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Trump’s inaugural interfaith prayer service: Few details so far

Trump’s inaugural interfaith prayer service: Few details so far

Updated, late Thursday afternoon:

The Washington Post reports that Trump and his family will attend St. John’s Episcopal Church for a “private family church service” on the morning of the inauguration.

The official inauguration ceremonies are set to launch with the president-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, Jan. 19, the committee announced. That will be followed by a welcome concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The events will conclude with a National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, Jan. 21.

The Associated Press reports that Washington National Cathedral will host the inaugural interfaith prayer service in January, but few details have been disclosed by Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, will be involved. From the Washington Post, among the media outlets publishing the news:

Washington Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde, who oversees the cathedral, declined an interview request Wednesday. She released a brief statement saying the service “is a moment for our next president to pause and contemplate the incredible responsibility he has been entrusted with and to listen as the faith community offers prayers for the office of the president.” In an interview Tuesday on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” Budde said “all faiths will be represented at his (Trump’s) request and we will pray for the good of our nation.”

PR executive Johnnie Moore, “a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, which meets weekly,” and head of The KAIROS Company, says the service is “‘going to be reconciliatory.’ He said the ceremony will underscore “the president-elect’s commitment to having a presidency for all Americans.'”

The AP report underscores the religious controversy surrounding Trump’s election:

Trump won 81 percent of white evangelical voters and 52 percent of the overall Catholic vote. Conservative Christians and others have been deeply heartened by Trump’s promise to appoint conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices, among other pledges.

But Trump lost Latino Catholics and attracted only 24 percent of Jews. He has drawn condemnations from a wide range of religious leaders over his calling Mexicans rapists, and pledging to deport large numbers of immigrants in the country illegally, while severely restricting visitors from Muslim nations. This week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced a new working group to advocate on behalf of immigrants and refugees. Earlier this month, more than 300 American Muslim leaders sent a letter to Trump expressing grave concern about his incoming administration, including appointees who have cast suspicion on all Muslims as a potential terror threat.

These tensions could discourage some religious leaders from participating in the cathedral service. “As a matter of conscience, religious leaders who are concerned about the next administration might do well to be a part of this ceremony and to pray for what they would like to see, to lift up religious freedom, to lift up a country that is religiously diverse and call on the president-elect to remember that as he takes office,” [Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum Institute’s Charles] Haynes said.


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Debbie House

Trump was cheered last night at Christmas Eve mass these Episcopalians.

Jay Croft

I just learned that the tradition of Inauguration services at the Cathedral dates back to FDR’s inauguration in 1933.

Edward Phifer

Wow. So sad for America.

Jay Croft

Yes, there certainly is tension. Notice Bishop Budde’s curt comments, for example. How long has the Cathedral held such services?

However, the Cathedral’s motto has long been “a house of prayer for all people,” and that includes people like me who were negatively affected by the election.

In the Prayers of the People in the BCP, we pray for the President. During the Bush era I prayed that he get some sense into his head.

JC Fisher

“However, the Cathedral’s motto has long been “a house of prayer for all people,” and that includes people like me who were negatively affected by the election.”

I agree. TEC has worked hard on getting to the “All means ALL” doctrine and—recoiling our nausea—that “all” has to mean Trump, too.

I pray Trump develops a conscience: God still works miracles, right?

J H Pearson

Thanks for commenting, we ask that you please use your first and last name in future – editor

The Episcopal Church lives in a space of dialectical tension, moving dynamically between the poles of Prophecy and Order. In its history, sometimes the Church stands for radical, prophetic change bettering our world, our faith community and ourselves. But mostly it stands for the conventional order of things; it’s conformist, traditional, hide-bound, “the establishment-at-prayer.” By lending the National Cathedral to sacralize and legitimate this regime, the Episcopal Church is abdicating its responsibility to be radically prophetic. On Inaguration Day, refuse to be co-opted.

The Trump regime will lead us further away from democratic and republican values toward dynasty and demagoguery. If you’re part of the religious majorities of church-folk who supported, normalized and legitimated Trump, please don’t say in the months and years ahead that you bear no responsibility for the deep national division and steep decline any sensible person can see is lying just ahead of us.

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