By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 31, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Concerned that religion is slipping from its time honored place at the heart of America, tens of thousands of Americans of all different faiths gathered in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. The massive crowd gathered in response to conservative icon Glenn Beck’s call for a fundamental restoration of traditional American values.

For Beck, the August 28 “Restoring Rally” was an ecumenical call that could serve to make the United States great again by bringing it back to God.

"Something that is beyond man is happening," Beck told the massive cheering audience, which was gathered at the same location (in front of the Lincoln Memorial) and on the anniversary of the date when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago.

"America today begins to turn back to God. For too long, this country has wandered in darkness," said Beck, who praised American icons like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as men of abiding faith, a component once considered essential to American greatness.

The Restoring Honor website described the event, saying, “We are calling on all church leaders to join with us in building a united community of constitutionally minded and Christ based patriots willing to push back against an overreaching federal government.”

While Beck is a Mormon, his event had the strong support of Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who shares Beck’s concern that belief in God is on the verge of being banished utterly from the U.S. public square.

Dobson was among a contingent of 240 ministers, priests, rabbis, and imams that recently gathered to promote the religious restoration of America in their congregations and in their communities. The group was named the “Black Robed Regiment”– a name alluding to the influence of American colonial preachers in the Revolutionary War against Great Britain.

Beck emphasized that the message of the rally was apolitical, and intended to promote a prayerful return to God in the nation. Virtually no signs were observable at the rally.

Dr. King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, was a featured speaker at the rally, and said Saturday’s ecumenical gathering of Americans to give public recognition to God fit in with his legacy.

"If my uncle Martin was here he would commend us for giving honor where honor was due and focus on the content of character, not the color of skin," she said, emphasizing, "We must rediscover the values and principles our fathers established."

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate also spoke, saying that giants like Washington, Lincoln, and King were all formed by “a solid rock foundation of faith in the one true God of justice.”

“It is so humbling to get to be here with you today, patriots – you who are motivated and engaged and concerned, knowing to never retreat,” Palin continued. “I must assume that you too know that we must not fundamentally transform America as some would want. We must restore America and restore her honor!”

Media estimates for the crowds pegged the number between 87,000 (CBS) to 500,000. The number is difficult to gauge precisely since the National Park Service no longer does crowd estimates.

Beck himself stated that he thought the crowd was at least 200,000 strong, and said he planned to compare photos of the crowds of the rally taken by the Associated Press (which declined to give a specific number) to another photo of a St. Louis, Missouri rally taken by the AP and estimated at 100,000 people.

However, CBS reports that the 87,000 figure comes from an independent firm, AirLivePhotos.com, that also burst the bubble surrounding assertions that over a million showed up at the Obama inauguration. Instead the company pegged the Inauguration crowd at 800,000.