available on-demand through the internet. Biblical signs of apostasy are before our very eyes. While the United States still claims to be a nation “under God” it is obvious that we have greatly strayed from our foundations in Christianity."A host of New Apostolic Reformation figures are featured in promotional videos for the Response Louisiana, including Jim and Rosemary Garlow, Cindy Jacobs of Generals International, and Jennifer LeClaire of Charisma Magazine (yes, that Jennifer LeClaire) . Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal has also launched a promotional video for the rally, in which he promised a spiritual revival that could put America back on track. "What we really need in these United States is a spiritual revival," he said. "It is time to turn back to God."
As Right Wing Watch has observed, Bobby Jindal has been wooing the Religious Right as of late, possibly in preparation for the 2016 election. Will the Response Louisiana provide him with enough allies on the Religious Right to be a political contender? Or will it fail to provide him with sufficient political momentum, as was the case with Rick Perry after the first Response Rally? Will ties to anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion figures earn him friends among conservatives, or only serve to alienate liberal and moderate voters?