(Photo: Reuters / Richard Carson)
Thousands of people attending Saturday's prayer rally in Texas seemed oblivious to the controversy surrounding the event as they focused all their attention on glorifying one name – Jesus.
The rally, called "The Response," kicked off in the morning at Reliant Stadium in Houston with participants ready to spend the entire day in worship and prayer amid what they see as a "historic crisis" in America.
The economic crisis, terrorism, natural disasters and moral relativism are what the U.S. faces today, according to Gov. Rick Perry, initiator of The Response.
"As an elected leader, I'm all too aware of government's limitations when it comes to fixing things that are spiritual in nature," he said in his invitation. "That's where prayer comes in and we need it more than ever."
Perry has been under fire for organizing a Christian rally, mainly from atheists who tried unsuccessfully to block the governor from joining the event. Judge Gray Miller tossed out the lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation which argued that Perry attending the rally would have violated the separation of church and state.
Despite the controversy, Luis Cataldo, director of the event, was happy to see a largely filled stadium Saturday morning, especially considering that organizers never advertised any speakers or even a program.
Rather than a famed speaker or worship leader, or even Gov. Perry, Jesus is proving to be the star of the rally.
"The church is gathered to honor one name, one kingdom, one rulership – the kingdom of Jesus, the name of Jesus. Only the name of Jesus," said Cataldo, who serves at International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
He also praised the participants for recognizing the need for prayer.
"The church is responding to a call to prayer," he said Saturday. "We came here because there is a need for Jesus to respond to our cry for mercy.”
Over 1,300 satellite locations throughout the country are also hosting The Response, according to Cataldo.
Participants will be spending the day praying for personal repentance, corporate repentance, America, the first commandment of loving God, and blessing both younger and older generations.
Cataldo stressed, "We're not here to blame others ... or to cause other people to do what we need to do."
"Today is not about you being spectators ... the platform is here for you to engage with Jesus."
"When you pray, just pray to Jesus," he encouraged.