An estimated 8,000 people gathered on Independence Mall Friday through Saturday for "America for Jesus 2012," a conservative Christian rally organized by religious coalition One Nation Under God, sponsors of the "Washington for Jesus" prayer revivals of the 1980s and 90s.
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Event organizers declared America to be "in a state of emergency," as evidenced by the economic downturn and "the symptoms of widespread moral depravity." They claimed that religion is the only possible source of relief.
The massive prayer fest, which was convened to address the country's "spiritual drift," didn't endorse a party or candidate, but rather called for a nationwide movement rooted in "Bible-based righteousness" over partisan politics, according to a release from the organizers.
Festivities kicked off with a youth rally and Christian rock concert Friday night, then continued Saturday with a nine-hour prayer rally titled "Save the Nation: A National Solemn Assembly." Two giant screens were constructed on the 500 block of Chestnut Street, where speakers like Family Research Council President Tony Perkins appeared and video messages were projected from the likes of televangelist Joel Osteen.
A fairly diverse throng of attendees waved Christian, American and Israeli flags as they chanted, sang and, of course, prayed.
If the participants were diverse, the message was anything but. Though speakers rarely even mentioned a politician by name, they consistently pushed a socially conservative agenda, condemning abortion and gay marriage and blaming the supposedly deteriorating state of the country on the seven deadly sins.
Event organizers urged attendees to turn away from concerns of the terrestrial world – including politics – and back to God. "As you gather in this historic place, which gave birth to our nation’s Declaration of Independence, may your presence give birth to a new declaration for our nation, a declaration of dependence upon almighty God,” Rev. Billy Graham said in a statement read during the two-day event.
Pat Robertson of the 700 Club said the nation's destiny will be decided in the church house, not in the White House. “We will never change America through politics," he said. "We will only change America through a mighty outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.”