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UPDATE – Trump doesn’t want preaching at the prayer service

UPDATE – Trump doesn’t want preaching at the prayer service

There has been a lot of traffic to the three stories that we have posted regarding the participation of both the facility of The National Cathedral and the Cathedral’s Choir of Men, Boys & Girls. All three stories are up on the Café’s blogsite and also posted to our Facebook page. All six locations have scores of comments, mostly against the choir’s participation in the Inauguration of Donald Trump, and fewer in favor of the participation. There have been some points that folks appear to have missed in the statements made by the various ecclesiastical leaders regarding the participation.

Some folks who have seen the program for the Inauguration have asked where the Cathedral choir will be singing. To be clear, Dean Hollerith has stated that the choir was invited by the Inauguration Committee to provide a musical prelude to the civic ceremonies. He said the choir would be singing three or four songs but at the time of her statement they had not yet been determined.

Some, in their comments, have been hoping that the post-inauguration prayer service, to be held in the National Cathedral, might at least be a moment of prophetic call to the new administration. In an article in yesterday’s Washington Post, Bishop Budde was quoted as stating that Donald Trump had requested that there be no preaching at the service.

This is not the occasion that we will use to address particular issues of policy or concerns we might have about the direction he’s taking the country. The scriptures and the prayers will include clear directives about Jesus’s command to love your neighbor.

There’s a lot of guidance and even prophetic truth in simply gathering and setting your sights to sacred texts in how we’re to live as a society. We will then get more specific about how we’ll engage in public life when the situation calls for it.

The Rt Revd Mariann Budde
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington

It is also being reported by some who have called the Cathedral to protest the situation, that if you listen to the lengthy outgoing message, the prayer service is not open to the public. It is a private event that requires tickets which are being distributed by the Inauguration Committee.

I made the main image to illustrate this story.


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Prof Christopher Seitz

Thought it was clear. On all of the previous occasions when electoral win and numerical win differed no one amended the Constitution.

Paul Woodrum

If there is to be no sermon, perhaps 10 minutes of silence in which people could tweet their thoughts would be appropriate.

I think we need to remember that, while the venue may be Episcopal, the service is not. It is an inter-faith prayer service at which many folks who are beyond the boundaries of Christianity will be present and taking part. Also, as the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul rarely identifies itself as Episcopal — preferring “national” to “denominational,” even Mr. Trump’s presence will probably not destroy The Episcopal Church.

Kevin McGrane

The Constitution, with its 27 amendments, has been amended only 17 times since the first 10—which make up the Bill of Rights—were ratified in 1791.

-The Bill of Rights Institute.

No one has ever amended the constitution???

Prof Christopher Seitz

“there is nothing in the bible, the canon law of the Episcopal Church, the US Constitution, or any federal, state, or local law that states the the Washington National Cathedral must not only send its Choir of Men and Boys (and Girls) to the inauguration but also host a prayer service for which the President-elect may dictate whether or not there will be a sermon.”

I don’t believe anyone is forcing the National Cathedral to do anything!

This may come of what it means to call yourself “the National Cathedral” and to have accepted the land grant lo these many years ago. It is a strange erastian kind of polity, unlike anything else in TEC. But no one’s hands were forced. In the day it probably looked like “The Power of Their Glory,” as the old book title put it.

David Geyer

You were essentially engaged in a debate over which should take precedence in the Dean’s decision to host a prayer service (with or without a sermon): a majority of voters in the United States or the electoral college.
The National Cathedral may well be a “strange erastian kind of polity,” as you put it. But I find your argument to be an exercise either in sophistry or in obscurantism. Take your pick.
The bottom line here is: like it or not as a constitutional matter, the electoral college is not–nor in my opinion, should it be–relevant to the question of whether the Cathedral should participate this weekend, either by sending the choir to inauguration or by hosting a prayer service.

Prof Christopher Seitz

All states are winner take all, excepting ME and NE. So in the states Trump lost “everyone who voted for Donald had their vote ignored in those states and only the votes for Hilary were honored by the Electors from those states.”

Prof Christopher Seitz

The theory was territorial not numerical, so that large states with small populations could be represented. We tend to forget the state character of our unique federalism. Except for the negative example of slave-holding of course….

Does one imagine it will be changed? I doubt it. Losers can often seize on things like this, but it was never adjusted in prior times — as recently as Al Gore’s loss. And of course he never blamed the electoral system as flawed.

David Geyer

Professor, yes, but in theology not political science…
As it is, the issue here is neither theological nor political.
Let’s be clear: there is nothing in the bible, the canon law of the Episcopal Church, the US Constitution, or any federal, state, or local law that states the the Washington National Cathedral must not only send its Choir of Men and Boys (and Girls) to the inauguration but also host a prayer service for which the President-elect may dictate whether or not there will be a sermon.
The issue here, rather, is moral or ethical–and as such subject to debate without a definitive conclusion. In other words, we can agree to disagree. My own view is that since the President-elect clearly does not give much thought to following tradition, customs, norms, or even the spirit of the law, then the National Cathedral and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington should not be bound in any way to serve his personal or secular interests. That being said, I think the Dean was right to agree to the prayer service (sermon or not) but should have politely declined to send the choir to the inauguration.

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