The Democratic National Convention came to a close yesterday in Boston Mass, with Senator John Kerry’s acceptance of the party’s presidential nominee. And while the DNC made clear its desire to target faith-based-groups in its campaign – evident from the July 28 “People of Faith Luncheon” at the convention center – it steered clear of most of the biggest issues pertinent to the current day believer.
"I think it signifies how serious [Democratic presidential nominee] John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee are about reaching out to people of faith and letting them know that all faiths are included under the big umbrella known as the Democratic National Convention," said Brenda Peterson, the DNC’s newly appointed “senior advisor for religious outreach.”
Peterson, a minister at the liberal Disciples of Christ church, implied that the evangelical “Christian Right” was “stealing” the spotlight on faith-targeted-campaigning.
"We can no longer cede the religious stage and microphone and television cameras to the Christian Right,” said Peterson, whose husband leads the liberal Interfaith Coalition.
Jim Wallis, another speaker at the Luncheon, consented with Peterson saying that the faith of the “progressive (liberal) Christians” has been “stolen from us in the public arena.”
“We are here to steal it back,” said Wallis. “I think the old time of the dominance by the Religious Right over faith and politics is coming to an end, and a new time of progressive -- and, I would add, prophetic -- faith has arrived."
Peterson and Wallis both claimed that this “prophetic” faith revolves around anti-poverty efforts, rather than cultural wars such as the battle to protect marriage and the battle to protect life (against abortion).
"Some want us to believe that the only religious issues in this election year are abortion and gay marriage," Wallis said. But he emphasized the importance in the Christian and Jewish traditions of economic and social justice. Poverty is a religious issue.”
“The basic tenet of all faiths is [to] love your neighbor and care about your neighbor," agreed Peterson. "The Democratic Party has done that very well."
The presidential candidate John Kerry himself vaguely referred to “faith” during his 45 minute highlighted speech.
“I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by from Vietnam to this day from ‘Sunday to Sunday’,” said Kerry, whose pro-abortion stance had pit him at odds against his own Catholic faith.
Neither the issue on abortion nor homosexual marriage was stressed during the weeklong convention. However, the DNC listed the opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment as part of its platform. The DNC also invited the president of the largest gay “rights” group to speak to the delegates on July 28. Additionally, the DNC invited a speaker to support embryonic stem-cell research – a highly controversial practice banned by the Bush administration and scorned by pro-life and Christian groups nationwide.