The New Apostolic Reformation, an aggressively political movement within Christianity, blames literal demonic beings for the world’s ills and stresses the power of “spiritual warfare” to deliver people and nations from their power. It is rapidly gaining influence in the United States and around the globe, and it aims to advance a right-wing social and economic agenda—all while reinventing the structure of Christianity.
In the late summer of 2000, Rev. Lou Engle, a political activist and Charismatic religious leader, organized an all-day prayer rally in Washington, D.C. As Engle explained later, the event originated in a pressing question that he couldn’t shake: “How can I turn America back to God?” In a dream, Engle “felt overwhelmed by the impossibility” of achieving that goal, but then he saw a vision of a verse from the Bible: “And he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.”1 From that dream, and a subsequent “supernatural series of events,” a giant prayer rally was born. Engle named it TheCall.
By Engle’s account, TheCall drew 400,000 people to the Mall in Washington, D.C., and changed the course of the 2000 election. The prayers of the faithful were answered when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Bush v. Gore decision, giving the election to George W. Bush. On the heels of that success, “the inward voice of the Lord . . . reverberated strongly in his spirit,” and Engle decided to organize a similar event in another city in 2001. At the suggestion of Sam Brownback, now the governor of Kansas and then a Republican U.S. senator, he chose Boston. Brownback had told him that “you need to dig the wells of revival in New England and close the doors to false ideologies that have found entrance through Boston.”2
Since then, Engle has staged more than 20 similar rallies, and each has attracted tens of thousands of participants to stadiums across the U.S. He and his organization have also become deeply involved in U.S. politics, especially in antichoice and antigay organizing. Engle staged TheCall San Diego, for example, the week before the 2008 election, with the explicit purpose of bolstering support for Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative and constitutional amendment that limited the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. Engle’s organization mounted a radio campaign and sent out email and phone blasts in support of Proposition 8, and he urged attendees to be martyrs for the cause.3 James Dobson, founder of the Christian Right organization Focus on the Family, later cited TheCall San Diego as the reason for Proposition 8’s success. 4 In 2010, an estimated 10,000 people attended TheCall Houston, whose purpose was “to contend for the ending of abortion and to spark an adoption revolution.” Antichoice activism was a major focus, as well, of TheCall Detroit in November 2011.5 Read More