CHARLOTTE — The reaffirmation of religion into the Democratic Party platform, as well as the presence of religious speakers at this week’s convention, are signs of the party’s principles of inclusion.
At Democratic National Conventions prior to this year’s, the party platform has included language mentioning “God,” but Tuesday’s draft of 2012’s platform excluded this along with any language identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In an unscripted moment Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor and DNC Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa took the podium and asked for delegates’ approval to reinsert these pieces into the platform after conservative politicians and pundits criticized the platform draft.
Despite nearly equal support and opposition in a series of three voice votes conducted by Villaraigosa, the language was included in the final draft of the 2012 platform, which should ensure support from Catholics who believe in religious principles of goodwill and inclusion, said Chris Pumpelly, communications and development director of Catholics United, a non-profit Catholic advocacy group.
“This says that the Republican party can no longer say they have a monopoly on the common good,” Pumpelly said.
He also lauded the party for featuring Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Roman Catholic Social Justice Organization in its lineup Wednesday.
The budgetary plan of Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan is not representative of the beliefs and principles of Catholicism, Campbell said. She particularly contrasted Ryan’s claim that the GOP budget reflects the principles of their shared Catholic faith and the reality of the budget, which she said would not alleviate the struggles of the lower and middle class.
“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are correct when they say that each individual should be responsible,” she said. “But their budget goes astray in not acknowledging that we are responsible not only for ourselves and our immediate families. Rather, our faith strongly affirms that we are all responsible for one another.... The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test, because it would harm families living in poverty.”
Campbell endorsed Obamacare for its inclusivity of the most struggling Americans—a feat she called “our responsibility.” She even briefly mentioned abortion—one of the biggest conflicts between the Catholic faith and the Democratic platform—noting that despite the Democrats’ support of a woman’s right to choose abortion, implementing The Affordable Care Act is “part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do.”
There are several prominent pro-life Democrats, Pumpelly added. He said Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA)—a fellow Catholic—is an example of a nationally relevant politician who has not defaulted on his pro-life beliefs.
“Democrats take all types of people,” he said. “We’re working to reduce the need for abortion in America and stand for life in all situations.”
Christianity was evoked again by Senate-hopeful Elizabeth Warren in her speech Wednesday night. In order to practice true Christian values, Americans must act in a familial and social responsible manner, she said.
“I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school,” Warren noted. “One of my favorite passages of scripture is ‘inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ Matthew 25:40. The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and called to act. Not to sit, not to wait, but to act—all of us together.”
Nicole Kyle contributed reporting.