Crowd of 500 turns out to rally against atheists' sign

OLYMPIA — More than 500 people from throughout Western Washington turned out Sunday at the Capitol steps to protest a sign a group of atheists erected as part of the holiday display inside the building.

The protest — organized late last week by a Federal Way man who said he was offended by the sign installed by Wisconsin's Freedom From Religion Foundation — drew Christian pastors, at least one state legislator and a handful of counter-protesters.

The rally was accompanied by a wide array of religious expression, including some religious banners, one or two anti-religious banners from members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, speakers on bullhorns calling for sinners to repent, and one sign proclaiming that God loves everyone, including atheists.

Using a loudspeaker, pastors prayed, sang Christmas carols and criticized Gov. Chris Gregoire for allowing the atheist sign in the building.

"The No. 1 thing is, we want the state of Washington and the governor to represent everyone in the state," said the Rev. Kenneth Hutcherson, the pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. "But just because you must represent everyone in the state doesn't mean that you put up with intolerance from the people that you represent."

State Rep. Jim Dunn, a Vancouver Republican, called for the crowd to continue their energy and prayers.

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