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August 24, 2008

Faith in Public Life's reaction to the interfaith gathering

Rev. Ron Stief, director of organizing strategy for Faith in Public Life, gave me his initial response to the interfaith gathering.

"In Boston back in 2004, I had 15 faith leaders come to a lunch, and that was it. A lot of faith leaders were saying, 'What was that? What did you just invite me to?' because it was so new. People weren't used to being invited to bring our issues into the conversation. Here, it's a major interfaith event, it launched the entire convention. What I like about the faith community is and probably why we haven't been invited before you can't control us, we work based on our own moral convictions.

"The fact that the party could put something together and let the faith community speak from their heart what needs to be done, if that doesn't indicate openness by this party to a range of issues, I don't know what does. The forum itself was just amazing, about letting the faith leaders come and speak. This will probably be one of the most open discussions that happens in this convention. This was to bring what is the mood in the country. There's a tremendous mood for change in the faith community. That's why these folks are here.

"This was a chance really for the black evangelical and Pentecostal community to say, 'Hey we're part of the evangelical community, too.' I think it's good for people to understand the diversity of the evangelical community.

"I don't know if I would've changed anything [about today]. I actually think they got it right, which is not easy to do. I've done enough interfaith events. It was very broadly represented of what this country looks like demographically with faith. We put out capital punishment, torture, abortion reduction, poverty, the environment. Maybe the Democratic Party can just vote on our agenda and go home, save themselves three days of the convention. I was pretty impressed with the platform that was laid out here."

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