Large Group Denouncing Islam Mobilizes in Detroit

PHOTO: The exterior of Ford Field in Detroit is shown, Nov. 10, 2011, the day before the start of The Call, a 24-hour Christian prayer gathering.Jeff Karoub/AP Photo
The exterior of Ford Field in Detroit is shown, Nov. 10, 2011, the day before the start of The Call, a 24-hour Christian prayer gathering.

Lou Engle, leader of a Christian group that denounces Islam, is gathering thousands of people in Detroit tonight to pray for the city that he says has become "a microcosm of our national crisis."

But the gathering has several of the city's imams questioning Engle's intentions, as well as those of his ministry, TheCall, which is hosting the event.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 24,000 people had registered online for the free prayer service hosted by TheCall, which has condemned homosexuality and abortion. The prayer vigil is being held at the 65,000-seat Ford Field stadium, which is located two miles from the Islamic Center of Detroit.

According to the Detroit Free Press, there are an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Muslims in the Detroit area.

Abdullah El-Amin, an imam at the Muslim Center in Detroit, told he worries about the group's reasons for coming to Michigan.

"It's strange. I don't know what these people are doing," he said. "I know they said they were going to drive stakes in the ground to get rid of the devil on Islamic ground, so that could be the mosque. It could be Muslim homes, it could be anything if someone is that passionate."

Lou Engle's Proclamations

TheCall has been rallying young people to join its cause for more than a decade.

In a video on, Engle says he launched the organization in 1999, when a woman came to him, and said, "the Lord spoke to me because you're going to start something with the youth of America in prayer that's going to change the destiny of the nation." According to Engle, she then gave him $100,000, which "launched a supernatural sequence of events."

Since then, he's preached against Islam on numerous occasions.

In one of his sermons Engle -- who did not respond to interview requests from -- predicted that by 2050, the United States would be an Islamic nation, and the church "must raise up a house of prayer to contend with Islam."

In another video he proclaimed, "We're going to Detroit. The largest population of Muslims is right next to Detroit," he said in a video of one of his sermons. "We dare to believe millions of Muslims are gonna come to Christ as the church prays and goes with signs and wonders."

When preaching about today's 24-hour event, he told his followers, "You've got to pray all night long, because it's when the Muslims sleep. And all over the world right now Muslims in the night are having dreams of Jesus," adding, "we're gathering together to say, 'God, pour out your grace and a revelation of Jesus all over Dearborn and the Muslim communities of North and South America.' I think it's a crisis moment."

In another sermon he preached, "Muslim proclamations for 1,400 years have been fueling the demonic realm." And in a written statement on, he blamed Detroit's troubles, in part, on "the rising tide of the Islamic movement."

The comments alarmed Dawud Walid, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter, who told, "We don't care if they think that Islam is not 100 percent the truth or that Muslims should become Christians, that's not the issue.

"The issue is that a number of groups of people, including Muslims, are [described as being] possessed, and they purport that the demons should be drawn out of us."

The offending comments have since been removed from, but the videos can still be found on YouTube.

Muslim Groups Respond to TheCall

Imam El-Amin questioned the group's decision to remove that language from its website.

"When they were confronted with it, they took it off," he said. "So that right off tells you something's wrong. If you say you did it from God, why would you be afraid of someone saying it if you're doing God's work?"

Were it not for the organization's anti-Muslim sentiment, said El-Amin, his beliefs would align with many of the same ones espoused by TheCall.

"Anytime someone comes and they're talking about God and Jesus and prayer and fast for the better of the city, what God-fearing person would not join in?" he said. "I would have joined in. But they had that other message and … it was hidden."

El-Amin doesn't fear TheCall or the people who run it, although he does question its rationale.

"I'm not very much concerned about these people. I'm just upset at the way that they're singling out Islam as a demonic religion or faith," he said.

His mosque doesn't have any plans to step up security for tonight's service, although it will remain "more observant."

It typically has security guards in place on Friday, Islam's day of prayer, to protect the mosque from Detroit's high crime rather than from anti-Muslim bigotry.

The Rev. Charles Williams II will be leading his own vigil tonight at the Historic King Solomon Church as an option for those who want to pray but don't wish to support an organization that has been critical of Islam.

"We do not agree with the spread of a message of hate, but a message of peace and a message of love," the pastor said Wednesday. "We love our Muslim brothers. We love those who are homosexual and we are not scared ... to stand up when the time calls for us to."

Michigan CAIR leader Walid said he has recommended that Muslims not attend, "although we stand in solidarity with those clergy members."

"We don't want any of our people to go down there and someone does something provocative or belligerent toward Muslims," he said.

Christian Groups Attend TheCall spoke to Dearborn Assembly of God pastor Trey Hancock, who is attending tonight's 24-hour prayer event at Ford Field. For him, it's about "asking God for mercy" to heal Detroit's socio-economic and moral problems.

"We love our city, but I travel quite a bit and I go to other towns and I don't know many other places like this and it breaks my heart," he said, referring to the city's "corruption and the sin."

When asked about the derogatory words that had been posted on TheCall's website, and Lou Engle's negative statements about Islam during sermons, Hancock said he hadn't seen any of that. But he did say he has a "problem" with Islam.

"If it was only just the religious parts that Islam was dealing with, then I wouldn't have a problem with it. But Islam is more than just a religion -- it's economic, it deals with the military, it deals with the cultural part, it deals with the religious and it deals with family issues," he said.

TheCall is about bringing people to Jesus, he said.

"Any true believer in Jesus would wish that anyone would come to Jesus whether they're Muslim or Mason," he said. "We want people to come to lord."

El-Amin told most Muslims will "keep a pretty low profile" tonight, adding, "it doesn't make any sense going down there.

"If someone is doing the work of God, regardless of what scripture they use," he said, "you would have more to do with your time than attack someone that's really saying the same thing that you're saying."