Liberty Counsel, the conservative Christian law firm representing defiant Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, insisted Monday that 100,000 people showed up to a Peruvian prayer rally in solidarity with their client.
In a press release, Liberty Counsel attempted to debunk a report published earlier in the day by ThinkProgress that showed evidence the rally never actually happened.
The firm’s founder, Mat Staver, displayed what he said was an image of the prayer rally on Friday during the Values Voter Summit. He spoke before Davis, who was jailed for six days after defying court orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was presented with a “Cost of Discipleship Award.” The image’s caption said it was taken in Lima, Peru:
Mat Staver shows photo of prayer meeting of 100,000 people supporting Kim Davis in Lima, Peru soccer stadium. pic.twitter.com/VcY953yquY
— Chris Johnson (@chrisjohnson82) September 26, 2015
The same image was circulated the day before the Values Voter Summit by Matt Barber, who co-hosts the Liberty Counsel’s “Faith and Freedom” online radio show. Barber tweeted out the photo again Sunday, this time attributing the rally’s organization to Peruvian congressman Julio Rosas:
— Matt Barber (@jmattbarber) September 25, 2015
— Matt Barber (@jmattbarber) September 27, 2015
But ThinkProgress noted that Rosas hadn’t posted anything about a prayer rally in Davis’ honor to his Twitter or Facebook pages, although he did tweet his own words of support for the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk earlier this month.
The report also identified the stadium shown in the photo Staver displayed at the Values Voter Summit as the stadium at Lima’s National University of San Marcos. ThinkProgress noted a number of striking similarities between the photo and videos of a May 2014 “Jesús Te Ama Y Te Cambia” prayer rally in that same stadium. That prayer rally was organized by the pentecostal Movimiento Misionero Mundial, or Worldwide Missionary Movement, according to the report.
Staver did not respond to a request for comment from TPM about the rally.
Liberty Counsel then issued a press release Monday afternoon that noted Rosas, the Peruvian congressman, confirmed the rally’s existence to the firm three times. The release stated that Rosas organized the rally for Sept. 13, the day before Davis was released from jail. But Rosas was not present for the rally because the congressman traveled to the U.S. on Sept. 10, according to the release.
As for the photo, the press release said Staver mistook the location of the rally. The photo Staver showed at the event was actually taken on Sept. 13 at a soccer stadium in Northern Peru, not in Lima, according to the release.
Still, there appeared to be no news reports of a prayer rally held in solidarity with Davis anywhere in Peru. Liberty Counsel attributed that to cultural differences.
“While meetings of 70,000 to 100,000 Christians in a soccer stadium may shock people in the United States, they are much more common in Peru,” the release read. “Oftentimes such gatherings do not appear on traditional media any more than the weekly church services in the United States appear on television.”
Translation: we don’t have any proof beyond this photo, so take us at our word.