Cape Gazette
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Line in the sand is drawn in Rehoboth Beach

Freedom Rally goes off without a hitch
By Ryan Mavity | Jul 05, 2013
Photo by: Ron MacArthur

On a blistering July 4 morning, hundreds of people jammed Rehoboth Beach for a Freedom Rally celebration featuring music, veterans and prayer.

A portion of the beach at Rehoboth Avenue had been sectioned off, but the crowd quickly overwhelmed the area as people lined the dune-crossing and the Boardwalk in front of a small stage.

“We were just hoping for a peaceful service,” said event organizer Christian Hudson. But the event far exceeded his expectations.

Hudson organized the rally after the Rev. Robert Dekker, senior pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church, was denied a permit to hold eight Sunday services at the Bandstand.

“For a normal service, we’d have 25 or 30 people," Hudson said. "It’s just great to see people come out and support your civil rights. What is more personal than your right to worship and believe according to your own rights of conscience?”

The event was peaceful; Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks, who was on the scene, said he received no complaints in person and the dispatch center received no complaints. Event organizers estimated 1,500 people attended the rally.

"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."

Dekker offered sermon called “Drawing a Line in the Sand,” which touched on freedom through a Bible story.

“One thing that is happening is we are exercising the liberties that happened 237 years ago,” Dekker said.

Dekker told the story of a woman caught in adultery and condemned to be stoned. When asked what he would do, Jesus drew a line in the sand and asked for those who have not sinned to cast the first stone. The woman celebrated her freedom and was told by Jesus to sin no more.

Dekker used this story to say that freedom must not be taken lightly, and freedom means there is no more condemnation.

World War II veteran Art Lane spoke of his experiences in France during the war. Lane was introduced by Frenchman and New Covenant member Alan Bertaux, who choked up remembering his home country during the occupation of the Nazis and the liberation of France by the Allies.

Rehoboth officials denied a permit request to hold services on the Bandstand, saying the decision was based on the separation of church and state. Still, in addition to Dekker's sermon and prayers by the Rev. John Betts of Abundant Life Church in Georgetown, one of the loudest cheers of the day came when an airplane flying a banner saying “Jesus Saves” flew by.

Beachgoers in the crowd largely went about their business. Newark 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.”

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.

“If you’re Muslim, Jewish or atheist you’re forced to hear this, and that’s not American,” Suzay Cross said. “As long as they focus on patriotism and not religion, it’s not too bad.”

Hudson said he had been complimented on the event by people of other religions for the rally’s message and tone.

“We thought it was a concert,” said beachgoer Heather Delaney. A Washington D.C.-area resident on the beach with her husband, Ryan, and 15-month-old son, Nathan, Delaney said, “I’m not religious, but I think it’s cool. I think it’s more patriotic than religious.”

The rally drew people from across the country; John Putnam and John Greenlaw flew into town from Joplin, Mo.

“We love freedom,” Putnam said. “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.”

Greenlaw’s home was one of 8,000 destroyed by the Joplin tornado of 2011 and is a Vietnam veteran. He said the highlight for him was Bertaux’s speech.

“This is overwhelming,” Dekker said. “Overwhelming my expectations. There’s definitely an interest in these kinds of things in society. They’re happy we’re doing something good.”


 

Freedom Rally in Rehoboth Beach
(Video by: Ron MacArthur)
Judy Mangini sings "The Star Spangled Banner" at the start of the Freedom Rally. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Willie Blalock of Lewes is caught up in the spirit of the event. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Nancy Joseph of Lewes performs "Amazing Grace." (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Local World War II veteran Art Lane talks about the price of freedom. He landed in France not long after the D-Day invasion. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Although a request to hold a series of church services in Rehoboth's Bandstand was denied by city officials, the Rev. Robert Dekker says he is not defiant but determined.  The request for a permit for the rally was approved, and Dekker worked with the help of Christian Hudson to make the Freedom Rally a reality. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Mike McCarthy of Millville raises his Bible during a prayer. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
The crowd rises in support of the rally on the sands during the busiest day of the year in Rehoboth Beach. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Kit Kennedy is dressed in the colors of the day. He spoke about the first Independence Day. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
A large crowd braves the hot summer sun to attend the Freedom Rally. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
The Rev. Robert Dekker had his day in the sun as the keynote speaker at the Line in the Sand Freedom Rally. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Christian Hudson said he would "take the spears" as organizer of the event. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
In the middle of the rally, a plane pulls this banner across the sky along Rehoboth Beach. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Comments (3)
Posted by: Sandy/Art WINTERBOTTOM | Jul 05, 2013 08:11

With the socialist society that we have been pushed to do in this current term, it is important to hold on to "freedoms."  As my son enters school this Sept., I continue to have a heavy heart in knowing he may not be taught to embrace the pledge of allegiance according to our socialist society!

Line in the Sand:  I personally think the infusion of patriotism through the service was the correct way to proceed in the agenda... we still have a "separation of church and state."  God Bless America!



Posted by: Thomas Adams | Jul 06, 2013 09:23

Much has been said about this fascinating story.  I’m writing about the number of people in attendance at the rally and how various media reported that figure.  This number is important because it can be viewed as a measure of the success of the event.

 

Ron MacArthur of the Gazette gave a figure of “nearly 1,500” who “jammed the beach” and “overwhelmed” the area that had been sectioned off for the event.   At the other end were WGMD, which reported “a few hundred” in attendance, and WBOC/Fox 21, which came in at “more than 100.”

 

I was present at the rally in its entirety and I took my own count.  Not once, but five times—each at different points of time and from different locations.  I came up with a range of 375-500.

 

Puzzled by Ron’s arithmetic, I wrote to him on July 4 wondering how he arrived at his outlier estimate.  I got no response.   My working hypothesis is that he might have stayed too long in the “blistering” heat that day causing him to experience double vision.  If so, I hope he’s fully recovered.

 

www.wgmd.com/common/more.php?m=49&post_id=46581

www.wboc.com/story/22762004/church-rallies-at-rehoboth-beach



Posted by: Thomas Adams | Jul 08, 2013 13:47

Ron MacArthur responded to me on July 7, explaining that he was not the reporter who covered this story—even though his name had been listed on the by-line!  On July 8, the Gazette changed the by-line from Ron to Ryan Mavity.  More importantly to my mind, the Gazette made substantive changes to the story as it was published on July 4.  The estimate of those in attendance was revised to “hundreds” from “nearly 1,500.”  The story also reports that the figure of 1,500 came from the event’s organizers.

 

I trust that the Gazette will be more careful in attributing the source of claims in the future.   It simply is not wise for reporters to accept an event organizer’s claims as fact and to re-present these claims to their readership as such.   Doing so allows for too much potential for mischief.

 

For more on this story that has not been published elsewhere—including useful background information and original source material such a copy of Pastor Dekker’s initial request, go to Alan Henney’s account at:

 

http://henney.com/weekend07

 



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