With security being a top concern for the Republican National Convention, which will begin on Aug. 30, members from the Christian Defense Coalition held a candlelight prayer vigil on Aug. 27 to seek God’s protection and guidance.
Around 60 Christians gathered on at the gate of Madison Square Garden, the site for next week’s convention, to pray for specifically for the event.
"We felt it was essential, during the Republican National Convention, to carve out a time where citizens could collectively come together and publicly humble themselves before God and seek His protection, guidance and blessing,” stated Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Washington, DC based Christian Defense Coalition.
Mahoney said the events are non-partisan. “These vigils are not pro-Bush, nor anti-Bush, but rather a time to acknowledge our dependence upon God and remind ourselves as a nation that our strength and prosperity comes from a gracious God,” he said in a statement.
Rev. Rob Schenck, president of Christian public advocacy group Faith and Action, who had participated in a prior demonstration held at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, said that while the two events had similar intentions of praying for the leaders of both parties, the prayer vigil held for the Republican National Convention placed a greater emphasis on “providing protection because the concern for security.”
Following short speeches from Rev. Schenck, Rev. David Hernquist of New York’s Van Ness Assemblies of God, and a Roman Catholic priest, the three speakers anointed the two pillars at the main gate of Madison Square Garden with oil in the sign of the cross to consecrate the site and the upcoming convention to God.
Although the candlelight procession in the area ended without interference, securing a permit for the demonstration required a federal lawsuit filed by the coalition.
“The potential in a situation like this is always to limit speech,” commented Schenck.
Unlike their experience at the Democratic National Convention where demonstrators were caged far from the convention site, members of the organization were pleased when it received a permit for the requested location of the New York City demonstration.
“In Boston, they created that so our speech was meaningless,” said Schenck. “In this instance, it was different because they created the area where we wanted to be.”
“We were very appreciative of the police for their participation and their cooperation,” he said.
The eve of the Republican National Convention, Christian Defense Coalition will also hold a Solemn Assembly, a time of remembrance and prayer vigil at Ground Zero on Sunday, August 29 at 3 p.m. The location of the vigil will be on Church St. across from St. Paul's Chapel.