Joseph Kaczmarek, Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Thousands of conservative Christians gathered Saturday on Independence Mall in Philadelphia to pray for the future of the United States in the weeks before the presidential election.
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins topped a full day of speakers at "The America for Jesus 2012" prayer rally.
Robertson, a former Republican candidate for president, called the election important, but didn't mention either major political party or candidate by name.
"I don't care what the ACLU says or any atheists say. This nation belongs to Jesus, and we're here today to reclaim his sovereignty," said Robertson, 82, who founded the Christian Coalition and Christian Broadcasting Network, and ran for president in 1988.
Organizers plan another prayer rally Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C., two weeks before President Barack Obama faces Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential election.
Perkins asked the crowd to pray for elected officials including Obama.
"We pray that his eyes will be open to the truth," Perkins said.
A number of event organizers, though, have been vocal critics of the Democratic president.
Steve Strang, the influential Pentecostal publisher of Charisma magazine, which was distributed at the rally, recently wrote in a blog post that America is under threat from a "radical homosexual agenda." He also said Obama "seems to be moving toward some form of European socialism."
And speaker Cindy Jacobs has blamed a mysterious Arkansas bird-kill last year on Obama's repeal of the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell," which allows gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
Speakers throughout the day condemned abortion, gay marriage and population control as practiced by Planned Parenthood. Christian rock music filled the historic mall as speakers challenged the crowd to overcome the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and slothfulness.
The rally was held outside of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Pennsylvania is also where evangelist George Whitefield preached during the first Great Awakening, the 18th-century religious revival that spread through the American colonies.
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