- - Sunday, September 10, 2017

They were hoping for 100,000 signatures on their faith-based petition and got double that amount. They were hoping for one day of prayer for 9/11 — they got three.

In God We Trust (IGWT), a coalition of broadcasting networks, pundits and religious leaders that includes former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, announced Saturday they had collected over 200,000 signatures on a petition asking President Trump to declare Sept. 11 as a national day of prayer, fasting and repentance. Mr. Trump instead proclaimed Sept. 8 through Sept. 10 as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance and Sept. 11 itself as Patriot Day.

Concerns over terrorist attacks and increased social discord in the U.S. led IGWT to petition the president. To help drum up even more support for their movement, the group is hosting a daylong national televised event Monday featuring popular conservative speakers like Mr. Huckabee, Alveda King and Pat Robertson.

The president’s prayer proclamation does not make mention of fasting and repentance. In part, he asks that “people of the United States mark these National Days of Prayer and Remembrance with prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, and evening candlelight remembrance vigils.”

The last U.S. president to declare a national day of prayer, fasting and repentance was Woodrow Wilson during World War I.

“The In God We Trust movement is thrilled by President Trump proclaiming this weekend as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance for the families of the victims of 9/11 and Monday as Patriot Day,” said Don Black, the head of IGWT and Cornerstone Television Network CEO. “By humbling ourselves before Almighty God in prayer, the redemption of that terrible day will begin,” he said of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on Washington, D.C., New York and in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Black, who calls fasting “an amplifier of prayer,” is hopeful that his group’s TV special on Monday, “In God We Trust: 9/11 Triumph From Tragedy,” will move people across the U.S. to pray for the forgiveness of churches that they believe have grown too comfortable and unwilling to speak out on controversial issues that may prove socially or politically unpopular.

“We haven’t stood our ground morally or socially — that, I believe, is the heart of the repentance,” Mr. Black said, citing II Chronicles 7:14 : “If my people who are called by name will humble themselves and pray, turning from sin, I will forgive them and heal their land.”

“So we’re asking the Lord to heal our land,” Mr. Black said.

While Mr. Black said critics have thus far been quiet concerning his group’s faith-based goals for the country, he doesn’t expect their silence to last.

“What happened on 9/11? We were attacked by radical Islam — everyone knows, everyone agrees to that. But what was the heart of that? What’s the baseline there?” Mr. Black said. “In our perspective, all things in culture have spiritual roots. I attribute evil with spiritual roots. I attribute good with spiritual roots.

“When evil attacks, then that has to counter with good. That’s just the battle we face as Christians. … What happened on 9/11 never got illuminated.”

Churches across the country will be broadcasting “In God We Trust: 9/11 Triumph from Tragedy” on Monday, the 16th anniversary of the attacks. Though most of the 10 speakers for the broadcast are Christian, Mr. Black said they represent various denominations. Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, promoted the event recently on IGWT’s Facebook page.

“I hope that you will join me in praying that on 9/11 our entire nation will come together in asking God for his intervention in this country,” Mr. Huckabee says in the 30-second clip. “We can do that by signing the petition at InGodWeTrust.TV. Let’s pray that the president — President Trump — joins us in that effort.”

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, an Orthodox rabbi and best-selling author who heads the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, will also speak Monday.

While the “Triumph From Tragedy” speakers are no strangers to controversial issues, Mr. Black said the goal for Monday’s televised event is to focus on prayer, fasting and repentance.

“I don’t see this as a political issue. I see it as a cultural issue, as a social issue,” he said. “We’re not condemning anybody. We’re not judging anybody. We’re not putting anybody in a light that says they’re less spiritual than others.

“This is about doing something in the unseen world that impacts the seen one, so that makes us kind of undercover, if you will,” Mr. Black continued. “We’re not trying to enter the talking head race of who’s right and who’s wrong. We’re saying, ‘All evil’s bad. And evil can only be defeated with good.’ And only God is a source of good.”

Mr. Black believes the church has retreated from cultural and social issues for various reasons — partly out of becoming “comfortable.”

“It’s just easier to go along than to resist and to stand up,” he said.

In President Trump IGWT believes it has found a leader who’s not afraid to stand up for faith-based groups.

“I believe President Trump is a man of faith. I believe he has a heart after God. He has a fear of the Lord,” Mr. Black said prior to the president’s proclamations on Friday, adding that he believes Mr. Trump respects God and the Bible.

“I think he respects the church, so my confidence is that will rise up in him, and he’ll see this for what it is: a direct appeal to the church,” Mr. Black said.

While some have pointed to a seeming disparity between the espoused values of evangelical voters versus the campaign statements and policy positions of Mr. Trump, Mr. Black contends that there is in fact concordance between the White House and the American religious bloc

“The church has been at discord with several of our presidents in the past, but there’s no discord here,” Mr. Black said. “There’s a lot of technical questions about particular statements and things that have been done, but in general, I think there’s a harmony.”

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of Houston, Mr. Trump proclaimed Sept. 3 as a National Day of Prayer for the victims of the storm.

IGWT’s Monday broadcast special will be aired at InGodWeTrust.TV and on its Facebook page.

“As the American people bend their knees before God, he will hear us and heal our land,” Mr. Black said. “On behalf of more than 200,000 Christian citizens who signed our petitions, we thank President Trump for his courageous leadership. We will continue to pray for him, for our leaders and for the protection and preservation of America.”

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