TheCall fails to attract expected crowd
September 7th, 2010
When the National Organization for Marriage failed abysmally to draw a crowd to their anti-gay Summer for Marriage Tour, I assumed that much of the problem could be found in their lack of organizational skills. And no doubt some of the blame for tiny and unenthusiastic attendance can be traced to poor planning, odd scheduling, and inadequate partnering.
But I am beginning to suspect that the largest reason that few people came out to “stand for marriage”, is that few people really object that much to gay couples being granted civil equality. And the turnout for Lou Engel’s TheCall evangelical rally this past weekend in Sacramento adds further confirmation.
Lou Engel (best known here for giving at least implied support for Uganda’s Kill the Gays Bill) is a popular speaker and an effective organizer. And his TheCall evangelical rallies draw support from some of the best known and most powerful figures in conservative Christian political circles. And Engel’s first TheCall in Washington, DC, in 2000 claimed to draw 400,000 participants.
Not so this year.
The event – a 12 hour fasting and prayer rally on Saturday with a decidedly political bent preceded by a Friday night concert – was planned in response to the Perry v. Schwarzenegger result and organizational hopes were for 50,000 people.
…the stakes couldn’t be higher. Seismic political, economic, and societal shifts are drastically reshaping California, every state, and the nation. This is the time for a great spiritual outpouring to be unleashed to meet the demand of these times.
The Capital Mall is a seven block stretch of grass (sort of a large meridian) that runs from the California State Capital’s west lawn to Interstate 5. Big screens were set up on each block of the Mall to facilitate the crowds being able to see and hear. They were not needed.
The gathering filled the west lawn of the state Capitol and hundreds of people spilled into the next block, but the rest of Capitol Mall’s five-block-long lawn went unused despite large screens and barricades set up for the occasion.
As Trial Tracker’s Andy Kelley reported
As I walked down the street I passed dozens of Porta Potties, but no one was in sight, let alone congregating around them. I continued down the street, walking in search of anyone who might be attending the event, but there was no one on the street, no one but me. I kept walking, until I reached a JumboTron, some five blocks away from the Capital, but again, no one was in sight. Had they really anticipated it would be needed?
As I continued walking forward, I passed many uniformed police officers, hundreds of feet of chain link fences, and yet another closed intersection. There was a a second JumboTron, like the first, I was the only one viewing it.
While mainstream press simply reported “thousands”, Trial Tracker estimated about 6,000 participants, less than 20% of those expected.
Now we should not discount that thousands of people – mostly young people – were so fired up by their religious beliefs that they were willing to go pray and listen to political/religious speech for 12 hours. But it appears to me that the anti-gay charge has lost steam.