Republicans Look to New Yorkers to Bless Convention

For its religious blessings during their convention, Republicans are looking to New Yorkers.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the New York archbishop and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will give the benediction after Mitt Romney accepts the nomination, Romney announced on Wednesday. Greek Orthodox Archibishop Demetrios, the leader of the archdiocese based in New York City, will give the benediction after Rep. Paul Ryan accepts the nomination for Vice President on Wednesday night.

Dolan’s appearance comes as Catholic groups are suing the Obama administration to block a mandate that religious employers provide health insurance that covers contraception.

The Catholic diocese was quick to say that Dolan’s participation does not imply an endorsement of the Republican ticket. New York archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said Dolan offered to attend both conventions, but the Democrats haven’t yet responded. “I don’t know whether we will hear from them,” Zwilling told the BBC on Thursday. “As of now, we have not.”

No white evangelical leaders are on the current RNC lists of scheduled speakers, but there is still a slot open to give the benediction on Tuesday. A bilingual evangelist from North Carolina named Sammy Rodriguez does the honors on the first night of the convention.

Democrats hold their convention the week after the Republicans, so their list of announced speakers is more sparse, but it does not include any religious leaders so far.

Outside Democrats convention, though, a group called American Atheists is looking to grab some attention. It has placed anti-Mormon and anti-Christian billboards in Charlotte to coincide with DNC. The group also tried in Tampa but local companies refused to post them, the British paper Daily Mail reported.