On Capital Grounds, Thousands of Teens Rally for Jesus
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Thousands of teen-agers and young adults _ many singing hymns and wearing T-shirts with religious slogans _ jammed the Capitol Monday to declare their faith in Jesus and ``revive our nation’s consciousness.″
Organizers had predicted up to 250,000 people for the two-day ``Washington for Jesus″ rally, but far fewer were on hand by late Monday afternoon. The National Park Police said no crowd estimate would be available until after Tuesday’s events.
Chartered buses from as far away as California and Texas rimmed the Capitol grounds. Many of the young people set up tents or unrolled sleeping bags in preparation for speeches and music scheduled to go on all night.
Some participants wore T-shirts identifying youth or religious clubs or with such slogans as ``On Fire for Jesus.″ Others sang hymns and carried signs quoting the Bible.
The rally was set up by One Nation Under God Inc., a nonprofit group based in Virginia Beach, Va., that organizes evangelical rallies around the country. Monday’s events were targeted at teens and young adults, while the second day was expected to draw people of all ages.
Among the 20 or so reggae, gospel, grunge and rock bands entertaining the crowd Monday was Spin Cycle, a Florida-based alternative rock group. While they played, a ``mosh pit″ formed to the side of the stage with listeners dancing and jumping up and down.
Actress Kim Norris, 29, who has appeared on TV’s ``Seinfeld″ and ``Northern Exposure,″ told the crowd that Christianity was not ``some stodgy right-wing religion.″
``It’s a fun-packed, wild and crazy adventure,″ she said.
Others told how their faith had kept them from drugs, alcohol and premarital sex.
``We are here to revive our nation’s consciousness,″ said Mikendra Baumann, a 20-year-old student at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. ``It’s a message to these guys to stand firm in what they believe.″
Baumann opened the rally with a reading from the ``Student’s Creed,″ a statement she helped to write that condemns abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex and divorce.
Scheduled speakers Tuesday included Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Norma McCorvey, the plantiff in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision who has become an outspoken abortion opponent.
Organizers said the rally was intended to show America that its young people aren’t as aimless and apathetic as they often are portrayed.
``People talk about this generation as Generation X, as a generation that doesn’t really care,″ said Robin Blanchard, the rally’s youth coordinator. ``But we hope people see this is a generation that has a purpose and a future.″