“No matter what, Mr. President, you continue to hope,” Mr. Cleaver said to enthusiastic applause. “As long as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sits on the throne of grace, hope on. Hope on. Hope on. We are people of hope, Mr. President. Hope on. Hope on. When everything else is gone, hope on.”
Mixing it up outside
On the sidewalks outside the convention center, the scene reflected the state of religion in the Democratic Party: lots of faith, lots of disagreement.
A white-haired man with a Santa Claus beard carried a person-sized wooden cross. Another bearded man — looking like a missing member of rock band ZZ Top — was “playing guitar for Jesus.”
A pair of pro-life activists propped up giant placards decorated with photos of aborted fetuses and lambasted passers-by through a portable loudspeaker system.
“In America, we are surrounded by enemies,” the protester shouted, his words backed by soft church music. “The Democrat Party is wicked.”
Nearby, Boston resident Jack Hoskinson leaned against a metal security fence, arguing with a man holding a handmade sign reading, “Without Jesus, America Would Have Never Been Formed.”
“I’m not saying the framers [of the Constitution] weren’t religious people,” said Mr. Hoskinson, 23, who works for a Democratic superdelegate. “I’m just saying it’s not in the founding documents.”
As the argument continued, Mr. Hoskinson gestured toward passing pedestrians.
“Are all these people going to hell, too?” he asked. “That doesn’t sound like a very nice God. You know in your heart that’s messed up.”
Mr. Hoskinson, who was wearing an Obama-themed T-shirt reading “vote,” said he grew up Catholic.
“Really, all the more interesting arguments are out here on the street,” he said.
At the nearby First Baptist Church, members of the Metrolina Baptist Association were taking a less-confrontational approach to proselytizing, offering smiles, snacks, water and religious pamphlets to passers-by, as well as protesters at the Occupy Charlotte campsite.
Teresa Roberson, a 50-year-old Charlotte resident, said some Democratic delegates had stopped to fill out cards making individual prayer requests — for the country, for Mr. Obama, for personal family and financial matters.