DETROIT — A coalition of Detroit clergy and community activists plan to march to a downtown football stadium and hold a prayer rally while thousands gather inside for a 24-hour Christian prayer event known as TheCall.
The gathering inside Ford Field espouses anti-Muslim, anti-homosexual and anti-abortion beliefs and is designed to separate people of various faiths, the Rev. Charles Williams II told reporters Wednesday.
TheCall is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday. Organizers have said on the event's website that Detroit is a "microcosm of our national crisis" that includes economic and racial struggles, as well as "the rising tide of the Islamic movement."
Detroit-area Muslim leaders have said they fear some attendees might provoke or disrupt Friday prayers at local mosques. The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter had urged mosques and Islamic schools to increase security.
"We do not agree with the spread of a message of hate, but a message of peace and a message of love," said Williams, pastor of Historic King Solomon Church in Detroit. "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.
"We certainly don't believe that the Muslim community is what cast a dark shadow over the city of Detroit in terms of economics."
Fears of TheCall taking on an anti-Muslim tone are uncalled for, said Apostle Ellis Smith, of Detroit's Jubilee City Church in Detroit, which is promoting the event on its website.
"Our focus will be on Ford Field, not visiting a mosque," Smith told The Associated Press Wednesday. "We're not praying against Muslims. We are going to be praying against terrorism that has its roots in Islam. We're dealing with extremism. We're against extremism when it comes to Christians."
Williams said the Detroit coalition will march from a small park that for the past few weeks has been home to a group of people protesting Wall Street's and banks' roles in the country's foreclosure crisis. Members of Occupy Detroit also are expected to join the group of clergy for Friday's prayer outside Ford Field.
"Our prayer will be a prayer where we will be calling on God to help us solve the foreclosure crisis," Williams said. "To help us solve the job crisis; to help us solve the education crisis. This is the prayer we should be calling on, not a message of hate against those who are United States residents."
Smith said that contrary to the beliefs of the coalition behind Friday's planned march and prayer outside the stadium, worshippers inside Ford Field will be "praying against anything that is taking away from the focus of what the church should really be about."
"The main theme is repentance," he said. "The church is repenting for allowing what is happening in this country for taking place under our watch."