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Local prayer rally calls on religious to "push back"

While chaos and riots overtook the nation's Capitol building, a small, quiet and very religious prayer rally was held at noon Wednesday in front of the Liberty Bell on Truxtun Avenue.

The event was organized by local RiverLakes Community Church Pastor Angelo Frazier. He and a few attendees wore shirts with the event's message: "Push Back."

But people at the gathering didn't exactly define what they were pushing against, other than they were concerned about the presidential election.

Street evangelist Tom Alexander brought his 10-foot cross. Frazier strummed the guitar while a small gathering sang hymns, such as "How Great Thou Art." Attendees shared their favorite Bible verses, testimony about fighting COVID-19 or other personal struggles.

The event had the feel of an intimate religious service more than a political rally. The names of politicians weren't readily visible on flags or signs, and they weren't mentioned, even if it wasn't far from their minds. 

Jacquie Sullivan, a longtime Bakersfield city councilwoman who recently retired from that post, said she attended because she enjoys being at gatherings such as these and supports Frazier's work. 

"I feel that it's important we elect people with a strong faith in God," she said in an interview.

Frazier passed out a sort of spin on the Prayer of St. Francis: "When there is deception and hypocrisy / Push back with transparency and facts / When there is unrighteous anger / Push back with righteous anger / In the face of mob rule / Push back with law and order."

Frazier said, in an interview, that he wanted an investigation into the past election, because he believes an inquiry would help restore trust in the government.

"I think the public trust has been shattered," he said. "We need to be healed."

But he said that Wednesday's prayer rally was less about coming up with a particular political platform than coming together in prayer.

"I believe God changes hearts," he said. "God is bigger than this election."

Attendee Wayne Wong said he hears about different political rallies going on in the community, but he believes that God led him to Wednesday's prayer rally because he knew people there and knew they would be praising God.

"It's a place of peace in the storm," he said.

Wednesday's rally was held at about the same time that pro-Trump rioters were breaking into the Capitol, and reports were coming in about what was happening. Frazier said he doesn't advocate violence.

"We call for people to get informed," he said. "Argue from a place of wisdom, not ignorance."

Frazier said he believes in a two-party system whose ultimate authority is in God.

"I pray for leaders on both sides," he said. "I pray we could get back to a place where we can trust our government."