Coverage has varied in its description of the ritual performed, but the main elements seem to have been marking the lintels and doors of the room, invocation of the names of all figures to be involved in the proceedings, anointing of seats with oil in conjunction with an invitation of a God into the room to watch over and influence affairs, and a final symbolic marking on the main door upon exit, along with profuse prayer and possible breaking-and-entering. Online religion-journalism magazine The Revealer has linked to a few sources and offered commentary on the political and activist-group affiliations of the ministers involved.
What can we glean about the current state of religious affairs, especially as they relate to governance, by studying this act?
Is it categorizable (as I would be inclined to argue) as magic? Has there been an increase in what might be called magical thinking or magical logic in the contemporary American Protestant or Fundamentalist movements, and if so, is it linked to a general rise in magical thinking in either American or greater Western culture? Is this another sort of phenomenon entirely? How do we feel about the potential use of magical acts--or, to a different degree, prayer, especially if we are inclined to see prayer as an efficacious act--to influence democratic processes; what are the moral implications of such activity? Is this sort of activism an acceptable form of participation in republican government?
Further, is the coverage of this act influenced to any great degree by the religion of the actors--would the news have been as generous, or the law as lenient, if the oil used were consecrated to Apollo, the deity invited to watch over and move the proceedings Oshun, or the symbols marked on the doors and lintels pentacles, Hermetic lettering, or Arabic calligraphy? If the seats had been anointed with blood, ash, or any other common ritual alternative? More indulgent, as the enforcers of law and public opinion might be disinclined to view the deities invoked as real or efficacious compared to Jesus or YHVH, or more punitive, due to the minority status of non-Christian or non-mainstream religious groups in America? Has this sort of thing been going on for a long time under the radar, and only recently deemed newsworthy, or is it a new development in the functions of American religious expression?
I find this whole constellation of ideas fascinating, and there are, of course, many, many more questions to be fiddled with, here.