TheCall fails to attract expected crowd

Timothy Kincaid

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.

(Sources: Trial Tracker, Christian Post, Mercury News, TheCall, News & Review)

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.

But the people didn’t show up. The concert got decent attention, but the rally – the real purpose of TheCall – drew a far smaller crowd than for which the organization had prepared.

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.


September 7th, 2010

Eh, I blame it on the holiday weekend. There are plenty of anti-gays in Sacramento. I’m willing to bet half that crowd was Russian…

I love that picture of Capital mall. Back in June we moved our Sacramento Pride parade & festival to Capital mall. That entire area you see in the picture was packed with people and booths. Many more people than the 6000 that attended the Call.

David C.

September 7th, 2010

There is a measure of justice in these numbers. I suspect the event cost the organizers far more than it brought in.

I’ve always wanted to be able to make negative donations to these groups. Looks like I got my wish.


September 7th, 2010

It is troubling that the few people that did show up seemed to be overwhelmingly young.

I suspect that Pomo is right and the vast majority were from the huge (and growing), rabidly anti-gay, Russian and eastern European community of Sacramento.


September 7th, 2010

Six thousand is almost definitely more than turned out for NOM’s entire nation-wide tour, when you consider the number of times the organisers outnumbered the rally attendees.

Regan DuCasse

September 7th, 2010

I think I’m entitled to say something a little catty.
I think the ‘fasting’ part was a huge turnoff. It would be for me. We are, after all, a well fed nation that likes such holidays as a reason to feast, rather than not.

I think too that since so many of us have no idea where I next paycheck is coming from, if we’ve even had paychecks in a while…I think it’s a matter of people’s real priorities.

When it’s all said and done, maybe a kind of thoughtfulness prevailed. Gay folks don’t cost the public more money, aren’t excluded from the same tax responsibility and there isn’t anything gay people have or want at the expense of anyone else.
No one who has had a quiet moment of reflection could honestly say it’s true.
People had to think about their children’s school clothes and books and tuition.
Their mortgages and health insurance.
When it’s all said and done, gay folks do too.
There isn’t a whole lot of appeal for some, to take all afternoon for a bitch about teh gayz fest. The NOM speaker’s league aren’t very charismatic, or appealing. I’m thinking more of the same is true of The Call.

They are strictly fogeyville. If anyone in this crowd has a gay relative, they are probably long estranged from them or want to be and avoid really knowing any gay people where it matters.
So what’s left?
An abstract idea of what gay people are actually doing that changes anything in any of these people’s lives.
Much is left to their imaginations, and I suspect their imaginations aren’t all that interesting or vivid.
Which is probably another reason why all this preaching and Biblical stories appeal to them.

I don’t care to be kind about the folks of The Call and who they are trying to appeal to.

The holiday was about the American worker. Who, our nation has and continues to show, the back of it’s hand to.
Maybe some of these people will realize that gay and straight are in the same boat. No one benefits directly FROM the Call.
Nor from NOM.
After they ask for money and donations and time, someone with more revelatory opportunity might think: well now what do I get out of this? Oh, just so gay folks don’t get married.
And that is supposed to help ME how?

That should be the prevailing thought. Because The Call isn’t going to help anyone with their paychecks, or health coverage, retirement or lack of knowing what to do about their children’s futures with a nation in debt well past their great great great great grandchildren.

The Call?
More like…call waiting.

Paul J Stwin

September 7th, 2010

Maybe we need a huge GAY lesbian turnout to counter them. Just sing and pray for their souls.

Jerry Sloan

September 8th, 2010

Unfortunately health problems prevented me from going down to the Capitol and observing the antics of TheCall but I did watch the Friday rally on GogTV and observe much of the Saturday rally on their webcast.

What has been overlooked by the mainstream media and mostly ignored by glbt media is the fact the rally of TheCall – Sacramento and 2 upcoming rallies in DC are indeed political rallies wrapped in religious cloth.

When one visits TheCall’s webpage one is asked to view AND sign the recently released Manhattan Declaration ( co-authored by Watergate felon Chuck Colson. It was originally signed by most of the country’s evangelical leaders AND 15 cardinals and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. It now has over 400,000 signatures.

The Manhattan Declaration has 3 points:

1. No Abortions – No Exceptions – this means a woman MUST carry her rapist’s child to term.

2. Marriage only for a man and a woman.

3. Religious Liberty – Ah, aren’t we all in favor of that? Of course they mean religious liberty as defined by them. Under their definition of religious liberty they would roll back ANY civil rights law that conflicts with their religious beliefs especially those that grant “special rights’ to GLBT persons.

People who sign the Manhattan Declaration pledge not to vote for candidates who do not support the three points.

TheCall rallies are also a part of Prayer and Act which is co-chaired by Rev. James Garlow of San Diego who was a leader who gathered evangelical church support for Prop 8. The other co-chair is none other than NEWT GINGRICH!

It looks as though Jim Garlow is emerging as the new Ted Haggard. Let’s hope he falls the same way.

Most of the founding leaders of the Radical Religious Right like Jerry Falwell and James Kennedy have died and gone to their reward, such as it may be. Others like Pat Robertson, Don Wildmon and Tim and Beverly are getting too old and out of touch to be effective. So the younger leaders are looking for the mantle to fall on them.

It really doesn’t matter how many pallets of water or unused portapottys there were this event accomplished what it set out to do and that is get the faithful to stirred up and to set up Chuck Colson and Newt Gingrich as kingmakers for the GOP.

Kel Munger

September 8th, 2010

@ TheCall Sacramento, there were giant stacks of water (left unused) and plenty of outraged neighbors (the sound system was set up for thousands, which meant its echoes could be heard blocks away).

The Bound4LIFE (anti-abortion contingent) were out in force, praying to expel the “demons that make people seek abortions” around downtown/Midtown, and marking the places they’d been with orange stickers that said “LIFE.”

But otherwise, it was a big bust. It was smaller than most of the big-issue rallies (state worker furloughs, anti-Prop 8, teabaggers).

Nowhere near either the 50,000 they claimed they were expecting or the 30,000 they were actually prepared for. Most of the attendees I spoke with were from the south state or from out-of-state; and the “usual suspects” from the Slavic evangelical community were nowhere in sight.

Regan DuCasse

September 8th, 2010

I wonder how much it all cost to get the park space, rent the sound equipment and travel expenses for the speakers and printing up their materials.

Serves them right if they operated at a major loss. I doubt they will see it as God’s way of telling them they have other priorities too.

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2010

I doubt they will see it as God’s way of telling them they have other priorities too.

Good times = God’s blessing and a sign that he’s pleased with your efforts, keep them up.

Bad times = trials to test our faith, keep up the efforts to prove your conviction.

Jason D

September 9th, 2010

Regan makes a good point here
“Oh, just so gay folks don’t get married.
And that is supposed to help ME how?”

What’s more confounding is how they don’t realize the opposite, that gay people getting married doesn’t hurt or affect them in the slightest.
The excuse is always “But I’ll have to explain to my children that it’s wrong even though the government says it’s okay” Well, welcome to being like every other faith group in America, who’s faith-based restrictions on clothes, diet, sex, work, etc. aren’t government enforced either. There’s a difference between God’s Laws and Man’s Laws, you’re going to have to explain that at some point anyway over sex, drinking, gambling, swearing, just add “Gay” to your bullet points and get over yourself already!

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