A California-based Christian activist group sponsored a meeting of Florida pastors in Orlando this week featuring private speeches from Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich and production of a political-activism video.
Participants in the meeting Thursday and Friday disclosed little about the event or the group behind it, United in Purpose. The group's spokesman was not available.
The appearances by candidates at the event, dubbed The Florida Renewal Project, also were shrouded in secrecy.
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Stemberger said Thursday that more than 800 Florida pastors were expected. He said their expenses were being paid by private donors he could not identify.
"There are persons that made it possible for them to come and have accommodations here and have their meals taken care of. There's no charge to the pastors," Stemberger said.
In addition to hearing Perry and Gingrich, the pastors came to participate in "Champion the Vote," a nationwide campaign seeking to register an additional 5 million Christian-conservative voters this fall.
For that campaign, Stemberger, the pastors and other participants, including Dallas, were producing a DVD video on the potential voting power of Christian conservatives. The video is to be distributed for a nationwide coordination of church and house parties on Nov. 12 called "One Nation Under God."