When controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones confirmed
his plans to attend a rally in Lansing, reader underdog5056 asked, “Who
in the world invited this goon in the first place?”

That would be James Terpening.

Terpening was quick to clarify that the Sept. 7 rally on the steps of the State Capitol in Lansing an event he planned   and Jones is an invited speaker.

“The rally is the founding public event for my organization, Operation Freedom’s Tree,” Terpening said.

Terpening, 34, said he invited Jones to speak after
becoming acquainted with the pastor through mutual friends in the days
following Jones’ visit in Dearborn.

Operation Freedom’s Tree will aim to get people more
involved in the political process. The United States government has been
“distorted” so that it is no longer a people’s government, but a
government’s government, Terpening said.

“We need to get people to get involved and stay involved and not just tune out,” Terpening said.

Terpening will launch his organization’s website,, on Aug. 22. The site will feature
educational information, contact information for elected officials,
suggestions for getting involved in the civic process and a list of
steps to take to get resolution on an issue.

In many ways, the Sept. 7 rally in Lansing is a debutante
party for his organization. Terpening said he has invited a slew of
political officials and confirmed a few, too, but isn’t at liberty to
divulge specifics just yet.

However, the nascent group has received strong support, Terpening said.

“We already have several hundred people involved behind the scenes,” he said.

Terpening is hoping to leverage that support into monthly
meetings and rallies. Just don’t mistake his group for another offshoot
of the Republican Party or the Tea Party.

“We’re basically fed up with the system that we live in,”
said Terpening, who listed over-taxation as a major issue. “Politicians
in office tell us what we want to hear, then make deals with each other
based on what keeps them in office and protects their special

Terpening said he hopes that his organization is able to change that.

“I’m worried about what the future is going to be like for
my children and my grandchildren, and all the children and
grandchildren that are out there right now," Terpening said.