Prayer rally, political rally, or both : Decision America 2016 tour starts in Iowa.

Decision America 2016 tour bus at Iowa State Capitol/photo by Gary Flanagan

Decision America 2016 tour bus at Iowa State Capitol/photo by Gary Flanagan

By Gary Flanagan

Bold initiatives. One has to love them. If you do, then you must follow them and put yourself on the road to discovery. When Franklin Graham announced last year that he was going to every state capital to hold prayer rallies, my discovery senses came alive. His first stop would be in Iowa on January 5, 2016 in advance of the Iowa Caucuses, which is also the first political contest on the road to the presidency in 2016.

Crowd gathers at prayer rally 1-5-16 Iowa State Capitol/photo by Gary Flanagan

Crowd gathers at prayer rally 1-5-16 Iowa State Capitol/photo by Gary Flanagan

Decision America 2016 (decisonamerica2016.com) sure sounds political. A visit to the website looks political: red, white and blue, tour dates, pledge support. My first thought was that Graham is running for president, which would be interesting: another Republican in the ever growing field of candidates.

Alas, it was not to be. Evangelist Graham is merely leading his constituency to pray, vote and engage in the political process. He has left the Republican Party and is encouraging Christians to get off the sidelines and get in the game of becoming Christian leaders. No party labels needed.

To this reporter, a fascinating story lies within this effort. Can a famous religious leader make an impact in the United States presidential race of 2016 without running for office himself? Can one walk in the separation of church and state but still construct a bridge between the two? Does one have to build or break down walls to accomplish such a goal?

Waiting for Franklin Graham to step to the podium, Iowa rally

Waiting for Franklin Graham to step to the podium, Iowa rally/photo by Gary Flanagan

I packed up my Capitols and churches experience and hit the road to Des Moines. There I found a noon time crowd of 2600 assembled on the west terrace of the Iowa State Capitol. It was sunny, mid 20’s cold with a stiff southwest breeze.

Three Decision America 2016 buses wrapped in Red,White, and Blue set the scene for a 30 minute speech/ prayer rally by Franklin Graham.Orange vested chaplins from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association roamed through the crowd.  Silently standing on the outskirts were two political campaign buses. Ben Carson 2016 and Rocky 2016. One Navy veteran stood on the Capitol steps with numerous signs of silent protest. After the event, the Iowa Governor arrived to meet with Mr. Graham on his tour bus.

It was a fine example of the freedom to assemble and express your opinion. With 2600 in attendance and thousands more following in various media forms, I’m sure it will inspire people to pray, vote, and engage. The question is how much? Will it make a difference in the final outcome? Stay tuned as this tour makes it way to Florida and Louisiana next week. A Tennessee rally date has not been announced.

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