Look out, California, the Religious Right is bringing out the big guns!
That is, James Dobson of the Focus on the Family broadcasting empire has accepted an invitation to attend a prayer rally in San Diego this Saturday as the Religious Right's last attempt to pass Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that would deprive gays and lesbians of the right to marry in California.
The day-long rally – it's really more about politics than prayer -- will bring together supporters of Proposition 8 and Pastor Lou Engle, leader of TheCall movement. Promotional materials say the event will feature, "Corporate prayer and fasting for the protection of traditional marriage and the soul of our nation -- through the upcoming elections and beyond."
Engle's rallies attract young evangelicals to pray and fast in the hopes of stopping the "dark forces," such as legal abortion and same-sex marriage.
Nov. 1 will mark the conclusion of a 40-day fast to pass the amendment. Leader of the "Yes on 8" Campaign, Pastor Jim Garlow of San Diego's Skyline Wesleyan Church, personally invited Colorado resident Dobson to attend the event. Dobson read the invitation aloud on his radio show this morning because he was so "deeply moved."
Garlow explained in his letter that the fight to pass Proposition 8 and rid California of same-sex marriage is an "epic battle for the sanctity of marriage." He said that if Proposition 8 doesn't pass, "marriage will never be the same."
Dobson said after reading Garlow's letter, he felt "as if the Lord put his hand on [his] back and said 'Go.'"
Dobson will appear at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego next to Engle and Garlow.
Engle's last fast and prayer rally was on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to pray for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
Since 2000, Engle has brought together evangelical Christian youth in cities including Las Vegas, Nashville, Cincinnati, Dallas and Los Angeles. Events have also been held across the world in Australia, Germany, the Philippines, Norway, England, Israel and Brazil. Attendance has reached up to 400,000 at these rallies.
The young generation who are part of Engle's movement see themselves as soldiers in a "war" to rid America of its "immorality." The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has linked Engle to a larger, more militant movement called Joel's Army. Members of this movement believe America -- and the rest of the world -- should be ruled by conservative Christians and their interpretation of biblical law.
On a conference call months ago to strategize with nearly 3,000 other pastors across the country on how to pass Proposition 8, Engle said, "This is a spiritual battle; it must be won in prayer. We need to take away the rights of the powers of darkness to bring this kind of resolution forward...."
This melodramatic religious rhetoric has been the backbone of the "Yes on 8" campaign. A few weeks ago, on another conference call, Garlow told a story that made gay marriage out to be worse than terrorism.
Even today, as Garlow appeared as a guest on Dobson's radio show, he continued his outrageous statements about what same-sex marriage means for society.
"I felt like I was watching the destruction of Western civilization," Garlow said of the past year in California.
He continued, "This is not electoral politics to us, this is just biblical...it's the reason the church exists."
These Religious Right leaders clearly are in panic mode. If public opinion polls are accurate, there's a pretty good chance that Proposition 8 may fail, and with it, go their dreams of imposing their doctrinal viewpoint about marriage on everyone in the state.
If Californians believe in church-state separation, they ought to vote against Proposition 8 and tell Dobson, Engle and Company to back off.