- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
In DNC prayer room, lots of quiet time
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you want to escape religion at the Democratic National Convention, there is only one place to go: the official Charlotte Convention Center prayer room.
Located above a row of vending machines on the building’s second floor, the prayer room is a designated spiritual oasis amid a ceaseless churn of harried delegates, half-heard cellphone conversations and clattering laptop keyboards.
Mostly, the room is empty.
A dormitory-room-sized box made of album-thin white plastic panels and silver aluminum framing, the room contains 16 banquet chairs, which largely have remained unoccupied over the course of the week.
During a two-hour-plus stretch Thursday afternoon, the room’s sole inhabitants were a newspaper advertorial insert, a promotional card for American Muslim Alliance Foundation policy seminars and, briefly, two delegates from North Dakota.
“I’m here to pray,” said one of the delegates, who declined to give his name — and then spent most of his abbreviated time in the room conversing with his colleague.
Still, it’s probably a mistake to read too much into the symbolism of the oft-empty prayer room.
Sure, Democrats squabbled over including the word “God” in their party platform and long have struggled to connect with evangelical voters — a June survey by the Pew Forum found that 35 percent of Americans view Democrats as friendly toward religion, while 54 percent felt the same way about Republicans.
But expressions of belief in and around the Charlotte convention are nearly as commonplace as President Obama buttons.
God is everywhere
In addition to a morning prayer gathering, DNC organizers staged two well-attended meetings of its Faith Council. As attendees shouted “Amen” and “Hallelujah,” council head James Salt closed Wednesday’s gathering by recalling the biblical decision of Solomon regarding the claims of two women to the same baby.
The Rev. Derrick Harkins, senior pastor at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in the District and national director of faith and outreach for the party since October, told delegates at the first prayer gathering: “We begin every single morning of this 2012 convention in prayer because faith in God is not a strange concept to Democrats. It’s woven into the fabric of who we are.”
On Tuesday, Democratic delegates and politicians from 10 states could be found at the nearby St. Peter's Bliss Hall, a 161-year-old church that hosted Methodist, Lutheran and Catholic bishops and two screenings of the immigration-themed documentary film “Gospel Without Borders.”
The next morning, the Coalition of African-American Pastors held a news conference to protest the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement of same-sex marriage. On Wednesday evening, by contrast, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat, delivered a stem-winding, largely ad-libbed address to delegates at Time Warner Cable Arena, drawing on his background as a United Methodist pastor to defend Democratic Party ideals and call for Mr. Obama’s re-election.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- CURL: The modern GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Six Senate seats could hinge on Keystone pipeline
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- CPAC 2014: Straw poll signals Paul-Cruz showdown
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again