TheCall Aviva took place on September 1st, 2012 at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California. The event was a prayer gathering hosted by Aviva, "a Hispanic-led prayer movement for revival" according to its website. Now that TheCall's website features a video archive of its past rallies, I was able to watch several segments of TheCall Aviva.
Prominent among the TheCall Aviva 2012 speakers were two New Apostolic Reformation preachers: Cindy Jacobs of Generals International and Lou Engle of TheCall and the International House of Prayer. Amidst Jacobs' and Engle's bombastic messages about idolatry, demons, and prophesy, one could detect a strong anti-abortion undercurrent. Much of Jacobs and Engle's talks were characterized by unvarnished attempts to recruit Hispanics into anti-abortion activism. TheCall Aviva was not the first time Engle in particular had spoken of race and abortion in the same breath (see here
), so an event linking anti-abortion activism and Hispanic identity was a natural outgrowth of Engle's ministry. To shed light on the racial and abortion-related themes at TheCall Aviva, I have shared several quotes from Jacobs' and Engle's talks.
First, at a "PreCall" gathering, Cindy Jacobs acknowledged the racism and struggles faced by Hispanics in the U.S. However, she claimed that God would grant Hispanics immigration reform in exchange for their opposition to abortion. At the 2:21 mark of the PreCallAviva 02 video, Jacobs had this to say.
"The Holy Spirit showed me clearly that as the Latino community moved to a pro-life position and took a stand for righteousness and justice, that God would begin to give justice in immigration. And we're seeing it happen, aren't we?"
At the 5:20 mark, Jacobs told the audience that Hispanics would be a seminal force in ending abortion in California and the country as a whole.
"There's going to be in word, in deed, not just word, that Latinos are pro-life. Something new is beginning here in this nation, here in California. It's so historic, and it will be said, says the Lord, that this was the generation that stopped abortion. And it will be said that the Latino community, you were the key to stopping abortion."
Jacobs urged listeners to donate money to TheCall, insisting that some people would be called by God to "give largely". She prayed to God to "anoint your people to give" to TheCall for the sake of immigration reform and anti-abortion activism. "How much do you want California to turn?" she asked. "How much do you want the Latinos to arise? Then you give in proportion to your need. You give in proportion to what you want God to do."
Jacobs would continue to preach about abortion (the "shedding of innocent blood") at the Aviva rally itself. At the 8:37 mark of the Aviva 06 video, Jacobs attributed the ascendancy of abortion to idolatry and "Baal worship" among the Mayans. She blamed California's economic dire straits to the proliferation of sins in the state.
"We want to overthrow the culture of death, but in order to overthrow the culture of death, we need to understand there was an ancient sin that brought the culture of death. It was called the shedding of innocent blood. And the shedding of innocent blood opened up something in the heavens that allowed abortion to come in, and the Mayans worshiped in a way the sun, but death. It was really that Baal worship, and that's the strongman, and we have come to this point of worship in communion where we have the sword of the Lord. We have authority now to pull down the stronghold. Leviticus 18:25 says that because of these ancient sins -- idolatry, sexual sin of all kinds, and even shedding of innocent blood -- Biblically we understand that the Bible says that the land will vomit out its inhabitants. So therefore, the land cannot prosper. Let's think of California today. Cities going bankrupt! Listen to me! City after city going bankrupt! Could it be that the cup of iniquity is full?"
Jacobs prayed for California to become a "pro-life state" so that its spiritual power would "cancel out the shedding of innocent blood". At the 11:04 mark of the Aviva 06 video, she claimed that Hispanics have unique spiritual influence against abortion, given the Mayan and Aztec blood in some of their lineages (!).
"We know that the Mayans have come this way, and many Latinos are descendants of the Mayans or Aztecs, so there's great authority today to take down the culture of death."
Lou Engle, overflowing with anti-abortion enthusiasm, spoke at several points during the Aviva gathering. Blood seemed to preoccupy him, as his speeches brimmed with talk of the blood of Jesus, the "bloodshed" of abortion, and the blood spilled in ancient human sacrifices. For example, at the 1:32 mark of the Aviva 04 video, Engle spoke of abortion in the same breath as drug cartel violence and street crime.
"We're entering into this moment, and it many ways its a centerpiece of why we've come here. We have come to break the death culture over the Hispanic world and community. We are going to bring the blood of Jesus to bear on the bloodshed of drug cartels, on the bloodshed of innocent murders in the streets, on the bloodshed of aborted babies, millions of them. There is a better blood today than the blood of those babies. They cry for justice and judgment."
Engle showed a slide on-screen that read "The World's Largest Abortion Clinic Targeting Latinos & Black Americans". The slide showed a reproductive health clinic next to an ancient Aztec temple where human sacrifice took place. At the 5:00 mark of the Aviva 04 video, Engle correlated abortion with ancient Aztec human sacrifice, insisting that "it's the same temple".
"On the right we see an Aztec temple. Blood sacrifices were done in full human view. On the left is a similar kind of structure. It's the largest abortion facility in the western hemisphere. Six stories high. It is in the middle of three Hispanic neighborhoods and one African-American neighborhood. The ancient temple is rising again. You can't see the bloodshed in the one on the left, but God sees the bloodshed ... Today, we have sanitized our sacrifices."
Engle warned his Hispanic listeners that abortion clinics were in their neighborhoods, anguished that "thousands and thousands of your people are going there". He spoke at length about how the "shedding of innocent blood" through abortion appalls God, and how God will demand judgment for such bloodshed. He cited Numbers 35:33
-- "Do not pollute the land where you are; bloodshed pollutes the land" -- urging Hispanics to repudiate abortion. At the 11:48 mark of the Aviva 04 video, Engle compared Hispanic immigrants to the chosen people of the Bible immigrating to a new land.
"This passage was spoken to a people that were immigrating into another land. When you enter into the land, don't offer your children and the blood of your babies. Hispanics immigrated into California. There was righteousness on you. There was family in you. There was the fire of revival in you, but we begin to worship the gods of California, and people in the church offered up their babies' blood, and California--the land is polluted with blood and it demands a day of reckoning."
Outrageously, Engle claimed that abortion is a form of child sacrifice to demons. Engle has made similar claims
about abortion before at TheCall Detroit
, the Prayer and Prophetic Conference
, and Russia IHOP
, as have other anti-abortion activists (see here
). At the 13:35 mark, he claimed that "witches and warlocks" understand the relationship between abortion and demons far better than many preachers.
"Brothers and sisters, the offering of our children in abortion is actually to demons. Abortion is fueling the demonization of a whole culture. Why do the witches and warlocks understand this more than the pulpits of America? Where is the preaching of the prophets in the pulpits telling the people that we're offering our children to demons?"
In conclusion, TheCall Aviva tried to recruit Hispanics into anti-abortion activism by linking anti-abortion attitudes to Hispanic identity. Abortion was depicted as an alleged threat to the Hispanic community and a sin hearkening back to their ancestors' practice of human sacrifice. Magnetic preachers compared Hispanic immigrants to the chosen people of yore, promising that if they condemned abortion, God would bless their community with immigration reform and a prosperous land.
This use of race rhetoric struck me as cynical. Instead of contributing to the discussion of reproductive issues and the Hispanic community, Jacobs and Engle talked about demons and Aztec sacrifices. Instead of focusing on real ways to bring about immigration reform, Jacobs promised it as a divine bribe in exchange for anti-abortion activism. This simplistic appeal to race suggests a simplistic understanding of the issues facing Hispanics.
Finally, TheCall Aviva's approach to abortion left no room for the messy complexities of real life. Abortion was branded as murder of innocents, a sin that defiles the land, and an idolatrous sacrifice to demons, but never as a complex social issue deserving of debate. The causes of unwanted pregnancies, the need for medically necessary abortions, and women's reasons for seeking abortions were neglected in favor of black-and-white rhetoric. By demonizing abortion, Jacobs and Engle made meaningful discussion of abortion impossible.
Jacobs and Engle have their sights set on Hispanics as the next wave of anti-abortion Christians. The question is, will the Hispanic community take the bait?
For more information about Aviva, click here
To watch video recordings of TheCall Aviva or other TheCall gatherings, click here