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Beck Urges 'Restoring Honor' Rally Audience to Turn Back to God

American conservative commentator Glenn Beck has encouraged supporters at his rally in Washington to turn back to God and restore honor to the country.

Beck said America is at "a crossroads."   He said Americans must decide "who we are and what it is we believe."  He called on attendees at the so-called "Restoring Honor" event to reject hatred, adding that "there is a lot we can disagree on, but our values and principles can unite us."

Tens of thousands of people crowded around the Lincoln Memorial, listening to speakers at the rally.

The gathering was mainly focused on religious values and paying tribute to American military personnel.  Beck encouraged attendees to donate money to a Florida-based nonprofit group, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which organizers said will receive all contributions from the rally after expenses.

Civil rights activists and other critics have questioned Beck's motives for holding the rally on the 47th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and at the same location.

Beck insists the timing is coincidental, but has called it "divine providence."  

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin also addressed the crowd.  She said she came to speak not as a politician, but as the mother of a soldier.  She called on the crowd to invoke the moral courage of American leaders like President Lincoln and slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to restore America and make this day "the change point" for the country.

King's niece, Alveda, was another featured speaker.  Echoing her uncle's famous words, she outlined her own dreams for the nation's future.  She said she has a dream that "white privilege will become human privilege" and that America will "repent of the sin of racism and return to honor."

People waved American flags and cheered throughout the event.  The rally, expected to draw Republicans and supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement, has stirred controversy, although Beck says the gathering was not political.

Much of the presentation has focused on the need to restore what Beck called the key American principles of faith, hope and charity. Participants presented awards for each of the three principles.

The conservative radio and Fox News television host is known for expressing polarizing viewpoints.  Last year, he called U.S. President Barack Obama a "racist," accusing him of having a "deep-seated hatred for white people."

Although rally organizers advised attendees not to bring signs or political paraphernalia, some participants could be seen waving flags popular at Tea Party rallies.  Signs at some Tea Party events have included pictures of Mr. Obama with a Hitler-style mustache, along with racial slurs and threats to Democratic officials.

A blog by a Tea Party supporter angered Washington officials this week after warning rally participants to avoid certain neighborhoods and subway lines in Washington that the blogger deemed unsafe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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