The Michigan chapter of a Muslim-rights organization is concerned that an upcoming Christian prayer event, TheCall in Detroit, might result in some Christians going to local mosques to “harass or provoke” Muslim worshipers. As a precaution, the director of the group has advised Muslim houses of worship to beef up their security.
On Nov. 11-12, a 24-hour prayer and fasting session will begin at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, where Christians will cry out to God on behalf of the city. For the last decade, TheCall events have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Christians gathering in different cities across the U.S. to pray for the spiritual awakening of our nation.
But Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – Michigan, says the event is a security concern for local mosques.
“Given the theology of the participants and that they view Muslims as demonic, we should be prepared that some participants may come to the mosques to harass or provoke worshipers especially around the time of Friday prayers,” Walid said in an email sent to local Muslim organizations on Nov. 2.
He advised area mosques to make sure all entrances are secure during the prayer event, and says they should call police if “suspicious persons congregate on mosque property.”
Previously, TheCall's website described Detroit as a city in despair, saying Christians will “gather to this city that has become a microcosm of our national crisis – economic collapse, racial tension, the rising tide of the Islamic movement, and the shedding of innocent blood of our children in the streets and our unborn."
As of Friday afternoon, however, the phrase “the rising tide of the Islamic movement” had been removed from the statement. TheCall representatives could not be reached concerning the change.
TheCall's founder, Lou Engle, is known to have been associated with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a movement that Rachel Tabachnick researched then discussed on NPR's “Fresh Air” radio program in August. According to NPR's website, Tabachnick addressed a number of topics during the radio program, including how she says TheCall organizers view Muslims.
"In other words, [they want] to conduct spiritual warfare against the spiritual demons which they claim hold Muslims in bondage and keep them from converting," she said. "Of course, this is expressed in terms of love. They say 'We don't hate Muslims. We love Muslims. But we hate that they are in spiritual bondage and don't convert to Christianity.' "
Spiritual warfare in the form of prayer doesn't amount to harassment, but Walid says he is afraid some of the movement's followers might try to exorcise demons out of Muslims or provoke mosque-goers. He also said a number of extreme anti-Muslim groups, including Westboro Baptist Church, have come to the area in recent months, which also leads him to take extra precaution.
“In these types of circumstances we have to be more security-minded,” said Walid.
The Rev. Jim Holley, pastor of The Historic Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit, told CP that Walid is overreacting, but was critical of any Christians who think it is right to harass mosque-goers
“If the agenda is about Detroit – and Lord knows we need prayer, they've tried everything in Detroit but prayer – and so, if that's what the agenda is, I'm for it,” Holley told The Christian Post on Friday.
The Detroit News reports that another area pastor, Jerry Winzierl of Grace Christian Church in Sterling Heights, says TheCall is not an anti-Muslim event.
"It's not to pray against anybody," he said. "It is a very positive movement of Christians gathering together to pray."
Engle could not be reached to comment on the issue, but in a blog post at the end of September, he makes it clear the event is all about fasting and praying on behalf of the city.
“TheCall Detroit begins on 11.11.11,” he wrote. “It will be 24 hours of prayer and fasting where we are going to bring together the races – the ethnic groups of the Church. Jesus said, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations [ethnic groups].' We are coming together, daring to believe that if the Church can unite in prayer, it can actually begin to be a healing for the fractured society of America.”