On October 1, 1964, following a ban on student political activism, Jack Weinberg was arrested for distributing civil rights leaflets. Hundreds of students surrounded the police car holding Weinberg, trapping it in Soule Plaza for 36 hours.
Veterans of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at University of California Berkeley have been gathering this week to recognize the 50th anniversary of the campus protest that serve as a historic marker for the activism of the 1960s. But in the midst of these commemorative events, U.S. culture warrior Lou Engle has announced he will be hosting “TheCall Berkeley” on Saturday, October 4, in the same historic space.
The FSM50 website lists campus events from September through November, but you won’t find a listing for TheCall. Lou Engle will not be there to commemorate the events of fifty years ago, but, in his words, to “break the curse” of that rebellion. Engle is a leading anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice activist, whose incitement has been documented in the movie God Loves Uganda as well as numerous articles and reports at PRA. Engle relocated in 2013 from the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer, a tax affiliate of TheCall, to the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California.
Let the Long Hairs Arise!
Engle has been fixated on undoing what he views as a curse placed over the nation by the events at Berkeley fifty years ago. He describes the FSM protests as spawning the “decadent revolution of the 1960’s” and as leading the nation away from a biblical worldview. TheCall, now to be held on the site of the historic protests, is Engle’s effort to turn back the clock and to reverse the effects of the student activism of the 1960s.
In TheCall media, Engle points to another evangelist effort to counter the student protests, led by Bill Bright—founder of Campus Crusade for Christ—who described it as taking on the “fountainhead of the radical movement.” In 1967, Bright launched the “Berkeley Blitz” with six hundred Campus Crusaders, including concerts, dinners, a performance by a magician, and closed with an event featuring Billy Graham. A Campus Crusade newspaper headline claimed “Billy Graham Quieted the Radicals.”
Engle describes the protests fifty years ago as the “quasi-distorted reverse image” of the “Kingdom revolution that could be ignited by a new generation of raw, fiery evangelistic passion,” and he’s working to recruit the youth for that effort.
The most zealous of Engle’s youthful and followers call themselves “Nazirites,” loosely modeled after the biblical Nazarites like Samson, who vowed to never cut their hair or drink wine. In Charisma Magazine, Engle has described these modern-day Nazirites as key to a spiritual war for the soul of the nation and as having the supernatural powers to dispel demonic ideologies such as humanism. Engle is quoted saying:
“We have entered a season of time in a massive [spiritual] war. It’s Pearl Harbor. It’s Nazirites or Nazism. We are in a war, and if we don’t win, we lose everything.”
Lou Engle’s son, Jesse, retells the story of his role at TheCall D.C. in 2000, when as a 13-year old he took the microphone and resolved to become a Nazirite. He screamed out to the audience of tens of thousands on the mall, “Release the Nazirites, let the long hairs arise, let the long hairs arise!” Engle also repeats the story in his book Nazarite DNA, available as a free audio download on TheCall website. In the book, he claims the Nazarites will “shake the nations” and credits them with success fighting legal abortions, referred to by Engle as the “death culture.”
Promotional material for the upcoming TheCall Berkeley includes this statement by Engle:
Amazingly, it is there on Sproul Hall on the very place where the free speech movement occurred, I stood some eight years ago and declared before hundred of students as they were changing classes, “In this place there was a student revolution that shook the nation and spawned an era of rebellion and protest, but I declare to you that in this place there is coming a greater revolution, a Jesus revolution that will be stronger than the rebellion, and thousands from this place will come to know the Man Christ Jesus.
A recent video of a gaunt and bearded Lou Engle shows him 40 days into the 50-day fast, in preparation and raising funds for the October 4th event.
In a fascinating coincidence, one of Engle’s fellow leaders in the apostolic and prophetic movement (more commonly known as the “New Apostolic Reformation”) was one of the students arrested in the 1964 protest and was interviewed about his conversion from an FSM student activist to his support of authoritarian religion. Click here for our profile of Dennis Peacocke, with excerpts from that interview.