Rick Scarborough’s new idea of a crusade he launched in Lufkin, Texas, on July 5 is a radical departure from his past.
His mentor, the late Jerry Falwell, claimed in the PBS Religious Right documentary that the old idea–that holding revivals and winning converts meant the nation would move in the right direction–was flawed.
Rick used to hold revival meetings, known in those circles often as “crusades,” where un-churched people were called upon to profess faith in Christ, and Christians were called to turn from sin and resume following Jesus.
Now Rick’s idea of leading a crusade has more to do with calling people to get involved in politics, specifically the right wing of the GOP.
Rick used to give an invitation at the end of his earlier crusades asking people to come forward to respond to Christ. Recently it was reported that Rick uses the same technique to invite people to sign up for the Republican Party.
I attended the July 5 event and free banquet provided for area pastors sponsored by Rick’s Vision America.
At the meeting Scarborough introduced himself and warned that the threat of Islamic terrorists should be a wake-up call to America to get behind his movement. He later implied that the terrorist threat was God’s judgment on America for its pro-abortion stance.
Rick cautioned the crowd to be on guard, because the “other side” was building an organization to shut them down. As an example of how bad it has gotten, he claimed the Supreme Court said you cannot pray or read the Bible in schools.
Opponents like the Southern Poverty Law Center were identified as the enemy. One continual theme was that great patriots like Ten Commandments Judge Roy Moore, ousted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the Navy chaplain present suffered from religious persecution in America.
Hate-crime legislation was a topic of a great deal of emphasis. We were told the legislation would mean ministers who took a position against the homosexual lifestyle could be prosecuted if this bill passed.
Next the media-savvy Pat Robertson law school grad and former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt was introduced. He was the focal point of much of the evening.
“Chaps,” as he referred to himself, claimed he was terminated from the armed forces because he prayed in Jesus name. He later admitted he could hold services using Jesus name, but in civic ceremonies the prayer was deemed offensive.
Since he was persecuted, as claimed, for his prayer, he determined he was crucified for preaching the gospel. God showed him he was the David to take on the Goliath of government pluralism.
In his story legislatures came to his aid and restored his place of service. His government support was all going well, until Hillary Clinton blocked his push for the Christian prayer.
Senator Barack Obama did not help him either. But Obama fared better with Chap’s evaluation than in Alan Keyes’ later appraisal of him.
Keyes was the political rival and Ivy League-educated black counter who ran against Obama for the Senate. Keyes was often asked what he though of Obama and he replied, “I try not to.” He then stated that the famous Democrat is “an evil man.”
Scarborough’s Web site has more insults for Democrats. One featured article says: “Democrats are to traditional religion what Islam is to tolerance. Democrats practice a religion alien to both Christianity and Judaism.”
We all adjourned to a large arena, where laymen were invited. A huge crowd was gathered to hear the stories repeated. In evangelistic fervor speakers proceeded.
GOP Congressman Louie Gohmert led off after being introduced as one called by the Lord to his job. His friend reminded the crowd that a lot of liberal God haters, many who ran newspapers, don’t like Louie. Representative Gohmert was named the leading opponent of hate-crimes legislation.
Scarborough told the crowd that 2006 had lots of horrible things happen. These things took place, he said, because good people stayed home and didn’t vote.
Rick told the crowd he was non-partisan, but the GOP aligned with their values. He admitted some have stopped sending in their offerings to his movement because of 2006. They had decided to resume giving to mission causes instead.
Thus Rick held a 16-hour prayer meeting in Houston with several leaders around the nation. He then came up with the revelation for his 70-week crusade, because, “I am not content to sit back and watch this nation be destroyed.”
Scarborough said the purpose for the crusades was to take back what was stolen. He promised to deliver votes and to influence candidates with “our” values. This was only if we would go back and organize his army.
In his brochure he told pastors they could give their church rolls out to political campaign leaders.
It was apparent from the meeting that Chaps would not be alone in his effort to slay the government-pluralism dragon.
Don Wilkey is pastor of First Baptist Church in Onalaska, Texas.