Hundreds of thousands of men are in Washington DC for what could be the largest religious gathering in American history.

Up to one million American men travelled from every state in the union to congregate in Washington's Mall to celebrate their faith in the most public way possible.

The rally is organised by the Promise Keepers, the fastest growing evangelical group in America. Founded in 1990 the group is a male only ministry and the rally in Washington DC aims to promote family values and religious faith among American men. The men present believe God has called them to attend the rally with one man saying,

Anyone here that's not a Christian, they'll be one before they leave.

Many people find the group deeply suspect and America's leading feminist organisation the National Organisation for Women (NOW) has denounced the group a threat in the struggle for gender equality. Others fear the group promotes a conservative, right-ring political agenda.

Defenders of the group say it is aims to inspire a spiritual not a political awakening among men. However even without a political agenda it has reopened the debate among the role of religion in the life of America.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 4 October 1997. The reporter is Mark Little.