N.Y. City Officials Grant Permit for Prayer Vigil at Republican National Convention

( [email protected] ) Jul 03, 2004 01:22 PM EDT

The City of New York granted 10 permits Wednesday for demonstrations coinciding with the Republican National Convention including Faith and Action and the Christian Defense Coalition's (CDC) joint prayer vigil at Madison Square Garden.

Faith and Action and CDC also reached a settlement with Boston officials in early June to hold a prayer vigil at the Democratic National Convention, which runs from July 26-29.

The New York prayer vigil will be the very last public event outside the Madison Square Garden before city officials secure the area for the Convention. It will either take place on August 27 or 28, depending on what day police will initialize the security shutdown.

President of Faith and Action Rev. Rob Schenck and Director of CDC Rev. Patrick Mahoney had planned the exercise as spiritual support for the incumbent president, reported Faith and Action, a Christian public policy organization.

"Rev. Mahoney and I wanted to call Christians together to support our President in prayer and to pray for the future of our country," said Schenck. "This is a critical election year and the President told me personally that the greatest gift anyone can give him is their prayers."

New York officials at first denied permits for the vigil, citing security reasons.

However, Mahoney said placing demonstration restrictions during the Republican National Convention would violate the right to free speech.

"We had to convince Boston and New York officials that this did not pose any threat," explained Schenck. "New York was easy. Boston was much more difficult. God bless Rev. Mahoney for his tenacity."

The Central Labor Council, Planned Parenthood, the Middle East Peace Coalition and People for the American Way are sponsors of other demonstrations during the Convention.

United for Peace and Justice, which is organizing for a huge anti-war rally and a march involving 250,000 people is still in the process of negotiating for permission from city officials. The anti-war group is to meet again with city officials Friday to discuss its application to protest during the Convention, according to the group's spokesman Bill Dobbs.

On August 28, Faith and Action and CDC will also hold a prayer service at the Ground Zero.