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Here’s who will pray at Trump’s inauguration and what it means for the world

North America

Here’s who will pray at Trump’s inauguration and what it means for the world


Paula White

On January 20, the nation will hear six clergy pray over president-elect Donald Trump. They will ask for God’s blessing and favor to shine on the nation and the new president.

It will be an historic moment in more ways than one.

The six clergy are the leading evangelist Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham; Florida New Destiny Pastor Paula White, a prosperity preacher; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York who will read the Bible; Bishop Wayne Jackson, a Black prosperity pastor from Detroit; the Hispanic community’s Rev Samuel Rodriguez and Rabbi Marvin Hier.

Franklin Graham

They have all been invited to pray at the inauguration next month, according to The Washington Post. Rodriguez is slated to offer a reading and invocation, as is White. Graham is slated to offer a reading and benediction, as is Jackson.

Dolan will be the first Catholic to take part in a presidential inauguration in 40 years, since President Jimmy Carter’s in 1977, the Religion News Service reports. Rabbi Marvin Hier will be the first Jewish clergy involved since Ronald Reagan’s in 1985.

His inclusion “may reflect, in part, homage to the Jewish faith of Trump’s daughter and son-in-law.” Eldest daughter Ivanka Trump, a convert to Orthodox Judaism, is moving to Washington and is expected to serve as a stand-in to the First Lady.

The broad faith representation may also reveal a desire to please the American electorate, more pessimistic about the president-elect than any of his recent predecessors. According to the Pew Research Center, Trump’s overall campaign grade is the lowest among any presidential candidate—winning or losing—since it began collecting data in 1988.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Donald Trump has enlisted a larger, more diverse lineup of clergy than usual to pray him into office at his upcoming inauguration ceremony.

The group—bigger than any president’s since Ronald Reagan—reflects his politics, pragmatism, and personality.

White is the only pastor from Trump’s group of evangelical faith advisors scheduled to speak at the inauguration. The Mormon Tabernacle choir is slated to perform with one singer withdrawing her appearance because of her objection to Mr. Trump.

Trump has downplayed the celebrity factor in his confirmed guest list. So far, all the former presidents still alive will attend, with the exception of George H.W. Bush who cannot attend for health reasons.

Franklin Graham, who prayed also at the 2001 inauguration of George Bush, wrote on Facebook: “It is a privilege to be asked to take part in the inauguration of the next President of the United States.

The Rev Samuel Rodriguez

“I am very thankful that prayer and reading from God’s Holy Word will be a part of this important ceremony as the world watches. We need God’s blessing and favor on this nation and our new president, Donald J. Trump. I’m praying for that – will you?”

Barack Obama was criticized for choosing Pastor Rick Warren in 2008 because of his traditional stance on marriage.

Rodriguez was among those who criticized Trump during the campaign because of his statements on immigration.

Rabbi Hier, whose parents fled the Nazi holocaust in Poland, told the Post: “It’s a particular honor that shows the greatness of America.

“Whatever you turn to in the Torah, one can find connections and relevance to whatever period of history human beings live in. So that’s not going to be a challenge.”

Bishop Wayne Jackson and his wife. Credit: Facebook

In an interview with Christian Today after the election, Graham, who heads the evangelistic organization founded by his father Billy Graham, said God had without question had a hand in the election of Trump and called on Americans to “come together” and unite behind their new President.

According to polls, white evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent – a larger margin of the evangelical vote than was achieved by a Republican candidate in the past three elections.

Graham said Trump was a “changed man” from when he made lewd comments about women. He predicted he would put together the best team the US

Rabbi Marvin Hier

administration has seen for years.

The inauguration of Trump will consist of a five-day festival of balls, dinners and a parade but will culminate with a sober and serious “national prayer service” at Washington National Cathedral. This will have a focus on the Christian evangelical tradition that was key in propelling him to power.

The presence of Rabbi Hier indicates Trump’s determination to work with people of all faiths. A website has been created, along with Twitter and Facebook pages to give updates and interesting historical facts about the inauguration.

“Taken together, [Graham and White] have embodied Trump’s embrace of the twinned ideologies of Christian nationalism and capitalist Christianity,” Kevin Kruse, a history professor at Princeton University and author of One Nation Under God, told Christianity Today.

The two represent the type of “pragmatic spirituality” that Trump evoked throughout his campaign, with Graham advancing a political agenda and White a financial one, according to John D. Wilsey, author of American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion and an assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Despite Trump’s Presbyterian identity and upbringing, mainline traditions are not represented among the half-dozen clergy involved. Trump later flirted with the thinking of Norman Vincent Peale an American minister and author and a progenitor of “positive thinking”.