Re-posted from RealClearReligion July 24, 2020
Friends in different states have been urging me to write about a major religious event scheduled for Sept. 26 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I’ve been hesitant to spotlight “The Return – National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance” for a number of reasons explained below.
According to the event website, The Return “is a movement” for the nation to “return to God by coming before His presence in humility, in sincerity in prayer, and repentance.”
I agree with the mission, but I’m left wondering: how will the organizers keep presidential politics out of this event – which takes place in the shadow of the Capitol Dome – with voting by mail already in process and the election on everyone’s minds?
Spearheading “The Return” is Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish rabbi and author of four New York Times best-selling books. His most recent, “The Oracle” (2019), had the distinction of debuting at No. 1 on that prestigious list. Cahn’s rise to national and international prominence began in 2012 after the release of his first blockbuster book “The Harbinger” – a Christian novel about how the 9/11 attacks were a “divine warning” to the United States.
If you are unfamiliar with Cahn, here is an excerpt from his bio on The Return website:
“Called the prophetic voice of this generation, he has spoken on Capitol Hill, at the United Nations, and to millions of people around the world. He has warned of America’s departure from God, has long called for national repentance and the necessity for revival, and has issued the call to return.”
Cahn, in his video message promoting the urgency of the Mall event, said:
“The Biblical template concerning judgment is that the nation so warned is given a space of time to return or to head for judgment and calamity. We are now in that window of time.”
Given that I am a fan of Cahn’s books and also a Messianic Jew, I wholeheartedly support his urgent mission of fostering national repentance and revival. However, I reached out to the rabbi and presented my concerns.
Myra Kahn Adams: The Return is on the Mall in D.C. just days before October early in-person voting begins for the presidential election. Are you concerned, given the evangelical nature and purpose of the event – and with many evangelicals as Trump supporters – that The Return could turn into a Trump rally (even an understated, unintentional one)?
Jonathan Cahn: Great question. The Return is a spiritual event – not a political one. The point is return, repentance, and revival. That’s bigger than any political campaign. At the same time, I believe a spiritual event touches all realms – the cultural, social, political, etc. So we will certainly be praying for God’s will and hand on this election, which I believe will be a very crucial one with regard to the issues. But that is one of many realms. And the focus will remain the spiritual.
MKA: Many evangelical leaders on The Return website are Trump supporters. I don’t see any speakers yet, but will you be issuing any guidelines about speakers mentioning Trump and encouraging attendees to vote for him? Or not to mention, keeping the event politics-free?
JC: We haven’t issued any such guidelines as of yet. But inasmuch as we pray for the election, I would think we would speak of issues rather than specific people.
MKA: Considering the date and place, I would imagine that the Trump campaign will want a presence at the event. Have they asked yet? When they do ask, what is your response?
JC: They haven’t as of yet asked. We haven’t formulated an answer.
MKA: What if the president or VP asks to address the crowd? What will be your answer?
JC: Whoever addresses the crowd, it can’t be a campaign speech – the purpose is repentance, and turning back to God. That is the case regardless of who it is that speaks.
MKA: Since God is supposed to be at the center of the event, how will you keep Trump or his campaign from hijacking The Return?
JC: God will be the center of the event. There’s no one who can hijack it away from that. If someone goes off-center, we will bring it back.
MKA: The timing, the place, and the audience practically place Trump at the center. I know your intention is NOT to conflate the event’s mission with the Trump campaign, but many, if not the majority of your potential audience, will be Trump voters. Are you concerned that the media would brand The Return as a Trump rally? What are you doing to keep that from happening and interfering with your stated purpose?
JC: The media will brand it as such no matter what we do. Thus we don’t worry so much about what the media will do but simply state, restate, and move forward in the purpose of The Return – which is, namely, to return.
MKA: After looking over The Return website, I got the impression that the event was geared exclusively to evangelicals. What about Catholics? Any plans for Catholic outreach? There were no priests, bishops, or Catholic leaders on your advisory board.
JC: Everyone who shares in the heart of The Return is welcome to come and be a part. We have people from all backgrounds and denominations who are wanting to come – and we welcome them to come or take part. As to those on the advisory board, these are ones that have long expressed their heart for such a move.
MKA: How is event planning/response coming along in the Age of COVID?
JC: We’re moving ahead to follow what we believe is God’s will. The Return’s central event will be on the National Mall on Sept. 26. But it will also take place throughout the country – in gatherings, churches, homes, etc. And it will take place throughout the Biblical Ten Days of Awe – Sept. 18, the Feast of Trumpets, to Sept. 28, the Day of Atonement [Jewish High Holidays]. Plus, it will be simulcast and streamed around the country and around the world. So it is set up to go forth no matter what.
MKA: Thank you, Rabbi Cahn, for your thoughtful and honest answers.
Prominent on The Return website and central to the event theme is the following Bible verse:
“For if my PEOPLE, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Practically everyone agrees that our land needs to be “healed.”
A friend told me he and his wife are attending the prayer event because “the state of the nation and God’s instructions on what the PEOPLE need to do to have their land healed” mirrors that famous verse.
I pray that mission will be accomplished without political interference.
Myra Adams is a media producer and conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. She is also Executive Director of www.SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to educating people about the Shroud of Turin. Contact: [email protected] or on Twitter @MyraKAdams.