A Response to “The Response”
“The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis” was held on Saturday, January 24th at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC). This six-hour prayer rally was fairly controversial. Was it a necessary day for our state to seek its God, or a notorious day when religion and hate intermingled? Having attended the event, I believe I can answer that question.
The Times-Picayune, The Advocate, Time magazine online, and the LSU campus newspaper The Reveille all reported on negative advance responses to holding “The Response”. LSU’s Faculty Senate even got involved, passing a resolution opposing the event by a vote of 15-1. From my reading the majority of the complaints were directed at the American Family Association (AFA), which at least partly funded “The Response”. The main reasons for complaints against the AFA are threefold: (1) that it rejects evolution and promotes creationism in public schools, (2) that it promotes marriage only between one man and one woman, and (3) that it allows their radio host and former spokesperson Bryan Fischer to make provocative statements on such subjects as homosexuality, immigration, and Muslims. The first two complaints accurately reflect the association’s beliefs but, while considered anti-intellectual by its critics, they hardly warrant censure of the AFA. I have looked up several of the accusations involving Fischer and found they are either taken out of context, taken from sources that are not the AFA, or don’t involve official positions endorsed by the AFA. I do agree, though, that AFA needs to curb Fischer’s tendency at times to over-generalize, which can be insensitive and wrong-headed. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that those who opposed the event because of AFA funding simply disagree with AFA’s clearly-stated beliefs, while being tolerant of those who agree with their own.
Another set of charges stem from Governor Jindal’s participation in the event. Obviously, “The Response” could have been planned as a giant political rally to elevate Jindal’s status as a candidate for President in 2016. However, Jindal did nothing to promote himself. No one asked for votes, and Gov. Jindal made clear this event was only about only one person: Jesus. The governor opened “The Response” with a beautiful prayer, and he shared his personal testimony on how he became a Christian. His total time on the stage was only about 30 minutes. The remainder of the time involved everyone else engrossed in worship and in humble, repenting prayer—prayers were even offered for the few hundred protestors outside! Traditional marriage was lifted up (I don’t recall the words “homosexuality” or “same-sex marriage” being used) and the pro-life position was supported. Critics complain that these are political issues that shouldn’t be brought up at a religious gathering, but these were presented as moral issues—not legislative issues—about which all biblical Christians care deeply.
So, was “The Response” worthy of Christians’ attendance? I believe the obvious answer is yes. And I’m convinced the roughly 9,000-10,000– which includes seven others from Lake Vista UMC– who attended the event would agree. (I estimate about 70-75% of the 13,215 capacity of the PMAC was filled at the start, plus many others who streamed in during the six hours.) As I was leaving the PMAC a wise elderly woman said to me that we must go on as prayer warriors. And that should indeed be our goal—to continue praying for our city, our state, our nation, and the world!
Yours in Christ and for Christ,