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First on CNN: Who’s delivering prayers at the DNC
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who closed out the GOP convention, is also giving the final prayer at the Democratic convention.
September 3rd, 2012
11:01 PM ET

First on CNN: Who’s delivering prayers at the DNC

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

President Barack Obama has a penchant for using high-profile prayer givers to send messages to the nation.

At his 2009 White House inauguration, Obama called on Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation, signaling an attempt to tamp down on the culture wars (Warren is a theologically conservative evangelical who was close to George W. Bush).

Closing out the inauguration of the first black president was a prayer from The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights leader who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Obama campaign sent us a list of who will be delivering the opening and closing prayers each day at this week’s Democratic National Convention.

“The important role faith has played in President Obama’s own life and the lives of many Americans will be reflected in Charlotte," said Clo Ewing, a spokesperson with the campaign. "The Convention will include diverse religious leaders who are committed to the common good and understand that America needs a president who leads with values.”

Here’s a cheat sheet of who the prayer givers are – and why they matter:

Tuesday’s invocation (opening prayer): Metropolitan Nicholas, bishop of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit

Why he matters: Nicholas is a leader in a giant global movement that has a tiny U.S. presence, with the Greek Orthodox representing a fraction of 1% of the U.S. population. But Nicholas is a symbol of the country’s rich religious diversity, opening the convention with a nod to minority religions.

Tuesday’s benediction (closing prayer): Jena Lee Nardella, executive director of Blood: Water Mission

Why she matters: Nardella represents the young evangelical demographic that the Obama campaign is targeting in this election, knowing that older evangelicals are largely locked up for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Nardella started Blood: Water Mission, which focuses on combating the HIV/AIDs and water crises in Africa, at age 22 with the Christian music group Jars of Clay.

Wednesday’s invocation: Vashti Murphy McKenzie, presiding bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Why she matters: McKenzie is the first woman elected bishop in the AME Church, the country’s oldest black religious denomination. She offered opening prayer at the 1996 Democratic National Convention and is an Obama campaign co-chair. Earlier this summer, first lady Michelle Obama addressed a big AME conference, saying: “To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better.”

Wednesday’s Benediction: David Wolpe, rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles

Why he matters: Hailed as the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek, Wolpe is a prolific author and media personality who's recognizable to many American Jews, who constitute an important voting bloc in some swing states and whose whose ranks include many big political donors. Though Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008, Romney is claiming that Obama has mistreated Israel and Republicans say they see an opening, especially among Orthodox Jews.

Thursday invocation: The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition

Why he matters: Salguero is cutting an increasingly high profile in America’s Hispanic community, a crucial Democratic bloc whose evangelical ranks are swelling and who tend to be socially conservative but liberal on immigration reform, education and economic matters. Getting those voters is a top priority for Obama in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida.

Thursday benediction: Timothy Dolan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York

Why he matters: As the nation’s highest-visibility Catholic official in a year when the Catholic vote may tip the election, Cardinal Dolan is in high demand by the political parties. Just last week, he was in Tampa, delivering the benediction for the Republican National Convention. Dolan has blasted the Obama administration for compelling insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage to nearly all American employees, but having the cardinal follow Obama on Thursday is a way for the president to show he isn’t at war with the Catholic Church.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Politics

soundoff (427 Responses)
  1. Lucky Dog

    Democrats at DNC must bring a prayer rug with them, I will bring Obama-Biden a little bit of luck aka muslim votes. Hey every vote counts!!!

    September 5, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  2. tuvia

    B"H

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein

    OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOPLE GO
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE

    FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD

    NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our

    forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to

    us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.
    PLEASE PLAY ON YOUR NETWORK NOW
    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE

    Rabbi Chaim Richman answers President Obama's Cairo

    speech

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE

    FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD

    NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our

    forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to

    us, their seed, as an everl

    September 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  3. tuvia

    B"H

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein

    OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOPLE GO
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE

    FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD

    NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our

    forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to

    us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.
    PLEASE PLAY ON YOUR NETWORK NOW
    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE

    PLEASE ASK THE CANDIDATE THE FOLLOWING QUESTION.
    JONATHAN POLLARD HAS SPENT ENOUGH TIME IN PRISON.
    IT IS TIME THAT HE IS PARDONED

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein

    OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOLE GO

    Rabbi Chaim Richman answers President Obama's Cairo

    speech

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE

    FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD

    NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our

    forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to

    us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.

    !!

    September 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  4. tuvia

    B"H

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOPLE GO
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!

    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to us, their seed, as

    an everlasting Inheritance.
    ...

    September 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      May the Lord God of Israel who is the God of all Creation protect His people Israel
      May He send His Angels with flaming swords to fight their battles, protect their land and inhabitants thereof.... may their enemies be scattered and confused, and heir weapons turned on each other instead.
      May He bless all those who bless Israel , and may the hate of those who hate her fester in them into a sore that will be their own demise....

      May His people Israel know that they are not forsaken, and know the presence of God's strong hand always with them. May they be strengthened and encouraged knowing that they are not forsaken any longer...
      May their hearts become humble before Him and so tender, that they will hear His voice softly speaking to them, recognizing that it is He who is calling them, and restoring life again unto them.
      O, may they not shrink back and shut Him out as He shows them the prophecies of old, as His Spirit bears witness of the One whom they refused to look at for so long!
      May the name of Yeshua, the humble Servant of whom Isaiah wrote in chapter 42 and 53 of his book, penetrate deep into their hearts and may the veil that kept them from seeing Him be lifted and the light of God shines in, revealing His truth unto them. Oh, may His people Israel mourn for not seeing Him before, but rejoice for Father's love who restores life into them and calls them again to look at Yeshua, and not run from His tender voice. He will not scorn, He will not rebuke, but He will gather and heal , making all things NEW!

      This is the Heart of God for His people Israel, and He will move heaven and earth, (LITERALY, MOVE) to bring it to pass.....

      Oh, the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out... He has hidden them from those who are wise in their own eyes, but revealed them to the humble, and those of broken and con/trite hearts...
      This is the wisdom of our God!

      September 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  5. yannaro

    The (Greek) Orthodox church is not a "minority" church. The varioius Orthodox Churches in the US represent a minority in the US in terms of numbers. But when the article mentions global then it should reflect that the Orthodox Church worldwide has tens of millions of members. And, it is not some offshoot that came into being last week, last year, or even in the last century. So, in no sense of the word is Orthodoxy a "minority."

    September 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Anon

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOor-R3Rl9g&w=640&h=390]

    September 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  7. jbchilton

    http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/faith_and_politics/jena_nardella_to_offer_prayers.html More about Nardella. Her benediction is here, http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/faith_and_politics/benediction_at_democratic_nati.html (includes video)

    September 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  8. tuvia

    NEWS RELEASE

    'Germany met with Munich terrorists after attack'
    By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JPOST CORRESPONDENT

    08/26/2012 18:05

    Fearing additional attack on German soil, Germany offered Black September political upgrade of PLO, 'Der Spiegel' reports.

    Photo by: REUTERS / Handout

    BERLIN – For years, Germany’s government had contact with the organizers of the Black September terror group \

    B"H

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON
    AND PRESIDENT OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW. WHAT WAS IS AND WILL BE
    IN THE FUTURE. LET MY PEOPLE GO. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    PLEASE ASK THE CANDIDATE THE FOLLOWING QUESTION.

    JONATHAN POLLARD HAS SPENT ENOUGH TIME IN PRISON.

    IT IS TIME THAT HE IS PARDONED.

    WILL THE PRESIDENT PARDON JONTATHAN POLLARD ON

    THE PLATFORM OF HUMANITARIANISM

    WILL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AGREE TO LET
    JONATHAN POLLARD GO BACK TO ISRAEL
    WITH HIS WIFE ESTER AND LIVE THEIR LIVES IN
    ISRAEL ONCE IF POSSIBLE THE PRESIDENT
    AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AGREE TO THIS.
    LET MY PEOPLE GO. PLEASE PARDON JONATHAN POLLARD
    MR. PRESIDENT.

    THANK YOU,

    TUVIA

    September 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  9. seashellseller

    Jena Nardella is an Episcopalian

    September 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  10. VeganForever

    Not only are these religious whack jobs stuck in the middle ages but so is the carnivore mentality. I mean, "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs?" SERIOUSLY?? I told my kids they're NEVER going to see a movie or read a book about hunks of DEAD COW FALLING FROM THE SKY.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Huebert

      I can't tell if you are serious or just trolling.

      P.S. Bacon is life.

      September 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  11. Steve

    This makes me absolutely sick. Why are we having any prayers at the RNC or DNC? Not every American practices the same religion, or any religion for that matter.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  12. Guest

    If the below is true, why did a group of people discussed & decided to take God out of the DNC's platform this year? Why was faith not a highlight in Obama's books? Our President is good at saying one thing and delivering another. God Bless America.
    “The important role faith has played in President Obama’s own life and the lives of many Americans will be reflected in Charlotte," said Clo Ewing, a spokesperson with the campaign. "The Convention will include diverse religious leaders who are committed to the common good and understand that America needs a president who leads with values.”

    September 5, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 5, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • hal 9000

      I'm sorry "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but you assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 5, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  14. ScottCA

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu7AQTs_y5A&w=640&h=390]

    September 5, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  15. Reality

    Saving Christians to include Dolan from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

    The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    p.4

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  16. John

    imam of ground zero my guess!

    September 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  17. William

    I find it interesting that this report has a "why s/he matters" section. It is sad that any person or persons would select a man or woman of God to preside over a convention solely because he or she would bring happiness to a voter based on their "mattering" – but that is what we are seeing. Funny how it is okay to bring God into a convention to entice voters, but a really bad idea for a school child to hear it at their weekly convention that we call school.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      I wouldn't recommend sending your children to public school. Attentive, loving and sacrificing parents are best for that job. Unfortunately most people these days are too selfish to actually raise their own children.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      @PerceivedReality

      Uh oh! What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a bona fide home-schooling whacko. Right here in River City. Roll up, roll up. Get your tickets now!


      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      September 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Hey Imagine,
      No magical mystery tour here sparky! Do you refute my advice? If you do please state your point.

      September 5, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  18. MagicPanties

    Hey, why no reps for Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Zeus, etc. ?

    September 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      MagicPanties said: "Hey, why no reps for Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Zeus, etc. ?"

      Because the characters you mentioned are obvious works of fiction and/or mythologies.

      I wanna shout out to all my Atheist friends!

      HawaiiGuest, Tom Tom TPS, GOP'er where you cracka's at???? Whoot Whoot!

      September 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      @PerceivedReality

      Talking burning bush, vi r gin birth, a boat 440ftx73ftx43ft housing pairs of all animals on earth, walking on water, raising from the dead, stopping the sun from setting for 3 days, creation in 6 days just 6000 years ago, men blowing trumpet to bring down walls of Jericho, ad nauseam, are all obvious works of fiction and/or mythologies.

      So exactly WHAT was your point?


      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      September 4, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      My point is that the Bible is true. See wasn't that simple, just because your small mind cannot concieve of a broader reality beyond our senses does not mean everyone should be so dull. Next point?

      September 5, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  19. MagicPanties

    Would've been so much better to use one of the rebellious nuns instead of the phobic Dolan.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  20. Robert

    Not a Mormon on the list. I would think the DNC would LOVE to push that in Romney's face-–unless they couldn't find a Mormon willing to do it.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.