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Two Christian Right Prayer Rallies Coming to Washington, D.C. on 26 September

Franklin Graham to lead “Washington Prayer March” at Lincoln Memorial while his sister Anne Graham Lotz to open a “Day of Prayer and Repentance” on the National Mall

From the website of the Washington Prayer March 2020:

Join Franklin Graham For A Prayer March In Our Nation’s Capital

“America is in trouble. Our communities are hurting, our people are divided, and there’s fear and uncertainty all around us. Let’s join together and do the most important thing: pray!”

– Franklin Graham

The Washington Prayer March 2020 event is a dedicated prayer march that is focused solely on asking God to heal our land. It is not a protest or political event, and we are asking participants to not bring signs in support of any candidate or party.

It is hard to take this “non-political” claim at face value: just a few weeks ago, Graham provided an opening prayer at the GOP Convention, and his social media output makes it very clear that he is an enthusiast for Donald Trump and all his works (1). While Billy Graham successfully positioned himself as a national figure (disarming the media) Franklin Graham’s horizons are circumscribed by the values and political priorities of the Christian Right, although he’s careful to present himself as a generic evangelical who is not tied to particular schemes regarding the End Times or beliefs about the activities of demons and such.

The event is scheduled for Saturday 26 September between 12 noon and 2 pm at the Lincoln Memorial, which is interesting given that a day-long Christian Right rally will taking place at the same time on the far side of the Washington Monument in the National Mall. This event, called “The Return: National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance“, describes itself thus:

In the book of Joel, the prophet recognized that the Day of Judgment by God was at hand. He then called for a holy convocation (a solemn assembly) of all people and their leaders to repentance. The Bible gives many examples of solemn assemblies, but its main focus is a special time allotted for the repentence from sin(s) that may invite the judgment of God upon the nation. …The last time our nation was called to a solemn assembly was by Abraham Lincoln. We are long overdue for a time of repentance before God.

In contrast to the Franklin Graham event, “The Return” features an extensive list of Christian Right  and conservative celebrities, including Graham’s sister Anne Graham Lotz as one of the opening guests.

Lotz will appear alongside Johnathan Cahn, the author of several very popular books in which he has claimed that his Jewish heritage gives him special insight into “mysteries” encoded in the Bible that relate to current affairs – thus Hilary Clinton is mystically linked to Jezebel, while Donald Trump is a modern counterpart to the Israelite King Jehu.

The “Faith Leaders” guiding the event include Keven and Sam Sorbo, Pat Boone, E.W. Jackson and William “Jerry” Boykin, although top billing surprisingly goes to “J. Thomas Smith Esq.”, a lesser-known figure who has served as “a Vice-President of Men For Nations, the worldwide ministry of Dick Simmons”. The many participants also include Michele Bachmann and “Congressman Michael Cloud, Judge Vance Day, Governor Huckabee, Ralph Drollinger”, as well as Frank Gaffney and Stephen Strang, owner of the neo-Pentecostal Charisma media operation and the author of God and Donald Trump, which was brandished by Trump himself at Davos in 2018.

Footnote

1. Many people have had fun with the contrast between Graham’s censure of Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky (“If [Clinton] will lie to or mislead his wife… what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?”) and his willingness to shrug off Trump’s transactional sex with the pornographic actress Stormy Daniels (“nobody’s business”). In 2013, Trump was among the figures who appeared in a photo with Billy Graham to celebrate the evangelist’s 95th birthday, alongside the the likes of Sarah Palin and Rupert Murdoch. One commentator suggested that Graham looked less than happy about being “a voiceless prop called upon to lend a sheen of respectability” to such people.