Thousands rally against gay marriage in Calif.

JUDY LIN  |  Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Thousands of Christian conservatives spent 12 hours Saturday, Sept. 4 praying and fasting in front of the state Capitol at a gathering organizers described as spiritual repentance “when there is no hope for a nation.”

The daylong religious event titled, “TheCall to Conscience,” was led by Lou Engle as well as other pastors and speakers to protest gay marriage, pornography and abortion. Many of those attending slapped red “Life” stickers over their shirts and set up blankets and folding chairs facing a large stage with banners that read: “Only One Hope God.”

People close to the front of the stage held up their hands when called to prayer. They jumped and danced to musical performances between sermons. The gathering filled the west lawn of the state Capitol and hundreds of people spilled into the next block, but the rest of Capitol Mall’s five-block-long lawn went unused despite large screens and barricades set up for the occasion.

Offering stations were set up throughout the area.

Ken and Antoinette Rodrigues, who described themselves as born-again Christians, drove in from Fremont to attend Saturday’s rally after their daughter-in-law saw it over the Internet.

“It’s a little more blunt than I anticipated, not that I’m opposed to that, but the things they are speaking, it’s bold, very bold,” said Antoinette Rodrigues, 48. “But I feel that it’s very appropriate and timely.”

Engle said it was the 17th fast hosted by TheCall in 10 years. Previous events have been held in New York, Boston and Nashville, Tenn., as well as in other parts of California such as Pasadena and San Francisco. It follows a similar prayer march and rally to a Houston abortion clinic back in January.

The Sacramento event, Engle said, helped to highlight immoral laws being passed out of the Capitol and called on traditional marriage to be restored.

“If marriage is going to be upheld between a man and a woman, which we believe is the best for families and children and society, then right now, it seems we need divine intervention,” Engle said in an interview between appearances on stage. “That’s part of the reason we’re coming here, to pray, but also to take a stand and be a prophetic voice to stand for truth.”

Last month Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. The measure approved by 52 percent of California voters in November 2008 amended the state Constitution to outlaw same-sex unions five months after the state Supreme Court legalized them.

The state has until Sept. 11 to challenge Walker’s ruling. Both Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have said they don’t plan an appeal.

Telephone calls to Equality California weren’t immediately returned Saturday.

—  John Wright