Outside prayer event to counter inside prayer event at Ford Field
Shawn D. Lewis/ The Detroit News
Detroit—They’re coming in droves to pray for Detroit on Friday night. They’ll all be praying to Jesus, but they’ll be on different sides of the fence.
One event, known as TheCall Detroit 11.11.11, will hold a massive summit inside Ford Field, while another group of local clergy said it will counter TheCall with its own prayer vigil outside Ford Field.
The latter group, which on Wednesday solicited help from Occupy Detroit, claims TheCall is anti-Muslim and said it will march from the Occupy Detroit base on Grand Circus and Woodward to the outside of Ford Field. It is calling its event the “Crusade Against Hate.”
The recently organized group claims TheCall is masquerading as a prayer event, but its message is anti-homosexual, anti-abortion and anti-Muslim.
“We’re proclaiming that God loves all people: homosexuals, rich, poor, black, white, and we want to alert people who may not be aware of whom they’re supporting,” said D. Alexander Bullock, senior pastor of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church. “What we’re doing is organizing against hate.”
Lou Engle, co-founder of TheCall, based in Kansas City, did not return phone calls. On its website, it says the purpose of the event is to pray, fast and call out to God. And to save Detroit from itself. The website says, “We will gather to this city that has become a microcosm of our national crisis —economic collapse, racial tension, and the shedding of innocent blood of our children in the streets and of our unborn.” It also says it is calling the nation to a 24-hour solemn assembly, “daring to believe that Detroit’s desperation can produce a prayer that can change a nation.”
But missing from the website were what followed “racial tension” in the sentence last week: “the rising tide of the Islamic movement.”
Pastor Marvin Winans of Perfecting Church in Detroit, said he will be supporting Engle and TheCall. He said the summit is open to everyone.
“Jews can come, Islamics can come, Buddhists can come, but we’re only going to be praying to Jesus,” he said. “It is not anti-Islam.”
Muslim leader Dawud Walid last week warned local mosques to step up their security, and Wednesday said he is encouraging Muslims to stay away from Ford Field on Friday night.
“I stand in solidarity in spirit with the clergy, but I will be speaking at a mosque in Dearborn at the same time, and for the safety of our community, especially females, I am not encouraging Muslims to go down to that area because we don’t want to have a scene where some may become belligerent,” said Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan.
Bullock’s group held a news conference in front of the Occupy Detroit base Wednesday, and several in the tent city said they would support the counter prayer vigil outside Ford Field, despite their unfamiliarity with the controversy.
“What I’ve heard is that TheCall uses a lot of hate speech, and the idea of the speech disguised in prayer is unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it,” said Steve Harig, 28, of Taylor.