Democrats of Faith Hope to Attract Believers to the Party

July 19, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Associated Press

The request befuddled Leah Daughtry. The experienced political hand in charge of planning next month's Democratic National Convention — a self-described "black chick from Brooklyn" and ordained Pentecostal minister — didn't know what to tell the atheists.

Daughtry, 44, was preparing for an Aug. 24 interfaith service that will open the Democrats' gathering here — a first for the party. Before her was an angry letter from secularists who wanted to know whether atheists would be on the podium.

"Atheists speaking at an interfaith service ... does that work?" Daughtry asked last week. "I don't quite know. But they're part of the party, you treat them with respect. I'll give them an answer."

On a larger scale, it's what Daughtry and a growing number of Democrats of faith are setting out to do: hold together and build their party by claiming ground on religion and values that Republicans have successfully mined for years.