DNC: Interfaith service unmarred by protests
Ryan Summerlin August 25, 2008
The black curtain had already opened and The Spirituals Project of Denver was already singing in chorus.
The first man stood up and loudly shouted, “Obama supports the murder of children by abortion.”
The crowd of several hundred responded by booing him. The man, later identified as Randall Terry, a well-known anti-abortion activist was promptly escorted out of the venue.
Two more protesters followed his lead and were also whisked out of the theater. The attendants began chanting Obama’s name.
From that point, the service continued as planned. Rev. Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC led the program.
“Over past few years many have had much to say about efforts to bring faith to the Democratic Party,” she said. “With all due respect … we don’t need to bring faith to the party. Faith is already here. I know Democrats are, have been, and will continue to be members of faith.”
Daughtry continued to explain that she sees the country being at a crossroads. She highlighted several problems including the housing crisis and global warming and called for change. The service, she said, was meant to bring people together to celebrate values and faith.
“As Democrats, we honor and respect our differences while striving to find our commonalties,” she said.
Gov. Bill Ritter approached the podium for the official greeting, reiterating Daughtry’s sentiment of unity.
“While it may seem fitting to give a welcoming political speech, I’m not going to,” he said. “Something we need to be mindful of is there is absolutely in our party an intersection of faith and politics.”
Other featured speakers included Bishop Charles E. Blake, who serves as the as the Seventh Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, social activist Sister Helen Prejean and Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. Readings were also read from the Torah, the Metta Sutra, the Quran and the Bible.
And though it was a celebration of faith, there were plenty of political undertones.
“We had no guidelines of ‘you can’t say this,'” Prejean said in the middle of her speech. “They let us be free to speak our minds today.”
Prejean spoke against the practice of the death penalty and violence. Prejean began her work in prison ministry in 1981. She is also the author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States.
“All religions teach life is sacred,” she said. ” The more vulnerable life is the more we have to be there for it.”
Prejean was met with a standing ovation.