Perhaps the most memorable moment of the Democratic National Convention for some Christians and conservatives will be the night "God was booed" and Jerusalem became a party platform afterthought, say some political observers, including Christian pastors and leaders.
- (Photo: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)
Still, a quick poll by The Christian Post of some church leaders on Thursday showed that a few were reluctant to make a public comment on the loudly divisive action that took place on Wednesday.
The Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California who is a writer and historian, was one of the first to publicly respond to the controversy with his blog post, "God Booed By Dems at Convention! Incredible!"
"In what must be a first in American History, the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C. took an ugly turn tonight when Dems booed God," Miles wrote.
The DNC ran into a stumbling block when a motion by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to insert the words "God" and "Jerusalem" back into the Democratic Party's platform after the platform committee passed the original version omitting the words required a voice vote in the party's convention hall.
Three roll call votes were taken as the "aye" and "no" voice votes were too close to call. The amendments needed a two-thirds majority approval to pass. After it was determined that the motions passed, many booed.
The vote came amid some criticism over the DNC platform, which was approved by delegates on Tuesday, not including a reference to God.
Miles described it this way: "Loud boos were heard when the name 'God' was spoken and the cameras picked up angry objectors reacting. The reference to God and the name, 'God,' was booed by more than half the Democrats in the filled to capacity arena."
When asked about the uproar, Summit Ministries President and leadership expert Jeff Myers said his first reaction was "shock."
"I have many Democrat friends who believe in God and I guess it was a big wakeup call that the leadership of the party, those selected to be its representatives at the national level, are so anti-God," Myers told CP. "It answers a lot of questions about why faith-based organizations are receiving such hostility from the administration. People are policy."
He added, "If I were a Democrat and a Christian, I think I would feel like Ronald Reagan did when he became a Republican exactly 50 years ago, in 1962: 'I didn't leave the Democratic party. The Democratic Party left me.'"
LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer said that while watching the explosive DNC moment on TV live he thought it was "a powerful reinforcement of the negative feelings held by many people of faith."
"Democrats are often seen as anti-faith – the 'God gap' has been widely polled and reported," Stetzer told CP. "That DNC floor moment did not help, particularly if the campaign desires to reach out to the evangelical community. They were very aggressive in reaching out to evangelicals in 2008 but much less so now – and this will make it harder."
Stetzer felt it was important to note that the vote to reinstate the position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel should not be confused with adding the phrase "God-given" back into the text of the Democrats' party platform.
"The vote was for both amendments at the same time – addressing God and Jerusalem – so it wouldn't be fair to say that it was one or the other. Jerusalem is not God and God is not Jerusalem. Christians see Jerusalem as important, but they don't confuse the city with the deity," he said.
Still, as the election season heightens, the sentiment from many pastors appears to be one of calling on Christians to not place a lot of worldly hope in either candidate or party.
"Jesus rides neither a donkey nor an elephant. Christians would do well to remember that their ultimate loyalty is not to a party but to a Kingdom that is not of this world," Stetzer said.
Pastor Brad Johnson, who leads Life Change Community church in Agoura Hills, Calif., said priorities can't really be drawn from the DNC platform.
"I would say that far more than having God written in one's platform is to actually have God inform the decisions of our leaders," he told CP. "More than a party declaring the capital of Israel, is the deeper issue of understanding what it truly means to be the people of God and live by the principles of His kingdom."
He added, "The answers to our problems won't come from Capitol Hill. The answers for all of life are found first on a hill called Calvary."
Pastor Ron Edmondson of Immanuel Baptist Church in Kentucky told CP that he believes this presidential election is the most important one of his lifetime.
"Honestly, I believe Christians should weigh candidates individually more than they view a convention or a conference," Edmondson said. "My question is which candidate will best support my right to freedom of religion and democracy. Which will most serve to advance our country forward?
"Our mounting debt is an issue for all of us, Christians and non-Christians. Who is going to best grow our economy and protect my children and grandchildren's future?"