The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee has invited six faith leaders to participate in the Trump/Pence swearing-in ceremony. The announcement of the diverse and broad clergy lineup affirmed the new administration’s commitment to “honor the vital role religious faith plays in our multicultural, vibrant nation.”
The formal announcement identified those scheduled to give scriptural readings, invocations, or benedictions at this public ritual as Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Archbishop of New York), and Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
In addition, the swearing-in ceremonies will feature Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Pastor Paula White of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Detroit’s Great Faith Ministries International.
Apparently, blessings at presidential inaugurations have been a part these ceremonies for more than two centuries and were initially conducted by the salaried Senate chaplain. However, since 1933, various clergy have been invited to participate by the president-elect. Billy Graham, Franklin Graham’s famous-evangelist father, offered prayers at the presidential inaugurations of Richard Nixon (in 1969), George H.W. Bush (in 1989) and Bill Clinton (in 1993 and 1997). Additionally, known as the “pastor to presidents,” the senior Graham has also led private prayer services before the inaugural ceremonies.
However, in our hyper and politically correct society, inviting clergy involvement in recent inaugural ceremonies has been criticized on the basis of “separation of church and state.” Or, if Jesus Christ or of the Trinity were mentioned in these “parochial prayers,” some have been accused of offending non-Christian citizens.
Author and historian Bill Federer has written on this subject and has collected segments of judicial rulings, proving that the U.S. Constitution does not require complete “separation of Church and State.” Here are just a few Continue reading