As Tuesday's deadline to influence
undecided voters on Proposition 8 – the ballot initiative that
seeks to forbid gay marriage in California – nears, Christian
fundamentalists are planning a twelve-hour prayer session in support
of the gay marriage ban.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of
people are expected to converge on San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium for a
day-long event of praying and fasting in support of social
conservative issues including gay marriage bans in California,
Arizona and Florida and limits on abortion (Prop 4).
Focus on the Family Founder and
Chairmam James Dobson revealed on Wednesday that he would participate
in TheCall, as the event is known.
“It is not a festival, it is a fast,”
Dobson told his radio listeners on Wednesday. “It's a day of
concerted prayer from 10 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at
TheCall is the brainchild of former
pastor Lou Engle, who organized the first Christian power-pray event
in 2000, drawing 400,000 faithful to Washington D.C.
“This is a spiritual battle; it must
be won in prayer,” Engle said in a conference call uniting 3,000
pastors to strategize against gay marriage in California. “We need
to take away the rights of the powers of darkness to bring this kind
of resolution forward.”
Rev. Jim Garlow, who has taken a
leadership role in organizing the anti-gay marriage religious forces
in California, asked Engle to come to San Diego and organize
Saturday's event. Garlow, who currently heads the Skyline Wesleyan
Church in La Mesa, California, also wrote to Dobson asking for his
Saturday's event is on the concluding
day of a 40-day fast called for by Garlow in support of the gay
In the letter he wrote to Dobson,
Garlow said the fight to rid California of gay marriage is an “epic
battle for the sanctity of marriage.” He said that without the gay
marriage ban, “marriage will never be the same.” Garlow has also
linked gay marriage with the “destruction of Western civilization.”
On his radio program, Dobson said he
was “deeply moved” by Garlow's appeal.
TheCall has drawn up to 400,000
evangelical Christian youth to various cities – Las Vegas, Dallas
and Los Angeles included.
But while organizers describe the event
as non-political – “We're not there to make a political
statement,” said Engle – proponents of gay marriage say it's
clearly an anti-gay political rally.
“Clearly the focus is on taking away
this right [to gay marriage],” said Dale Kelly Bankhead, a No-On-8
spokeswoman. “It seems political to us.”
But worse, The Southern Poverty Law
Center (SPLC), a group that tracks hate groups in America, has linked
Engle to Joel's Army, a militant Christian fundamentalist group that
advocates for the replacement of the American government with
pro-Christian leaders that observe strict biblical laws.
James Dobson's attendance at the
Saturday event is certain to increase its visibility and appeal among
evangelical Christians. Dobson continues his reign as America's
biggest advocate against gay and lesbian unions. His Christian
broadcasting empire has donated millions to ban gay marriage in
California, and his touring conference Love Won Out, which
seeks to “cure” gay men and lesbian women from their gay
identities, remains controversial.