Rick Perry's Religious Revival Sparks A Holy War The Republican Texas governor, who is widely expected to enter the race for the White House, says Saturday's event is nothing more than a Christian prayer rally. His critics, however, say it is Jesus-exclusive and political. The event is sponsored by an organization that some consider a hate group because of its anti-gay agenda.
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Rick Perry's Religious Revival Sparks A Holy War

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Rick Perry's Religious Revival Sparks A Holy War

Rick Perry's Religious Revival Sparks A Holy War

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Here's NPR's John Burnett.

JOHN BURNETT: Late last year, shortly after he won his third term, Rick Perry began to envision the event that they're now calling The Response.

MONTAGNE: With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis, and people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need God's help. That's why I'm calling on Americans to pray and fast like Jesus did.

BURNETT: Perry invited all of his fellow governors. Sam Brownback of Kansas initially accepted, but he's now backing away. His office says Brownback is on vacation, and if he goes, it's at his discretion and on his dime.

POST: James Dobson founded Focus on the Family but is no longer associated with the group. He is a Family Talk radio broadcaster.]

MONTAGNE: Other names on the list of coordinators and endorsers have raised eyebrows.

MONTAGNE: I mean, when you're talking the religious right, this is the fringe of the fringe here.

BURNETT: Dan Quinn is communications director for the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin-based watchdog group that tracks the far right in Texas.

MONTAGNE: This is - clearly - when you look at it, kind of a combination of religious extremism and naked partisan politics, all in one. And I think it's probably one of the most cynical displays of using faith as a political tool that we've seen in a long time.

BURNETT: Other participants are John Hagee, a San Antonio evangelist whose endorsement John McCain rejected in 2008 because of Hagee's anti-Catholic statements; Mike Bickle, a founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, who's called Oprah Winfrey a pastor of the harlot of Babylon; and then there's John Benefiel, head of the Oklahoma-based Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network.

D: Do you know there's a statue in New York Harbor called the Statue of Liberty? You know where we got it from? French freemasons. Listen, folks: That is an idol, a demonic idol, right there in the middle of New York Harbor.

BURNETT: But wait - organizers say don't condemn an event before it happens.

D: We do need to come together to pray and to seek the Lord on behalf of our nation. And if we can do that without being against anything, then I will be pleased to be a part of it.

BURNETT: Doug Stringer runs a Christian world outreach ministry in Houston, called Somebody Cares. Stringer says he only agreed to be an organizer if they guaranteed there will no long-winded sermons or political speeches.

D: And so as a result, they have allowed me to be a part - of being a prayer captain to make sure that if anything begins to go off track, to what I feel like it should be focused on the Lord and prayer and worship, then I can come to the microphone and kind of give redirection to it.

BURNETT: John Burnett, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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