The two-and-a-half-ton Ten Commandments monument made\n famous by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore came rolling\n into Washington, D.C., Oct. 22 for what was billed as a major rally of religious\n conservatives – but the expected hordes of rock devotees failed to materialze.
The daylong event, which press accounts reported cost more than $1 million\n to stage, was organized by Bishop John Gimenez, a Virginia pastor and longtime\n associate of TV preacher Pat Robertson.
Supporters gathered at 6 a.m. on the National Mall in front of an enormous\n stage to pray and fast for America. Attendees said they came to stave off what\n they described as America’s severe moral decline.
Organizers had expected 40,000 to 50,000 attendees, but turnout was much\n lower. Religion News Service put the crowd at “thousands.” But\n observers from Americans United, who dropped by to see the monument, reported\n that the crowd looked to be only several hundred.
Americans United and allied organizations sued Moore after he positioned\n the monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery\n in August of 2001.
Federal courts ruled that the religious display had to go, but Moore refused.\n His defiance led to his removal from the state high court.
The monument was put in storage for a while, but earlier this year, American\n Veterans in Domestic Defense (AVIDD), a Texas-based far-right organization,\n arranged to take the rock on a nationwide tour via flatbed truck. AVIDD\n had hoped to display the monument in the U.S. Capitol, but that scheme apparently\n failed.
Websites and materials promoting the “America for Jesus” rally\n had played up the appearance of Moore’s monument. However, those who\n turned out to gaze at the monument had to work hard to find it. Event staff\n seemed unaware that the rock was even there.
Asked by an AU staffer about the location of the monument, a man staffing\n a press tent pointed to the back of the crowd, past a row of portable toilets\n and declared, “It’s over there.”
Although the rally was billed as non-partisan, the pro-Bush tilt was clear.\n Bush/Cheney signs littered the grounds, and several attendees told reporters\n they considered Bush’s re-election essential.
The event was one of two held in the nation’s capital prior to the\n election to mobilize the conservative Christian vote. The first, billed as\n a “Mayday for Marriage,” was equally partisan.
The Oct. 15 “Mayday” rally, endorsed by an array of Religious\n Right organizations, was ostensibly intended to support a Federal Marriage\n Amendment that would ban same-sex unions. But comments by the Rev. Ken Hutcherson,\n a Washington state minister who organized the event, suggested a broader political\n agenda.
In an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published Oct.\n 14, Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Wash., said\n judges are legislating from the bench. He said he and his allies were going\n to work toward the removal of judges and those politicians who support same-sex\n marriage.
Observed Hutcherson, “We’re going to change your office window\n view.”
Asked if that’s why he and others were holding the rally 18 days before\n the general election, Hutcherson replied, “That’s why we’re\n holding the rally. Because politicians understand one thing: how to stay in\n office, whether they are Christians or not.”
Hutcherson said Christian voters must choose the lesser of two evils when\n it comes to this year’s elections.
“Right now,” he said, “I think the Republican Party\n is the lesser of two evils.”
Rally speakers included James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins\n of Family Research Council, Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship, Richard Land\n of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission,\n evangelist Anne Graham Lotz and Gary Bauer of American Values.