For Saturday’s paper, I submitted this fairly cut-and-dry report of which religious leaders will have speaking roles at the National Prayer Service on Wednesday morning, and since then, a few interesting tidbits have come in.
The Mormons tell me they’ve not been left out; in fact, Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, and Dieter Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the First Presidency (both top leadership spots), will be at the National Prayer Service.
I said yes, many religious leaders will be at the Washington National Cathedral, but only a few actually get to say something. And I still think it weird that the Episcopalians get at least four people onstage and the Jews get three, but the Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Buddhists, Assemblies of God (or other pentecostal churches), Salvation Army folks and who knows who else don’t get so much as a tiny spot on the official program.
Lots of react has come into our site — most of it negative — about Ingrid Mattson, the president of the Islamic Society of North America being given a role. I thought they could have made far worse choices, and Ingrid did preview herself, in a fashion, by appearing at an interfaith panel at the Democratic National Convention.
A couple of folks are not big surprises. Jim Wallis has been waiting a long time for a top role like this. He’s carried water for the religious left even before there was a religious left. The first time I interviewed him was in 1976 for the former Washington Star, so we go back, one might say.
Take a look at that list again and tell me if there aren’t any Southern Baptists in there. Andy Stanley is the son of a famous SBC pastor, but I think America’s largest Protestant denomination got left out as well. At least he was a creative choice — the most interesting pick on the program as nondenominational pastors like him are who really lead America’s churches.
A press release announcing the folks speaking at the National Prayer Service said effort had been made to find inclusive types who show forth “tolerance, unity and understanding.” Which is why I don’t see any what I’d call doctrinaire folks on the guest list. Too narrow in their views for the Obamas and the Bidens?
There’s nothing wrong with Archbishop Demetrios, who is always the guy invited to represent the Orthodox, but I rather wish they had picked Metropolitan Philip from the Antiochan Orthodox Archdiocese or the newly installed Metropolitan Jonah for the Orthodox Church in America, who is one interesting interview. Both are, actually, and it would have given some of the other Orthodox jurisdictions here some time in the sun.
At least they picked someone to represent the Hindus, a first I believe. Just so someone knows: The Assemblies of God and the Mormons/Latter-day Saints always rank along with the Catholics as the fastest growing religions in America. Maybe it’s time to include some of those folks on the speaker’s rostrum.
- Julia Duin, religion editor