Originally posted at Alaska Dispatch News by Michelle Theriault Boots.
Two of the biggest names in conservative Christian thought are coming to Anchorage this weekend to speak to audiences at religious and political events.
Ravi Zacharias and Dinesh D’Souza are among speakers scheduled to address the Alaska Republican Assembly’s “Freedom Rising” event on Saturday at the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage, which event organizers hope will energize Alaska’s Christian conservative base.
Zacharias is a Canadian-American scholar who is known as the leading Christian apologist, or defender of the faith.
The author of numerous books and head of an international ministry, Zacharias has drawn thousands or even tens of thousands to his speaking events in the past.
“He’s on par with Billy Graham in terms of apologetics and defending the faith,” said Jim Minnery, the head of the Alaska Family Council, a conservative Christian group that is sponsoring a $100-per-plate lunch and lecture fundraiser at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub Monday featuring Zacharias.
Daniel Hamm of the Alaska Republican Assembly, which is based in Mat-Su and bills itself as the “Republican wing of the Republican Party,” said he and others first started trying to get Zacharias to Alaska more than two years ago.
Zacharias has been to Alaska a few times before, including once as the keynote speaker of the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, Minnery said.
So far, the Alaska Republican Assembly has sold about 500 tickets to Saturday’s “Freedom Rising” event. A crowd of 800 to 1,000 people is expected, Hamm said. Tickets for the event can be purchased on the Alaska Republican Assembly’s website.
Zacharias is also slated to speak at the Anchorage Baptist Temple on Sunday.
Dinesh D’Souza, the other headline speaker of the Alaska Republican Assembly’s “Freedom Rising” event, is a political commentator and filmmaker known for his criticism of the Democratic Party and liberalism. D’Souza’s website also calls him a “brilliant and forceful defender of Christianity.”
A onetime policy adviser to Ronald Reagan, he has written bestselling books and produced films such as “2016: Obama’s America,” which critics called a partisan hit-piece but became a surprise box-office hit. D’Souza’s film “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” will be released this summer.
The organizers of the “Freedom Rising” event hope high-profile speakers like Zacharias and D’Souza will engage the voters that make up their base, according to Hamm.
The Republican presidential preference poll in Alaska drew higher turnout than usual, due in large part to “the Trump effect,” Hamm said.
“But 12 percent to 18 percent (participation) is still pretty low,” he said.
“We have these speakers that nationally draw huge crowds,” Hamm said. “We’re trying to get people excited.”
Read more at Alaska Dispatch News.
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