Evangelical Pastor Mark Burns delivers hateful prayer at Republican National Convention.

Controversy hit the republican camp again last Monday after the Republican National Convention held in Cleveland. A small town pastor from South Carolina, Mark Burns, delivered his benediction in the afternoon session of the opening day of the convention. The benediction offered was widely considered to be filled with theological malpractices as it actively used Jesus’ name as a partisan tool in a bid to demonize Hillary Clinton and Democrats in general.

From his opening statement, Burns said that he was there to pray since the Republicans had to be united against the enemy who according to him is Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. He then went on to pray, thanking God for the life of Donald Trump and for guiding Trump with words that unite the party and the country in general. He also prayed that they could defeat the liberal Democratic Party who were dividing the population instead of uniting them. He closed his prayer with, “Because we are the United States of America, and we are the Conservative party under God.”

Burns is best known for being a minister of the prosperity gospel which teaches that prosperity and particularly financial gain can be attained through faith in Jesus. The controversy hit almost immediately after the benediction was made. On Twitter, Amy Sullivan, who had for many years covered politics and religion in America, said that she had never seen such a benediction in all her years of covering both Democratic and Republican conventions.

The backlash was further fueled by the fact that Donald Trump has actively resorted to using religion as a tool for the division of Americans. From his anti-Semitic imagery as seen during the Jewish controversy on Twitter to his open Islamophobic rhetoric, Trump has only worked to further his white nationalist agenda. Now through the benediction, his camp had directly targeted Democrats, terming them as the enemy and coupling all that hate with prayer.

Religion should however be used to bring people together, and promote peace and justice for all. Mixing of theology and bad theology is known as knavery, and this was mostly practiced by politicians decades ago, before the official separation of church and state.

According to Christianity and theological teachings, enemies should not be the people but instead you should stand up against powers and principalities. Therefore, political stunts like this benediction by Burns should be strongly shunned by people of all religious backgrounds regardless of political affiliation.

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