To most Glenn Beck fans, Saturday's "828 Restoring Honor" rally was a success. Supporters surrounded the reflecting pool, as the conservative lightning rod ditched his tri-cornered political commentator's hat and donned a religious one instead.
"This is like a big revival," Cherrie Welch said minutes before Beck took the stage. She attended the rally with her husband, Tracy. "Sorta like a huge non-secular revival." Tracy insisted that he was not a tea party member.
While Beck did not promote a religion, and his supporters were hesitant to use that word, his speech focused on America's need to "turn to God." It was a sentiment that was echoed by Beck fans.
"He's down to where we must put our faith back in God and we must get back to what we were founded on," Anthony Foster said. "The true foundation of the country -- that's where God comes in."
"This country was created by God, our creator. The problem is, the country is becoming Godless," said Greg Rinehart. "[Beck] said that a lot of people have lost Christ. The country is on the verge of becoming chaotic."
When Beck took the stage, he set the tone that this would be anything but a secular event. "We must go to God boot camp." The event opened with a prayer and closed with a prayer and a rendition of Amazing Grace. Beck urged his audience to pray more.
Anyone looking for an "Obama is a racist" moment would have been disappointed, as neither President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) or any other politician was mentioned. It was by design; Beck urged his supporters not to bring signs to the event (virtually all did not), and the Fox News and radio host did not talk politics.
"Glenn [Beck] said it would not be, and it wasn't," said Foster.
"I thought it would be more like a political agenda," said Al Floyd, 25. This reporter first spotted Floyd stretched out atop two portable toilets, watching between the trees because he was unable to get a good vantage point from the crowd. He left his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. at 2 a.m. with his uncle, Rickey Martin.
"Ya gotta have faith in God or you'll fall for anything," Martin said. He said that he knew it would not be a political rally, which "helped the rally." He said that he never thought of Beck as a religious figure, nor would he begin thinking of him as a religious leader, "Just honest. Just the only honest figure in the media."
Beck's claim that the event, which was first promoted as a Civil Rights rally in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr, then a salute to the troops, and finally as a world-changing event was met with of skepticism by Ben Franklin impersonator Wayne Massillon.
"I'm Glenn Beck," Massillon said while patting himself on the back, a gesture mocking Beck's sense of self-importance. "'I'm going to change the world.' It's not going to be an earth-changing, world shaking event."
"I think that what changes the world is that each human being gets up and says to themselves 'what am I going to do that's significant and important for myself, for my family, for the society," Massillon said. "We seem to want heroes, whether it's Glenn Beck or Brett Farve. The heroes in America are us."
After Beck finished, some tea party members crossed the mall to get to Michele Bachmann's political "tea party" rally, which featured, among others, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R- Texas). At the rally, Bachmann urged members to not "vote everyone out of office," as there were "deserving members" that she said should stay around.
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