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, reports chron.com. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins topped a full day of speakers at The America for Jesus 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. Organizers plan another prayer rally Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C., two weeks before President 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 were vocal critics of the Democratic president, however. Publisher Steve Strang has warned that America is under threat from a “radical homosexual agenda.” He also said Obama “seems to be moving toward some form of European socialism.” Speakers throughout the day condemned abortion, gay marriage, and population control as practiced by Planned Parenthood. 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. Meanwhile, leaders at Assemblies of God USA, one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the nation, say the country is facing a time of crisis like no other and are asking Christians to join them in a “7:14 Prayer Initiative” (based on 2 Chronicles 7:14) beginning today (Sept. 30) and continuing through the presidential election, reports The Christian Post.

Other news:

  • The Obama campaign has launched a series of electronic greeting cards for women to use to promote the campaign’s message, and one has conservatives rolling their eyes because of its absurdity, reports lifenews.com. “President Obama summed up the Republican Party’s approach to women’s health when he said ‘they want to take us back to the policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century,’” the Obama campaign web page claims. “Send an eCard to say you won’t go back.” One of the greeting cards attacks Romney for wanting to overturn Obamacare, claiming it will force women to find alternative sources of funds to pay for birth control, instead of getting it free from government handouts. “Dear Mom,” the card reads. “Mitt Romney says he would repeal the Affordable Care Act. So here’s a quick question: Can I borrow $18,000 to help pay for my birth control? Thanks!” The number is supposedly based on the lifetime costs of the typical woman who uses birth control regularly. The other two e-cards in the series are meant to continue stirring up the so-called War on Women meme.
  • FactChecker, a monthly series that examines claims, myths, and misunderstandings frequently heard in evangelical circles is saying that the idea being promoted that Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as non-Christians is grossly inaccurate, reports thegospelcoalition.org. It is used to explain that Christians are not doing well in living out their faith. But it could also be taken as a statement that redemption by and real discipleship under Jesus makes no real difference when it comes to marriage. But mainstream sociologists would tell us that taking one’s faith very seriously—in word and deed—does indeed make a marked positive difference in the health and longevity of marriage. Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population. A number of sources are cited, including W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, who finds from his own analysis that “active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.
  • PBS’s NewsHour omitted President Obama’s support for the so-called blasphemy law, reports newsbusters.org. Anchor Gwen Ifill invited Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass and former U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns to discuss President Barack Obama’s foreign policy and his recent address to the UN. Reporter Judy Woodruff also had a segment on the president’s speech. None of the segments dealing with the address mentioned the fact that the Obama administration has expressed support for anti-blasphemy measures that are completely incongruous with the freedom of speech as protected by the U.S. Constitution. Obama’s critics on this front are not just conservatives, said the report, which cited liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who wrote in USA Today that “around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.” The report noted that “at his inauguration, like all his predecessors, President Obama swore to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ the Constitution of the United States, including the First Amendment. Actions of his administration that undercut that protection deserve to be covered thoroughly by the media, especially taxpayer-subsidized media like PBS.”
  • Millions of students across the country and globally participated in the annual “See You at the Pole” event at their schools last Wednesday, praying for a spiritual awakening, the theme chosen for the 22nd annual prayer rally. “If two or more people join together and pray for something, that can move mountains and I love that,” Illinois high school student Lasha Lobo told The Christian Post. “I love that I can go to school without feeling like I’m drowning in the sea of high school.” See You at the Pole, the global day of student prayer, began in 1990 as a grass roots movement with 10  students praying at their school. More than two decades later, millions around the world pray on their campuses on the fourth Wednesday in September. Organizers say SYATP is simply a prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before school to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God. SYATP is a student-initiated, student-organized, and student-led event. The See You at the Pole theme this year was “Awaken,” and the Scripture was Ephesians 3:14–21, which reads: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father. . . . I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts. . . . And I pray that you . . . grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and . . . that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” SYATP organizer Doug Clark told CP this year’s event was important. “Our nation, with all the division that we have right now, really needs a moral and spiritual awakening. Part of See You at the Pole is a call to the Body of Christ, including parents to be involved in an extraordinary commitment to pray,” Clark said. He urges parents, teachers, and Christian leaders to continue encouraging students to consider and pray about how they can reach their campus and be missionaries at their school.
  • Most pastors keep silent on election issues for fear of violating the so-called Johnson Amendment, passed in 1954, when then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D) wanted to silence churches and conservative nonprofit groups who opposed his candidacy. Attorney Erik Stanley of the Alliance Defending Freedom tells OneNewsNow that means pastors are the only ones who do not have constitutionally protected freedom of speech. “It’s outrageous for pastors and churches to be threatened or punished by the government for applying biblical teaching to all areas of life, including candidates and elections,” Stanley contends. “The real question is who should decide the content of sermons: pastors or the IRS?” The attorney asserts that no one should have to surrender a constitutional right to be a pastor. Well over 1,000 pastors—nearly double last year—have signed up to defy the IRS this Sunday by preaching about the moral issues of the campaign and the candidates’ stances. If the IRS takes action against any of them, Alliance Defending Freedom will provide representation in order to overturn the amendment, which Stanley says is clearly unconstitutional.
  • Voter registration deadlines are approaching, reports Baptist Press, with a few swing states setting the limit at Oct. 9, and pro-family groups are emphasizing the need for Christians to participate in the upcoming election. Champion the Vote estimates that out of 60 million Christians in the United States, only 30 million of them vote in any given election or are even registered to vote. “With most elections being decided by smaller and smaller margins, we cannot win the public debate over the critical issues of faith, family and freedom if like-minded Americans stay home on Election Day,” the Family Research Council said on ivotevalues.org. Meeting the challenges facing the nation will require a greater level of commitment from believers than has been necessary in generations, FRC said in explaining the importance of its get-out-the-vote effort. “Politics is not a hobby like scrapbooking. Getting involved should not be an option. Politics, whether we like it or not, affects every area of our lives,” columnist Sudi Kate Gliebe, cofounder of Patriots’ Campaign Ministry, wrote for Baptist Press Sept. 21. “‘We the people’ means that all of us are responsible to preserve our republic.” Voter registration deadlines for key states in the upcoming presidential election, according to FRC, are as follows: Colorado: Oct. 9; Florida: Oct. 9; Iowa: Oct. 26; Nevada: Oct. 16; New Hampshire: Oct. 27; North Carolina: Oct. 12; Ohio: Oct. 9; Virginia: Oct. 15; and Wisconsin: Oct. 17.
  • The lead organization seeking to promote the passage of a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman is preparing to launch two television ads that will run during the final weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 elections, reports The Christian Post. “We are certain our ads will help Minnesotans understand the importance of preserving marriage in our constitution,” said John Helmberger, chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, in a written statement. “Our ads ask an important question: ‘Who should decide the definition marriage.’ Like most Minnesotans, we think it should be the people, not judges or politicians. In fact, right now there is a court case pending in Hennepin County through which same-sex couples are asking judges to redefine marriage. Powerful legislators want to do the same thing. If they succeed, voters will have lost their say,” he said. Minnesota is one of four battleground states where the issue of same-sex marriage is on the ballot in November in some form. Others include Maryland, Maine, and Washington. Voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and woman in May of this year despite objections from President Obama.
  • On, Tuesday, Oct. 30, over two thousand schools across the nation will be observing “Mix It Up” day, reports the American Family Association. MIT is a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools. A strong focus is directed specifically to elementary and junior high grades. MIT is a project of “the fanatical pro-homosexual group, Southern Poverty Law Center,” says the AFA. “This is the same organization that launched hateful and malicious rhetoric toward the Family Research Council just prior to the August shooting of a security guard by a SPLC sympathizer.” The AFA said it is joining other family-oriented groups in urging parents to keep their children at home that day if their local school is sponsoring the “Mix It Up” project. The AFA is providing a list of schools it finds out is sponsoring the day. The AFA maintains that the Southern Poverty Law Center “is using this project to bully-push its gay agenda, and at the same time, intimidate and silence students who have a Biblical view of homosexuality.”