Tens of thousands of Christians gathered for a 12-hour fasting and prayer rally on Saturday, asking God to guide the spiritual direction of the nation as the Election Day approaches.
A line-up of pastors throughout the day led over 30,000 participants of TheCall California in giving prayers of repentance – believed to be essential in triggering a spiritual revival.
"We come rending our hearts and garments," said Lou Engle, founder of TheCall. "We come as one body – the body of Christ – one voice crying out for mercy, God."
As music blasted throughout San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, church leaders offered a series of prayers that touched upon personal sins and politics. Some of the topics were focused on those struggling with purity, marital problems and pornography addiction.
San Diego joins a list of several metropolitan cities that have hosted TheCall prayer rallies, including New York, Dallas, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Kansas City. The events are usually held on important dates and draw tens of thousands each time. The first took place in Washington D.C. and drew over 400,000. Last year, on the holy date of 07/07/07, thousands converged for TheCall in Nashville. The prayer movement has also extended overseas to Australia, Germany, the Philippines, Norway, England and Israel.
For this past weekend's vigil, participants dedicated about a fifth of their prayers to protecting the sanctity of marriage. The gathering took place just three days ahead of Election Day, when California voters will decide the fate of a constitutional marriage amendment that would effectively banning gay marriage. The measure, known as Proposition 8, would amend the California Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Many participants were also a day away from completing a 40-day fast led by Engle for spiritual revival and the California marriage amendment. The event drew people from as far as New York and Alaska but most were from California.
Meanwhile, in protest of TheCall, opponents to Prop. 8 gathered in nearby Balboa Park for an interfaith service billed "Make the Right Call."
California has become the main battleground in the fight to protect traditional marriage because what is decided there is expected by many to set a precedent for other states. If approved, Prop. 8 would reverse the May decision by the state Supreme Court allowing gays to marry.
For the past several weeks, Engle had been visiting churches in San Diego, urging support for Prop. 8.
During the rally, Engle commented on significance of the issue, saying that Christians in the state "stand on a battlefield more significant than Iraq."
The controversial issue has alarmed California pastors, many of whom say that marriage is moral issue and not a political one. Pastors also say the rejection of the measure would jeopardize their religious freedom since they will be forced, against their moral convictions, to perform wedding ceremonies for gay couples to keep their church's tax-exempt status.
For many conservative Christians, only the biblical definition of marriage counts.
At TheCall California, participant Rene Lotta wore a bright yellow t-shirt that read: You can't change God's law. She is among those who believe there are great issues at stake if traditional marriage is re-defined.
"If we don't stand up for that, I think later on, we're gonna really reap the consequences of allowing same-sex marriage. The family is going to fall apart," said Lotta, according to NBC San Diego.
Several pastors speaking at the event also spoke about the unborn, in reference to Proposition 4, a ballot measure that would require parental-notification for minors seeking an abortion.
The entire event was broadcasted live by Christian network God TV and is available for viewing at www.god.tv.