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Evangelicals Left Off National Cathedral 9/11 Program
By Todd Starnes
Published September 06, 2011 | FoxNews.com
A weekend of religious-themed observances at Washington National
Cathedral marking the tenth anniversary of the September 11
terrorist attacks will include a Buddhist nun and an Imam, but
not an evangelical Christian, leading the head of the Southern
Baptist Convention to ask President Obama to reconsider
attending the event.
“A Call to Compassion” will include an interfaith prayer vigil
on Sept. 11. It will feature the dean of the Cathedral, the
Bishop of Washington, a rabbi, Buddhist nun and incarnate lama,
a Hindu priest, the president of the Islamic Society of North
America and a Muslim musician.
However, Southern Baptists, representing the nation’s largest
Protestant denomination, were not invited to participate – and
neither were leaders from any evangelical Christian
“It’s not surprising,” said Frank Page, president of the
Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. “There is a
tragic intolerance toward Protestants and particularly toward
evangelicals and I wish the president would refuse to speak
unless it was more representative.”
Richard Weinberg, the Cathedral’s director of communications,
confirmed that Southern Baptists were not extended an invitation
“The goal was to have interfaith representation,” he told Fox
News Radio. “The Cathedral itself is an Episcopal church and it
stands to reason that our own clergy serve as Christian
He said the Washington National Cathedral serves as the
“spiritual home for the nation” and as such, he said that
“diversity was first and foremost” a factor in the planning.
“We certainly aim to appeal to as many in the country as
possible and feel that our events are not any one slice that
could ever represent the entire country -- but that we are doing
our best commemorate the events as it fits with our mission,”
On Sunday night the Cathedral will host President Obama as he
delivers remarks in a program called, “A Concert of Hope.” At
least five faith leaders will deliver prayers but those
individuals have not been identified.
Weinberg said the president’s event will be a “secular service,”
but said given the setting it will include an interfaith
Page said President Obama should cancel his appearance at the
“I think it would send a very strong and very positive signal to
the left wing extremists in our country that the president ought
not show up,” Page said, calling their exclusion “purposeful.”
The White House referred questions about the services to the
“First and foremost, the breadth of the programming aims to
honor those who were most affected by the tragedy of 9/11,”
Weinberg said. “We also recognize as a Cathedral that this
country has been engaged in two wars abroad and many, many
service members, nearly six thousand, and of course that would
count much more if we counted civilian lives lost.”
“They are also a group that we want to keep in mind and lift
up,” he said.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox
News Radio the lineup was better suited for the United Nations
than the United States.
“Three quarters of the American people identify as Christian and
nearly a third of them are evangelical Christian,” Perkins said.
“And yet, there is not a single evangelical on the program.”
“There’s no doubt that this is clearly politically correct,”
Perkins told Fox News Radio. “It is historically inaccurate that
in times of need or mourning that Americans pray to the Hindu or
Buddhist Gods or the God of Islam. America is overtly a
Christian nation that prays to the Judeo-Christian God – and
specifically to Jesus Christ.”
Page called political correctness the “elephant in the room.”
“It is very clear that it is that it is not politically correct
to include evangelical Christians,” he said.
“Obviously, tolerance is at work here. In a nation whose current
God is tolerance, it is absolutely hypocritical that the major
group to be excluded and be intolerant of – is evangelical