Monday, August 25, 2008

Dems' Convention Opens With Interfaith Event and Some Controversy

Both the AP and CQ report on the first official event of the Democratic national Convention-- an interfaith service held yesterday in a theater inside the Convention Center. The event included talks and readings from Christians, Muslims, Jews and a Buddhist. According to the Dallas News, police ejected an anti-abortion protester who began to shout "Obama's a baby killer!" as the opening number by a gospel choir began. The Rocky Mountain News says three anti-abortion protesters were ejected, including Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry who, with another protester, held up a picture of an aborted fetus as they were led out of the gathering. However as part of the official program, Bishop Charles E. Blake of the Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, spoke about his opposition to abortion, and Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking," spoke against the death penalty.

A protester with a bullhorn and a sign that read "Allah is not God" was not admitted to the gathering. Meanwhile, Fox News reports that controversy also arose over the Democrat's invitation to Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to speak as part of the gathering. ISNA has been heavily involved in interfaith relations and has met with key Bush administration officials. Some critics however claim that the organization has ties to radical groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

In one additional development, AP and the Washington Post report that young evangelist Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant Magazine and a registered Republican, backed out of delivering the invocation at Monday night's convention session when he found out it would be on the main stage and broadcast nationally. He changed his mind because he feared his appearance would be interpreted as an endorsement of Obama. He will instead take part in a lower profile religious caucus later in the week.

UPDATE: Here, from the Denver Post, is a video of excerpts from the interfaith serice.