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Zombies & prayer at the Georgia statehouse

ATLANTA (BP) — The zombie-laden horror series, “The Walking Dead,” and the National Day of Prayer shared common ground, literally, at the Georgia Capitol on May 3.

A number of people in eerie, dirty-looking black clothing were eating on the statehouse lawn when Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Convention, arrived early to set up for a Facebook Live airing of the noontime National Day of Prayer gathering.

“I thought maybe they were feeding the homeless,” Griffin said.

A number of trailers had been pulled to the main doors and Griffin asked a security guard, “What’s going on out here?”

“They’re filming The Walking Dead” came the reply.

The National Day of Prayer observance was slated at one end of the capitol building. The crew of The Walking Dead, which airs on the AMC cable channel, had rented the rotunda and the other end of the building, partitioning off the rotunda.

The Walking Dead set-up was noisy as cameras and other gear were carried into the building and put in place by the production crew, based in the metro Atlanta area.

But then the singing and praying of the crowd gathered for the National Day of Prayer resounded through the rotunda and hallways for much of the hour-long observance, Griffin said. Crew members from The Walking Dead stood at the side of the prayer gathering periodically to check out what was going on.

When Griffin left the statehouse, he noticed another scene that would be filmed for The Walking Dead on the street between the capitol and legislative office building. The street was littered with debris and banged-up cars, and a forklift was picking one up.

“It was kind of an odd moment, to say the least,” Griffin said of his encounter with The Walking Dead on the National Day of Prayer.

Gerald Harris, editor of Georgia Baptists’ Christian Index newsjournal, also was in attendance.

“Because of a wreck in downtown Atlanta I was a few minutes late,” Harris said in an email recap. “I asked a distinguished gentleman standing near the governor’s office where the prayer gathering was taking place. He said, ‘Walk that way, pointing left, and then turn right.’

“I did exactly what he said, but when I turned right I entered the staging area for the television program and was greeted by slovenly clothed people with pale faces and blank stares.

“What I saw in that moment was the antithesis of a group of people attempting to connect with God,” Harris said. “I soon found the right place where there was singing, testimonies and fervent prayers.

“I felt like I was transported from Dante’s Inferno to John Bunyan’s Celestial City within a matter of moments.”

According to a plot summary of the brutal horror series posted by Google: “… this gritty drama portrays life in the months and years that follow a zombie apocalypse. Led by former police officer Rick Grimes, his family and a group of other survivors … the pressure each day to stay alive sends many in the group to the deepest depths of human cruelty, and Rick discovers that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be more deadly than the zombies walking among them.” The series is in its 9th season on AMC.

Among the participants in the statehouse for the National Day of Prayer, with the theme of unity, state Sen. Bruce Thompson, a member of First Baptist Church in Cartersville, prayed, “God, we know that a house divided cannot stand and a nation divided cannot stand. Bring us together as one. Heal marriages. Heal relationships…. We pray that together we might be the United States, not the divided states — a country that is a beacon of light to so many dark places in the world.”