On Saturday, Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry convened the exclusively Christian “Response” prayer rally in Houston. The event was hosted and sponsored by such radical groups as the American Family Association (AFA)—which is included in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s geographic listing of hate groups—among others. Though the event was explicitly Christian in nature, many attendees and organizers had strong views regarding Jews and Israel—along with theological justifications for the Holocaust.
The International House of Prayer, part-organizers of “The Response,” frequently preaches that Jews must convert to Christianity in order to bring about the return of Jesus Christ. According to Right Wing Watch:
IHOP also propagates an extreme but common view held in many Religious Right circles: that the Jewish people must convert to Christianity in order to bring about the return of Jesus Christ to Earth and the End Times. Many Religious Right groups and activists, including John Hagee, another endorser of The Response, believe that the End Times will only be fulfilled once enough Jews leave their faith and become Christians.
A messianic Jewish representative spoke during the event, and said:
Today Israel is not only back in the land but they are coming to their own Messiah. Tens even hundreds of thousands of Jewish people in the last decades have come to their Messiah. And so Lord we pray for the revival around the world and for Israel to come to their own Messiah.
AFA earned its designation as a hate group because of their unrelenting attacks on the LGBT community, women’s rights, and most progressive policies. They also targeted the Jewish community when they suggested that a Jewish upbringing is linked with “drug use,” “a criminal lifestyle,” and a “hatred of Christians.”
• The president of AFA, Tim Wildmon, recently stated that eternal damnation awaits “not just Jews or Muslims,” but also “anybody that rejects the free gift of salvation through Christ. The Bible teaches there’s heaven and hell. Those who believe go to heaven. Those who don’t go to hell.”
• Bryan Fischer, the AFA director of issue analysis for government and public policy, said that homosexuality “gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
Pastor John Hagee, who has a well-documented history of outrageous comments, also endorsed the rally. He has said that Jews are not “spiritually alive,” and has attempted to theologically justify the Holocaust.
“The Response’s” spokesman Eric Bearse even implied that the event was intended to proselytize:
[A]nyone who comes to this solemn assembly regardless of their faith tradition or background, will feel the love, grace, and warmth of Jesus Christ in that assembly hall, in that arena. And that’s what we want to convey, that there’s acceptance and that there’s love and that there’s hope if people will seek out the living Christ. And that’s the message we want to spread on August 6th.
“The Response” clearly illustrated that Perry aligns himself with some of the most extreme religious conservatives instead of promoting religious pluralism. His leadership of the event proves that he is not concerned with the values of most American Jews and is not someone who is ready to represent all Americans.
Click here to read NJDC’s statement on “The Response.”
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