Prayer and Politics at the DNC

How faith leaders are taking part in the Democratic National Convention

A view from the first day of the Democratic National Convention. (CNS photo/Jessica Rinaldi, Reuters)
The Democratic National Convention is going on in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week, a city where Evangelical legend Billy Graham’s career remains a powerful presence.

Pre-Convention activities began Sunday with a group called Charlotte 714 hosting a non-partisan prayer service that called for repentance and renewal in Charlotte and across the United States.

A group of about 200 Muslim activists also gathered for prayer in Charlotte Friday, with organizers choosing Charlotte in an attempt to highlight issues important to the Muslim minority in the United States.

Convention attendees can attend morning prayer each day, a Jewish Community Training workshop, and a panel on religious liberty for a discussion entitled, “Keeping Faith in the Democratic Party.”

Catholics will be represented by two notable individuals. Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of the left-leaning lobbying group NETWORK, who has been critical of the budget proposal crafted by GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan and who gained attention for leading the “Nuns on the Bus” tour spoke Wednesday. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose presence at the Republican National Convention initially ignited some controversy in Catholic circles, will close the convention with prayer Thursday evening.

Also making an appearance during the convention are:

  • Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles, who was named most influential rabbi by Newsweek, offered the benediction Wednesday.
  • Vashti Murphy McKenzie, presiding bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who is the first woman elected bishop in the nation’s oldest black denomination.
  • Metropolitan Nicholas, bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit.
  • The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
  • Jena Lee Nardella, young adult and executive director of Blood: Water Mission, which works to alleviate the water crisis and AIDS epidemic in Africa. (Here’s a link to her benediction and prayer.)