By BosNewsLife’s Chief Middle East Correspondent George Whitten in Israel and BosNewsLife’s Chief International Correspondent Stefan J. Bos at BosNewsLife News Center
CHARLOTTE/JERUSALEM (BosNewsLife)– United States President Barack Obama prepared to accept the nomination for a second term at the Democratic National Convention, after a turbulent attempt by delegates to remove references to “God” and “Jerusalem” from the mission statement of his party.
Before Obama was to hold a key-note speech to his Democratic Party’s faithful, watched by millions, the hall burst into chaos when Democrats voted to amend what is officially known as the party’s “platform”.
On Tuesday, September 3, they initially adopted a new platform without mentioning God or Jerusalem, while President Obama’s name was used over 100 times, according to Christian observers familiar with the text.
After arch rivals Republicans spent the morning criticizing Democrats for removing these words from their platform, former Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio on Wednesday, September 4, suggested a motion to reinstate language supporting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to restore a reference to God.
“As an ordained United Methodist Minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the value we have expressed in our party’s platform,” he said to a noisy crowd.
“In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party’s platform should as well,” Strickland added, with shouts of disapproval audible in the background.
“Mr. Chairman, I have submitted my amendment in writing and I believe it is being projected on the screen for the delegates to see. I move adoption of the amendment as submitted and shown to the delegates,” he said.
But as Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa tried to call the vote chaos ensued.
(Watch it here, story continues after this)
Villaraigosa asked for the vote three times. The first two voice votes, which require a two-thirds majority to pass, were tied between “ays” and “nos.”
On the third vote it was still hard to tell whether he “ays” were louder than the “nays” in the arena.
When Villaraigosa announced “the ays have it,” loud boos reverberated throughout the complex from dissenters, including from at least several Arabic Americans.
An Obama official was later quoted as saying that the president had personally intervened to request that “God” be put back into the platform. “Why did they change that?” Obama said, according to the official, cited by American media.
Obama did not mention the controversy in his 40-minute speech, urging voters to give him another chance to allow him to show the real change he was talking about during his first election campaign four years ago, amid concerns over high unemployment and other economic ills.
(Watch the Obama speech here, story continues after this)
The Convention is closely watched by both Christians and Jewish people expressing concern about the future of Israel in a turbulent Middle East, as well as about the United States.
Analysts have said Obama will need their votes to be re-elected.