Magazine article Insight on the News

The Christian Soldiers March on Washington

Magazine article Insight on the News

The Christian Soldiers March on Washington

Article excerpt

It was one of those stupendous experiences you'll never forget as hundreds of thousands of men assembled on the Washington Mall broke into Martin Luther's great hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." They were there for the Oct. 4 sacred assembly, "Stand in the Gap," to which Promise Keepers came from all over, carrying signs. One said simply "Idaho," and a Hispanic man had a sign that read "Pray for Arizona Hispanics."

There were counterdemonstrators, too, mostly women from the National Organization for Women and other assorted feminists carrying their own placards, some of them declaring, "The Bible Does Not Justify Hatred" and "PK is not PC," meaning, Promise Keepers aren't politically correct.

Both claims certainly were true but seemed totally beside the point because I saw no signs of hatred in that enormous gathering, and the Promise Keepers, as far as I know, have never made the claim of being politically correct.

What was mostly on the minds of these men were their own shortcomings as husbands, fathers and brothers, the many sins they had committed and their own joy at the discovery of a forgiving God they know will help them mend those lives for the better.

This reporter walked the length and breadth of the rally, which ran in a solid, unbroken phalanx of men from the west steps of the Capitol to the Washington Monument and beyond, a distance of more than a mile. What photographs and television coverage of the event weren't able to capture was the joy these men expressed as individuals and their extraordinary politeness, unusual in so large a gathering where tempers can flare quickly, especially on the hot, humid Washington day that it was.

These men prayed in groups of five or six, arms joined, heads bowed. In some instances, fathers prayed with sons. Some men wore T-shirts declaring, "Real Men Love Jesus," "Real Men Pray" and "Jesus Christ Is Life ... the Rest Is Basketball." I also saw T-shirts with readings from Scripture such as "How Blessed It Is When Brothers Dwell Together in Unity," which proved to be one of the major themes of the day, because this was a gathering of white men, black men, American Indians, Hispanics and men from almost every possible income level and job description.

Typical was 39-year-old Mike Sanford from Midlothian, Va., south of Richmond. Sanford, a Baptist, was one of 42 men who made the trip from his town of 950 souls. A father of two who runs an insurance and financial-services company, Mike came to Washington because he's a Christian, he told me, and because he believes men must learn to be good fathers and good husbands. …

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