By John McDevitt and Oren Liebermann

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Christian group organized a massive gathering at Independence Mall Saturday to pray for the future of the nation.

Among the “America for Jesus 2012” crowd was Jennifer Merritt (photo) of Virginia. She was with her group called the Wailing Woman Ministry.

jennifer merritt rally 2012 9 29 12 Christian Right Election Year Rally Fills Independence Mall

(Credit: John McDevitt)

“We are here to surrender to God. Amen.”

Reverend Jeff Beacham of Firepower Ministries International took to the stage to talk about overcoming envy.

“So there is competition; there is jealousies and we want to repent of those things. Plus the other six of the seven deadly sins and hopefully that will bring a freshness and a shift in the spiritual realm that will become evident and manifest in the physical realm.”

Organizers say the event is to pray for a turnaround of a nation that is on a spiritual decline.

“Our nation is in great need of spiritual revival,” Pastor Brian Mcgrouty said, “so we felt like this was necessary. We felt compelled to be part of this.”

Christian conservatives who blame “moral depravity” for everything from the recession to terrorism hope the rally will spark a religious revival as Election Day nears.

National coordinator John Blanchard says the two-day event that started Friday night is nonpartisan. It’s modeled after the 1980 “Washington for Jesus” rally, considered a pivotal show of organizational strength by the then-fledgling Christian right.

Attendees insisted this was about religion, not politics even with the election just 40 days away. While religious conviction united the Old City crowd, there were still many political differences.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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