"I'm one of the Nuns on the Bus. So we have Nuns on the Bus and a nun on the podium." That is how Sister Simone Campbell introduced herself at the Democratic National Convention in her address last night.
Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, a National Catholic social justice lobby. Sister Campbell rose to fame after she went on a two-week, 2700-mile journey across nine states of America this summer along with fellow Catholic nuns protesting the Ryan budget. In addition to meeting with social service agencies and members of Congress on their bus tour, NETWORK met with economically-deprived people that Catholic sisters work with. Theirs are the stories that Sister Simone Campbell brought to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. Focusing on issues of social justice and access to healthcare, she emphasized shared responsibility and spoke out strongly against the Ryan budget. "Paul Ryan claims his budget reflects the principles of our shared Catholic faith. But 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," said Sister Campbell. "We care for the 100 percent. ... All of us drive for faith, family and fairness," she concluded to roaring applause.
In a separate address to the Faith Council on Wednesday morning, Sr. Campbell introduced a mantra from the Nuns' bus tour: reasonable revenue for responsible program. As religious people we've got to talk about taxes, she told a gathering of religious leaders, emphasizing that "taxes is a faith position. We've got to pay for caring for our neighbors."
From David Gibson at the Religion News Service:
(RNS) Sister Simone Campbell, who led the "Nuns on the Bus" tour for social justice this summer, called the GOP budget plan "immoral" in a spirited speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday (Sept. 5).
"Paul Ryan claims this budget reflects the principles of our shared faith," Campbell said, as she took direct aim at Mitt Romney's running mate, who has often cited his Catholic faith as the underpinning of his fiscal policies. "But 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," she said.
The Romney campaign did not respond to requests for a response on Thursday.
Ryan has argued that his budget plan is informed by Catholic social teaching, and that reducing the federal deficit through budget cuts would help the poor and all Americans by allowing the economy to grow.
The bishops, with some notable exceptions, have countered that Ryan's budget in fact violates Catholic social teaching by emphasizing cuts in programs for the needy while reducing taxes for the wealthy. Ryan's plan has also been criticized as likely to expand rather than reduce the national debt.
By framing her critique in the context of her Christian faith, Campbell was using the kind of religious language that has been a hallmark of the GOP's campaign to rally believers behind Romney and Ryan.
But she also sought to identify the sisters and the Democratic agenda with Catholic tradition at a time when Catholic voters -- who comprise close to one-quarter of the electorate -- are considered key to the November election.
Just as important, Campbell neatly folded her remarks in with statements from the Catholic hierarchy, which has had more than its share of disagreements with President Obama and the Democratic Party over issues like gay marriage and abortion.
"We agree with our bishops, and that's why we went on the road: to stand with struggling families and to lift up our Catholic sisters who serve them," said Campbell, who heads a Washington-based Catholic social justice lobby called Network. "Their work to alleviate suffering would be seriously harmed by the Romney-Ryan budget."
In her seven-minute speech Campbell did not address hot-button issues like abortion directly, but she earned the loudest ovation when she defended Obama's health care reform law as a cause she considers "part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do."
Like many other speakers at the convention in Charlotte, N.C., Campbell framed the election as a choice between a philosophy of individualism championed by Republicans and a more communitarian approach to society building emphasized by Democrats.
She also underscored the plight of poor and working class Americans in the recession, and pointed to Democratic policies as both the most effective answer, and the most moral one.
"During our journey, I rediscovered a few truths," Campbell said. "First, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are correct when they say that each individual should be responsible. 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."
"I am my sister's keeper. I am my brother's keeper," she said to applause.
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza listed Campbell as the second biggest "winner" of Wednesday night's events, after former President Bill Clinton's tour de force address, noting that she "got a raucously positive reception from the crowd and turned into one of the more unlikely stars of the night."
Campbell has become well-known both for her advocacy of liberal issues but also as one of the targets of a Vatican crackdown on American nuns who Rome believes are too eager to disagree with church teachings on sexuality and gender while overemphasizing church teachings on social justice.
In June, Campbell did a star turn on "The Colbert Report" to rebut those charges, and the Democrats clearly wanted to take advantage of her appeal.
But the nun also told convention organizers that she would only speak if she could cite her opposition to abortion as well as her other views, according to CNN. She also rejected efforts to include language that sounded too "political" and told party operatives that she would rather give her prime time speaking slot to someone else. Her concerns were heeded.
Related on HuffPost:
Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will offer the benediction before the convention closes. Joseph Zwilling, the cardinal's spokesman, said Dolan's appearance is not an endorsement and he is going only to pray. The cardinal also prayed before the closing of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. He included a prayer for religious freedom in his Tampa remarks. The Archdiocese of New York is one of dozens of Catholic organizations suing President Barack Obama because of a portion of his health care overhaul that requires employers, including Catholic schools and hospitals but not houses of worship, to provide free contraception as part of employee health plans. Pictured, Dolan gestures during a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis.
Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, an organization of nuns that describes itself as a "Catholic social justice lobby." As Catholic bishops fought President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul because it required non-houses of worship, such as Catholic hospitals, to provide free contraception to employees as part of insurance coverage, Campbell's group said it supported the administration's decision. Campbell is also known for leading the Nuns on the Bus tour, a nine-state trip focusing on Catholic teachings about caring for the poor. The tour targeted Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial budget plan, which Campbell <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/07/02/paul-ryan-vs-catholic-nuns-on-a-bus/" target="_hplink">called</a> "not Christian" and "immoral." While Campbell has disagreed with American Catholic bishops on several issues (she <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/post/nuns-on-the-bus-take-on-paul-ryan/2012/06/11/gJQAS3RdUV_blog.html" target="_hplink">told</a> <em>The Washington Post</em> in June that there's "a small cadre of bishops who are determined or feel called to politicizing our faith in a way that's extremely partisan and narrow"), she has also said she is "pro-life, all of life." Campbell won't offer an invocation or benediction at the convention, but she is scheduled to speak at part of its official schedule on Wednesday.
Rev. Gabriel Salguero
The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, will offer the invocation at the DNC on Thursday. Salguero and his wife, Jeanette, are senior pastors of Lamb's Church in New York City. They represent two key voting groups that President Barack Obama and Democrats hope to win in November: Hispanics and evangelicals. The Republican National Convention also hosted a prominent Hispanic evangelical, the Rev. Sammy Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Pictured, Salguero, left, and his wife, Jeanette, speak at the Lamb's Manhattan Church of the Nazarene in New York.
Bishop Vashti McKenzie
Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the first woman presiding bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is no stranger to the DNC and the Democratic Party. She offered an invocation at the 1996 DNC in Chicago, while earlier this summer, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the denomination's general conference. The AME church is the nation's oldest black denomination and has a membership of more than 2 million. It was founded in 1816 in Philadelphia after many Methodist congregations in the mid-Atlantic region broke away from white Methodist congregations. Pictured, President Barack Obama and McKenzie on stage during an Easter Prayer Breakfast on April 19, 2011, at the White House.
Metropolitan Nicholas, the bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit, opened the DNC with an invocation on Tuesday. The Democratic National Committee had originally asked Archbishop Demetrios of America, the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, to do the invocation. Archbishop Demetrios initially offered to do the benediction at the Republication National Convention, but sent Metropolitan Methodios of Boston in his place. He was also was unable to attend the DNC and asked Metropolitan Nicholas to attend in his place. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headquartered in New York, oversees 800 priests in 500 parishes throughout the U.S. and about 440,000 members.
According to <a href="http://www.pewforum.org/Christian/Mormon/mormons-in-america-politics-society-and-morality.aspx" target="_hplink">a recent Pew survey,</a> most Mormons tend to be conservative and are often Republicans. But in a year when the political lens has become focused on their faith largely in because of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Mormon Democrats are gathering in Charlotte to make their voices heard. LDS (Latter-day Saints) Dems, formed last October in Utah, and has grown to more than 2,000 members, kicked of a gathering of Mormon Democrats from across the nation at a hotel near the Charlotte convention site on Tuesday. Their keynote speaker was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is Mormon. Pictured, Reid (D-Nev), speaks to reporters.
The Rev. Derrick Harkins
Although he is not playing an official role the DNC's primetime schedule, the Rev. Derrick Harkins is playing a major role in the Democratic Party's faith efforts. Harkins, senior pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., was tapped to be the director of faith outreach for the Democratic National Committee in October and has been making the rounds in Charlotte. That includes leading a morning prayer gathering at the convention on Tuesday, where he called Democrats a party of values and faith. Harkins is on the board of the boards of the National Association of Evangelicals, Faith in Public Life and World Relief. In addition, he is part of the Circle of Protection, an ecumenical alliance of pastors and religious groups who have come out against federal budget cuts they say will hurt poor and vulnerable people.
Rabbi David Wolpe
Rabbi David Wolpe, the spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles who has been dubbed the most influential rabbi in America by <em>Newsweek</em>, will offer a benediction at the DNC on Wednesday. Volpe, who comes from Judaism's conservative tradition, runs the largest conservative temple west of Mississippi, and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York 1987. He is also the author of seven books on Judaism.
While no Muslim is scheduled to offer an invocation or benediction at the DNC, that doesn't mean Muslims won't be present. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, this year's DNC will have the most Muslim delegates in the convention's history. CAIR estimated the number of delegates to be more than 100, an increase from 43 Muslim and Arab-American delegates in 2008 and 25 in 2004. "The more than doubling of Muslim delegates" is "a sign of the American Muslim community's growing civic engagement and acceptance in the Democratic Party," said CAIR government affairs coordinator Robert McCaw in a press release. According to McCaw, there were "relatively few" Muslims at the Republican National Convention. In addition to Muslim delegates, the Bureau of Indigenous Muslims Affairs, a national Islamic organization that works on civic and religious issues, hosted its annual conference in Charlotte over Labor Day weekend to coincide with DNC events. The conference is not officially a part of the DNC, but thousands of Muslims attended. And on Thursday, the American Muslim Democratic Caucus plans to hold a press conference about Muslims at the DNC. It will be co-hosted by Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) and Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.). Both are Muslims. Pictured: Muslim youths pray during the New Horizons gathering on June 5, 2011, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Jena Lee Nardella
Jena Lee Nardella, executive director of Blood: Water Mission, offered an invocation to open the DNC on Tuesday. Blood Water: Mission is a non-profit based in Nashville, Tenn., that works on battling the HIV/AIDS and water crises in sub-Saharan Africa. Nardella co-founded the organization with Jars of Clay, a popular Christian rock band, in 2004 when she was 22. While older evangelicals may sway Republican, younger ones such as those Nardella appeals to are up for grabs. Democrats' pick of Nardella signals their recognition of a need to appeal to the important democratic, which is part of what helped President Barack Obama win the election in 2008.