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Dispatches from the front lines of Perry’s political revival

Photo: Photos by Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Photos by Michael Barajas

Organizers said over 30,000 attended the Perry-prompted prayer rally in Houston’s Reliant Stadium Saturday, dubbed “The Response.”

Photo: , License: N/A

Dozens of protesters took to the sidewalks outside “The Response” Saturday, claiming Perry’s event blurred the lines between church and state.

With his initiation of and presence at the Response, Perry showed his true colors, Hilton said. Perry was a political figure who wouldn’t tone down his evangelical faith. “He’s not afraid to say this nation is having an identity crisis, and we need to turn back to God, to Jesus Christ.”

Despite a whirlwind of controversy surrounding Hagee’s own stance on a host of issues, including past statements that God used the Holocaust to draw Jews back to Israel and that the Catholic Church is the “whore of Babylon,” the San Antonio pastor took to the pulpit Saturday to deliver a fiery prayer to the cheering crowd. In it, he lauded Perry for his role in the revival, in the fashioning of a new America, saying, “We pray for our governor Rick Perry, who has had the courage today to call this time of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the Civil War. We thank you for his leadership, his integrity, and his loyalty to God and country.”

As his presidential run appears ever more imminent (reportedly, the official word could come as soon as this weekend), it’s a message Perry doesn’t appear to be avoiding. And the influence of evangelical ideology, even that of the fringe, won’t dissipate now that the Response has come and gone. As Politico first reported last week, the governor’s set for a Hill Country retreat hosted by prominent San Antonio billionaire Jim Leininger (who Molly Ivins called “the Daddy Warbucks of Texas social conservatism” and the Current knows simply as “God’s Sugar Daddy”) at the end of this month. Along with other confidants and social conservatives at the retreat will be WallBuilders’ founder David Barton, a speaker at Saturday’s event and a pseudo-historian popular with conservative politicians drawn to (or courting) the religious right. You know. People like Perry. The left-leaning People for the American Way recently drafted a scathing report on Barton, quoting modern academics who say Barton’s studies fusing religion and history are highly misleading and warning of Barton’s “growing visibility and influence with members of Congress and other Republican Party officials.”

In our conversation, AFA’s Fischer scoffed at claims from the left that, given the sponsors and leaders of Perry’s event, the Response excluded not only other religions but also other more moderate permutations of Christianity. “Everybody was invited here, we don’t care who you are. This is the most inclusive event in America today,” he said.

Yes, everyone’s invited to take part in this new America, one steeped in the influence of some of the most controversial figures in modern American Christianity.

Capping the Response Saturday, religious leaders called for the crowd to help spark the “Third Great Awakening in American history.” Bickle, with the Kansas City International House of Prayer, urged the crowd to help “transform every sphere of society with the glory of God,” including media, the marketplace, and the nation’s education system. But most of all, to help refashion government in the image of their God. •

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