Abortion protesters rocked the first few minutes of the Democratic National Convention's first- ever interfaith prayer gathering Sunday afternoon, but the party faithful rebounded to touch on topics from warfare to forgiveness.
With gospel singers' swelling voices in the background, three unidentified men screamed accusations against the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama: "Obama supports the murder of children."
A second man shouted: "Obama is a baby killer."
The crowd, which filled roughly half of the 5,000-seat Wells Fargo Theater, booed and shouted back, drowning out the men even before law officers forced them outside.
Ignoring the disruptions, Democratic National Convention Committee chief executive Leah Daughtry, a Pentecostal pastor, told an audience roaring in agreement that "we didn't need to bring faith to the party; faith was already here."
"Today, we honor and respect our differences while striving to find our commonality," Daughtry said.
Speakers were free to address whatever topic they chose:
• The keynote speaker, Bishop Charles E. Blake, a Los Angeles pastor and presiding prelate of the 6 million-member Church of God in Christ, returned to the subject of abortion."Something within us must be calling for a better way," Blake said. "If we do not resist at this point, at what point can we resist?"
• Catholic social activist Sister Helen Prejean won shouts of approval and standing ovations as she called for Americans to denounce violence.
• Ingrid Mattson, the first woman and first Muslim convert to serve as president of the Islamic Society of North America, said the United States needs to humbly serve as an example of justice and equality.
"Before we hope to impact the rest of the world, we need to expand our knowledge of the world," Mattson said.
• Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, said to love God means to feed and clothe the poor, heal the sick, comfort the grieving and educate the ignorant.
Many of those attending said the protesters were just a minor distraction from a service that set the right tone for the convention.
"There's no monopoly on God," said Bishop Dennis V. Proctor, of the A.M.E Zion Church's western district. "So often, others have held up the flag before the cross. They've used religion to divide so often rather than unite."
But not everyone thought the service was inclusive enough.
Three Latino Catholic women from Denver said the speeches were moving but the lineup was symptomatic of what they perceive as a hole in the Obama campaign. Latinos, they said, were not well represented.
Cecilia Flores said she heard speakers use Hebrew, but no one spoke in Spanish.
And Flor Lovato said the service was aimed at blacks and whites.
More work, she said, needs to be done to encourage understanding and acceptance among people of differing faiths and backgrounds.
"We're more similar than different," she said.
Staff writer Kimberly S. Johnson and Brandi Grissom of Media News Group contributed to this report.