Lou Engle

Christian women's rally on National Mall was small, but still had some big news angles

Christian women's rally on National Mall was small, but still had some big news angles

It took 10 months, but the heavily covered Women’s March that happened in January got a response of sorts from devout Christian women. The more recent event was an “Awaken the Dawn” program, followed by a “Rise Up” prayer rally on Oct. 9.

When I wrote up the Women’s March for this blog, I noted the odd mix of women donning hijabs at the Washington DC event with others criticizing the veil as symbolic of patriarchy and oppression.

There was no such disconnect at this Christian women’s event. And this smaller rally did not have wall-to-wall media coverage ranging from Buzzfeed and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to New York magazine and the New York Times, to name a few.

What we got last week was Religion News Service, the Washington Post and CBN. As RNS’s Adelle Banks worded it:

WASHINGTON -- Twenty years ago, men gathered as “Promise Keepers” and filled the National Mall for a prayer rally seeking repentance and spiritual revival.
On Monday (Oct. 9), it was the women’s turn.
A largely female audience of thousands gathered on the lawn in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol for the “Rise Up” prayer rally. Braving wind and rain, these Christian women -- many charismatic or Pentecostal -- declared their unity and sought God’s guidance to lead the nation.
At turns on their knees, huddled in small groups and facing a stage with hands raised, those gathered prayed for reconciliation between men and women, between racial and ethnic groups, and for ending abortion. In marked contrast to the Women’s March right after President Trump’s inauguration, these women had a different agenda.

Banks helpfully put together a graphic design showing dates of religion-centric rallies on the Mall starting the Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963; the Million Man March, the Promise Keepers 1997 rally and even the anti-religious Reason Rally in 2012.

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Azusa not yet: Why a media no-show for 56,000 charismatics at Los Angeles Coliseum?

Azusa not yet: Why a media no-show for 56,000 charismatics at Los Angeles Coliseum?

Certainly we have all heard of the philosophical conundrum: If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound? Of course it does.

Here’s similar one: If a large, symbolic religious event occurs but there’s little-to-no mainstream press around to cover it, did it have an impact?

Last Saturday, thousands of Christians filled the Los Angeles Coliseum for Azusa Now, a 110th anniversary gathering for Los Angeles' famed 1906 Azusa Street revival that birthed the worldwide Pentecostal movement. Saturday's event was organized by Lou Engle, head of a youth revival movement known as The Call. Early PR for the April 9 event suggested 100,000 people would show up -- a neat trick in that the stadium only fits 93,000 -- but hopes were high. Some 50,000 were said to be registered; not a small number.

I was researching an article on a related event, so was checking around the Los Angeles mediascape to see if there was so much as an advance news story. The only thing I found was an offhand mention of the event in the Los Angeles Times in relation to the newspaper’s Festival of Books. Odd, I thought.

During the weekend, I scoured the Times, the Orange County Register, even the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Nothing. OK -- maybe the Christian Broadcasting Network? Nothing. Christianity Today? Nada. Local TV? Nope. Now on Sunday, the Register did have something on a gathering of beach corgis.

And the Times naturally talked up the “thousands” that attended its book festival. It was even doing live updates of the event.

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