A roster of conservative stalwarts, from bright lights like Sarah Palin and Herman Cain to rising stars like Virginia's Republican lieutenant governor nominee, Bishop E.W. Jackson, lit up the crowd on the final day of the 2013 Faith and Freedom Conference, urging a gathering of religious conservatives to reclaim their country from a government that has shown itself to be corrupt and abusive.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, delivered the closing speech, earning a raucous ovation with her characterization of President Obama's "totalitarian surveillance state" as "Orwellian," and advising Republicans to hold fast to Christian faith and conservative principles as they chart a path out of the electoral wilderness.
In light of the recently revealed National Security Agency surveillance programs, Palin observed, "It just seems so Orwellian around here." She slammed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's statement that he gave the "least untruthful" answer possible to a congressman's question about the government's surveillance programs.
"Where I come from, that's called a lie," Palin said.}
And as a series of controversies continue to roil Washington, from the IRS targeting of conservative groups to the disclosure of broad surveillance programs, Palin argued that "something more is going on than your garden variety government corruption."
"The problem isn't bureaucrats in Cincinnati going rogue," she explained. "It's not twenty-something security contractors leaking government documents." The problem, writ large, is a "government grown so big that it intrudes into every aspect of our lives," she said, characterizing Washington as "one hot mess."
And in many cases, she argued, the problems caused by corruption are only further compounded by incompetence.
The "government spied on all of your phone calls," she said, "but it couldn't find two pot-smoking terrorist deadbeats" who carried out the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Palin argued that the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," is making health insurance "enormously more expensive," and she repeated her charge that the legislation includes "death panels" that will deny life-saving care to seniors and disabled Americans.
She sounded a skeptical note on the prospect of greater U.S. engagement in the Syrian civil war, arguing that Muslim extremists were killing each other, and "until we have [a commander in chief] who knows what they're doing, I say let Allah sort it out."
She also pushed back on a suggestion from former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., that Republicans should support immigration reform because immigrants are "more fertile" and could provide America with a needed youthful infusion. Palin called the immigration reform bill moving through Congress an "amnesty bill" and urged Republicans to oppose it.
"I say this as someone who's kind of fertile herself," the mother of five quipped.
2012 Republican presidential contender Herman Cain, who spoke before Palin, also referenced George Orwell's novel "1984" in his indictment of big government, saying, "Big brother is already here. Big Brother wants to control everything."
And "if you don't agree," Cain warned, "they will try to find ways to silence you," citing "IRS abuse" and "NSA corruption."
Bishop E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race, who spoke earlier in the morning, delivered an impassioned defense of religious devotion.
Jackson has come under fire for his comparison of Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan and his characterization of gay people as "perverted" and "very sick." Although he did not defend the comments, he made clear that he isn't backing down from his provocative brand of political religiosity one bit.
"I do not apologize for being a believer in Jesus Christ," he said, "because that faith and that Bible formed the foundations of this nation, and we're not going to let those foundations be destroyed."
Jackson warned that we are "witnessing an effort to redefine freedom" and urged religious conservatives to fight back.
"We're being told freedom is a license" to do as we please, he explained, but "there is no freedom without God."
"Freedom is not dependence," he continued. "Freedom is the ability to have a job."
He also tiptoed into a debate about creation versus evolution, quoting the Declaration of Independence and telling the audience that "All men are created equal."
"Created, not evolved," he emphasized.
Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, was among the first to address the crowd on Saturday, and he advised the conservative faithful in the audience to "Smile when you disagree with a liberal."
"As we fight for our country, we need to do it with joy," he said. "Our conservative convictions will win this country back. Our tone shows that we're comfortable with our own ideas."