Since TheBlaze reported Pastor Robert Dekker's planned "Line in the Sand" July 4 service on Rehoboth Beach, Del., the story has gained national attention.
Glenn Beck, in fact, interviewed Dekker on his Monday radio program, during which Dekker further explained his goals after the town denied his permit request to hold a series of eight church services on the beach this summer.
Well, the service happened this morning as planned, with around 1,500 people showing up for what Dekker called a Freedom Rally, which included music, speeches and prayer. The Cape Gazette reported that Rehoboth Beach sanctioned the rally.
It even drew two residents of Joplin, Mo., the town hit by a devastating tornado in 2011, noted the Gazette.
“We love freedom,” John Putnam told the Gazette. “My great uncle was the battle commander at Bunker Hill. I have a long heritage. We both have a connection with Pastor Dekker from the standpoint of America’s freedom and freedom in Jesus Christ.”
John Greenlaw, a Vietnam veteran who flew in with Putnam for the rally, lost his home in the tornado.
A portion of the beach was sectioned off, but the crowd reportedly became too large, and participants and onlookers lined the dune-crossing and the boardwalk in front of a small stage, the Gazette noted, adding that the Rehoboth police dispatch center received no complaints.
"Freedom is to be cherished," Dekker told the crowd. "Not defiant but determined. True freedom is not by revolution but by revelation, not by demonstration but by redemption."
The Cape Gazette noted that Dekker shared the biblical account of a woman caught in adultery and condemned to be stoned; but Jesus drew a line in the sand and asked those without sin to cast the first stone. The woman celebrated her freedom and was told by Jesus to sin no more, Dekker said, adding that none of us can take our freedom lightly...but it also means no more condemnation.
While many clearly enjoyed the proceedings, not everyone was thrilled.
Newark, Del., residents Bob and Suzay Cross said while they were not opposed to the rally, they would have preferred to see “less religion and more patriotism,” the Cape Gazette reported.
Bob Cross said seeing so much religion in a public event was discomforting for people who just wanted to come down to the beach and relax; Suzay Cross added: “If you’re Muslim, Jewish or atheist you’re forced to hear this, and that’s not American. As long as they focus on patriotism and not religion, it’s not too bad.”
Here's a video of the gathered crowd singing "God Bless America," via DelmarvaNow: