Pat Robertson and Tony Perkins were among the speakers at "The America for Jesus 2012" prayer rally in Philadelphia, Pa., this weekend who exhorted a crowd of around 10,000 people to pray for 40 days prior to the presidential election to reclaim the nation for God.
"I don't care what the ACLU says or any atheist says, this nation belongs to Jesus, and we're here today to reclaim His sovereignty," The Associated Press quoted Christian broadcaster Robertson as telling the gathering on Saturday at Independence Mall in Philadelphia.
Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and Christian Broadcasting Network, said the November election was important, but abstained from mentioning any party or candidate at the rally, which organizers said was nonpartisan.
"We are praying that God would touch America. We're not Democrats and Republicans. We're Christians," John Blanchard, the executive pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia and national coordinator for the event, was quoted as saying.
Robertson's speech was continually disrupted by pro-life protestor Rives Grogan, pastor of New Beginnings Christian Church in Los Angeles, Calif., who was holding up a plaque with several photos, philly.com reported. "Obama is sin. Support Mitt Romney," he shouted from the crowd. Robertson had to tell Grogan to "shut your mouth," saying "this is not political." He also told Grogan that he was disrespecting the prayer.
Family Research Council president Perkins urged the crowd to also pray for President Barack Obama. "We pray that his eyes will be open to the truth," said Perkins, who is on a nationwide "Your Money, Your Values, Your Vote" bus tour.
Other speakers at the rally, which started at 9 a.m. and went on until 5 p.m., spoke against abortion, same sex marriage and other issues. The rally also featured Christian rock music.
Nyree Reed, a participant from Willingboro, N.J., wept as she listened to speeches about the sex trade in Asia. "I feel we really failed God because we haven't been following the rules and the system that he set out for us," she was quoted as saying. "I'm not even thinking about the election right now. People need to be saved. People need to be helped."
The prayer event, held where the Declaration of Independence was signed, was organized by One Nation under God, a coalition of ministries that organized a similar series of events in Washington, D.C., during the 1980s and 1990s. The first, "Washington for Jesus," was attended by 500,000.
Earlier this month, the ministry coalition behind the event distributed food and offered medical care throughout Philadelphia as part of their outreach.
The event is a gathering of Christians representing all races, parties and denominations to pray for the healing of our nation and its people 40 days before America casts its vote for President, the organizers said while announcing the rally in February. "America's soul is sick, but I believe America still has a chance; I believe in resurrection, and I believe prayer changes things-and that is what we intend to do," said Bishop Anne Gimenez, pastor of Rock Church International in Virginia Beach, Va., and chairman of America for Jesus 2012. "It's not about who will be in the White House nor our current financial crisis, it's about America needing the presence of God."
Organizers plan another prayer rally on Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C., two weeks before Obama faces Republican Mitt Romney in the election.