Anti-Abortion Prayer, Politics and Tornadoes from God Raise Spirits at Pastor Lou Engle's Rally

Categories: Events, Religion

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All photos by Taryn Walker

By 7:15 on Thursday night, women were already crying. By 7:30, a few were speaking in tongues, their arms raised heavenward, or kneeling in the chilly concrete aisles of the Dallas Convention Center's Area Hall C. Onstage, a muscular, clean-cut guy with sandy hair and a black V-neck T-shirt strummed an amplified acoustic guitar. Enormous screens flanking the stage flashed his image across the vast room, built to hold about 5,000, which was a little less than half-full.

"You're altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me," the guy sang. A small army of girls in "Choose Life" T-shirts gazed adoringly back.

A few weeks ago, we told you Pastor Lou Engle was coming to town to hold an all-women anti-abortion rally, just a few months after he and several other members of his group TheCall were heavily involved in Rick Perry's prayer-palooza The Response. Unlike many of the youth-oriented rallies TheCall puts on, this one didn't fixate on the "sexual insanity" (Engle's words) of homosexuality, an issue Engle is so obsessed with he even visited Uganda to support the anti-gay laws there. Instead, during both a three-hour prayer service Thursday night and one that stretched over eight hours on Good Friday, the focus was on ending both abortion and "Obamacare" through prayer.

Engle made the rally's mixture of political and supernatural purposes clear when he bounded onstage Thursday night. "Arise, oh God, and scatter your enemies!" he roared at the crowd, who screamed back in response. "Give yourself to God!" Engle is a large man with a bristly, greying mustache; he never speaks in anything other than a husky, throaty roar, and he constantly sways forwards and backwards as he preaches.

"We didn't gather here to have a nice little worship service!" he informed the crowd. "We're actually creating a throne," he explained, to contain God and the "angelic hosts by the thousands" who would be attending the rally. Many of them, he said, had come with 39 women, part of an organization called Back To Life, who had just walked from Houston to Dallas to protest legal abortion's roots in Texas.

"Who would have guessed that when they crossed over the county line of Dallas, 12 tornadoes exploded," Engle cried. "And no deaths!" The tornadoes, the hail, the grounded planes at the airport -- all of this, he told the women and girls and more than a few men in the crowd -- were a sign that God would hear the prayers of those assembled, and use them to influence worldly affairs.

"What happens tonight could actually shift the Supreme Court of Earth," Engle told his audience. "God is on his throne tonight. Tonight the scepter of the king gets stretched out. You're not here for a good time. You're actually here to move heaven, and we believe that will take place."

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Lou Engle, right

Rhetoric like this, which blends the political and the spiritual so thoroughly it's hard to tell where one stops and the other begins, is par for the course for Engle, TheCall, and a host of other similar groups, including the International House of Prayer, which had a heavy presence at both the Esther Call and the Response. They're all part of a charismatic Christian movement called New Apostolic Reformation, which, among other things, is heavily concerned with getting its followers into positions of power in American politics, business, and culture. It's all in preparation for the end of days, which participants at the Esther Call seemed certain were almost upon us.

The rally was named for an Old Testament heroine who saved the Jewish people from being destroyed; the "Esthers" present at the rally, as women were referred to, were repeatedly told that their job was to help save humanity from destruction by ending the "culture of death" around abortion.

"Our main intention is to bring healing and repentance to the people in the room first," said Christy Carlson, 26. "Then we ask God to end abortion in our nation and send revival and healing to women who have experienced abortion." That included birth control and emergency contraception, she said.

Carlson, who had long blonde hair, a trendy string of large turquoise beads around her neck, and a low-key way of speaking, is an "intercessionary missionary" at the Dallas chapter of International House of Prayer (yes, IHOP), located in Farmer's Branch. It's technically known as the House of Zerubbabel, or HOZ for short. Missionaries pray full-time, she said, offering up a mixture of devotional prayers and pleas for "intercession for our city."

Carlson also explained that legal abortion had created "a blood guilt in our nation."

"Innocent blood has been spilled," she said matter-of-factly. "God demands justice. We're here to cry out for God to extend mercy to our nation." But if that didn't happen, she said, "there could be a judgment," something she believes is already occurring. She pointed to what she called the "economic and geopolitical shaking" throughout the world as "an effort of God to ignite repentance."

All of this wouldn't be out of place on an episode of The 700 Club, where Pat Robertson and his ilk have long been criticized for blaming natural disasters on things like feminism and abortion. But what's fascinating about IHOP and TheCall events is the youth of the participants. All the IHOP staffers, many of the speakers onstage and most of the attendees were young, trendy, even dreadlocked and or lightly tattooed. Engle has found a way to make steely, hard-line religious fundamentalism attractive to young people. The vibe of the Esther Call -- purplish lighting, a pop/rock-esque backing band, a smoke machine -- resembled nothing so much as a rock concert.

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But again and again, the army of speakers onstage reminded the audience of the event's true purpose.

"Close those fear clinics, Lord," one woman prayed into the microphone, the cameras magnifying her image. "Close every abortion clinic in this nation. Remove the money from Planned Parenthood. Strip them of our money. Give money back to the adoption movement in the United States." Another woman prayed for each Supreme Court justice in turn, asking that they all be rendered anti-abortion.

"Thank God for the Texas Legislature," added another woman, part of a long parade of speakers who came onstage, said a few words, and disappeared without introduction. "And thank God for Rick Perry. I want you to know that you put them in office," she told the crowd, who cheered wildly. "And they are moving heaven and Earth."


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39 comments
BrwnEydOT31
BrwnEydOT31

There is absolutely no use arguing with individuals whose heart are hardened to the truth...abortion is murder. It is not only murder to the unborn baby, it also creates a slow-death that the post-abortive woman calls every life...a life that she feels like just giving up on because she lost someone...her very own child, the one she was meant to nurture and love and protect and take silly pictures with and cherish...and once the reality of that sets in (which for me literally happened one week post-abortion) she is left broken with an over-whelming sadness and is left grieving the loss of her baby...not grieving the loss of an "it" or as a "pencil point" or a "blob of cells" as the abortion clinic workers referred to the baby as. I'm sorry that many individual's responding to this article are ignorant to the above stated but regardless if you think our pain is so silly...that our God is so silly...etc. why are you wasting your time lashing out about the event and making derogatory comments? You know I am not here to tell you how real my God is...or how He changed my life...how he took away the pain of my abortion...or how he set me free from the shame and depression...but you know what at the same time I am and you can say what you want but my life is a living testimony to the above. And you know what I don't care what you think about that!  I thank the Lord for The Esther Call and for what they are doing to bring light to the pain of the abortion-wounded woman and the healing they are praying over our country. There is no use arguing with people about my beliefs because the issue at heart...literally...is one's heart. And if your heart isn't ready to receive...if your heart is hardened to the Lord...words won't make it pliable.  

Williamatpeace
Williamatpeace

When are we going to stop lying to ourselves and finally admit what we all know: "human rights" start at conception.

Sam
Sam

Life begins when the child can breathe on their own, honey, and isn't dependent on another human being.  

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Why do people get abortion on the brain every election cycle? It's been legal for ever.

Williamatpeace
Williamatpeace

only since 1973. I think that's where we lost our minds.

Just
Just

What a bunch of insane doubletalk. Literally, it's a pile of holy crap.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Their understanding of God is so limited. I feel sorry for them. God did not send tornadoes to Dallas because of abortion. He sent them because he also sent a cool front that occluded a warm, moist section of air.

Now, maybe if an abortion clinic or two had wondered off into the sky, instead of churches, schools and God-fearing Christians' homes---then I would have pause. But Planned Parenthood is still standing, and there is at least one less church. Want to explain THAT?Idiots who embarrass themselves for the Lord for no reason.

I will pray for them to get wisdom in God's eyes to pray for birth control and comprehensive sex ed in schools to PREVENT abortions by PREVENTING unwanted pregnancies. Again, idiots.

Cm
Cm

Lou Engle wasn't saying that God brought the tornadoes because of abortion. He was pointing out that God protected people from the tornadoes. The women walking in protest were directly in the path of one of the tornadoes, but were saved by the grace of God. Don't believe everything you see in the media. After all, you weren't there to experience it yourself anyways. Perception is reality...

Powerchurch
Powerchurch

Hey, I was in South Dallas when the sirens were going off. I'm an atheist. Maybe my lack of belief protected me.

Brad
Brad

 Were you there to experience God saving these people or are you just taking Mr. Engle's word?

Cm
Cm

Not just his word, but the word of the 39 other walkers in protest

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

God does not play "parlor tricks" with tornadoes. Since nobody in Dallas knew they were "crossing into Dallas County," their warped view of God is not only NOT Biblical, it is heresy.

Sa
Sa

There's a degree of nuttiness here that just defies description.  Blood guilt?  Wow.

I don't see an estimate of the crowd in the article.  I wonder how many people actually attended?

And, for the record, I'm a woman, and I don't feel damaged in any way by abortion, birth control, or emergency contraception.  Although must admit I've only experienced bc.

J.M
J.M

Clearly, the author is a very talented journalist and I am by no means criticizing  her style of writing but she did fail to mention a very important piece of information. This group included many post aborted women who, like you, thought they would not feel damaged by their decision to abort until it was too late. Many women at his gathering were there searching for peace and forgiveness to release some of the pain and guilt they feel for murdering their own child/children in a place where they could be free to cry out with no judgement. I believe they found what they were searching for.Unless you have made that decision, I cant imagine how you can be certain that you would not be damaged. I pray that you will never have to.

Lauren
Lauren

You believe you found what they were looking for?? You, in literally the exact same sentence, called them murderers but insisted they came to a place where they would not be judged. 

J.M
J.M

Yes, I said exactly what I meant to say. Women, like myself, who believed the lie that it was a choice that would not affect them and later found out it affected them more than they could have ever imagined. I called it murder because that is a fact, not judgement.  Stating a fact about someone is not judging. I only knew that by their own testimony. Assuming I know something more about them like why they did it, how may times, what type of person they are for doing it, based on the fact is judging.And yes, again, I do believe they found exactly what they were looking for.  

Powerchurch
Powerchurch

but of course, it's totally alright to bomb little kids in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where are you greedy, corporate false Christians when it comes to standing up to war? Why do my tax dollars have to fund the destruction of Arab babies? Why don't I get a say in that?

Your fearless leader praises the deathcult satanic leadership of Uganda(!) over that of the supposedly freedom loving United States. And you cheer him on all because you hate gay people???

Jessica, I hate to break it you but you're worshipping a false god.

J.M
J.M

No, Im certain that I never, in any way, stated that I believe its alright to bomb any children, anywhere. I am not in any way greedy and dont really understand why you would assume that I was. I am not a "false Christian" I am a Christian. I do not believe that our tax dollars should fund the destruction of innocent Arab babies anymore than I believe they should fund the destruction of the unborn babies here or in any other country. Lou Engle is not my "fearless leader" God is. I absolutely do however stand behind and respect his work in raising voices and revealing truth about abortion. Truth that it is not an easy fix and that most woman who believe the lie that it is, deal with depression, guilt and pain all of their life because of it. This event was not a cult like group following some radical leader. It was a group of woman who are desperate and  passionate about seeing the day that this country stops pretending these babies dont deserve a chance at life! I cant imagine where in the world you would get that I hate gay people because I went to a Pro-Life prayer event but you are very mistaken. Im very happy to break it to you  "Powerchurch" the God I worship is as real as it gets and He absolutely loves me-the post aborted, you-the atheist and gay people as well.

Ed D.
Ed D.

The article says "the vast room, built to hold about 5,000, [...] was a little less than half-full."

RTGolden
RTGolden

First thing that popped into my head when reading this?  "Would Jesus wear a Rolex" by Ray Stevens.

I can't stand the evangelical movement.  Their ignorance is right out there for the world to see, in their self-proclaimed titles, Intercessionary Missionaries??  Anyone that steeped in the doctrine should know that intercession is akin to idolatry, not to mention claiming to be able to intercede on the behalf of mankind in the face of God would probably be a commission of one of the seven deadlies.

Praise for Perry?  Vomit.

Brad
Brad

ERM MER GERD these people are stupid

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

he may have saved lives as they crossed into dallas county but then why did he cost us billions in insurance losses and take homes from people

Powerchurch
Powerchurch

What's up with these guys? God creates a tornado storm when they walk into Dallas...but God, of course, has nothing to do with it when a tornado wipes out a church.

Williamatpeace
Williamatpeace

Perhaps HE does send tornadoes to wipe out churches that tragically condone abortion or raise the value of property above the lives of others i.e. Treyvon. You're on point with that challenge Powerchurch.  

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

That's what drives me nuts. "Thank God nobody was killed!" Yeah, but God is cool with 300 homes getting destroyed and the emotional damage of that?

Bittershite
Bittershite

Obviously every person affected by the tornadoes was an abortion doctor, duh.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

All I got from that was God sounds like an ass when presented that way.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

That's why as a practicing christian, I shun the modern church and money-making events like this...It's an insult to common sense and intelligence for all involved..

JS
JS

How many times did he hit up the crowd for contributions or to go buy some "product"? 

Jessica hebert
Jessica hebert

I was there. No products were sold.

Powerchurch
Powerchurch

Whatever, Jessica. Keep lying.

J.M
J.M

I really dont know how to respond to this other than what Ive already said. I was there, from beginnig to end, both days. I did not see a single product for sale other than the Starbucks and Deli being open. There was ONE offering taken up each day. I cant imagine how you could continue to do events like these without at least taking up one offering each time.

Cm
Cm

Nope Powerchurch. I was there too and there were no products sold. It was a free event as well. 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Talk about a bunch of people drinking the store brand Kool-Aid..good grief..

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