The Role of Religion in Inauguration Day
The Inauguration Day of President Donald J. Trump was filled with a theme that was also a big part of the campaign trail and the elections – religion.
As previously reported by World Religion News, a throng of religious leaders – six, to be exact, were present at the inauguration to pray, the biggest presence of religious leaders in an inauguration ceremony in American history. Franklin Graham, Timothy Dolan, and Paula White are a few of the religious leaders who spoke at the Inauguration.
The day began with a religious event: in a moment of serenity before the big day, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended an inauguration day church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, a traditional part of inauguration day activities. 300 worshipers were also in attendance at the church service. The tradition of attending a church service on Inauguration Day morning began in 1933 with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Vice President Mike Pence and wife Karen were also at the service. Rev. Robert Jeffress, controversial because of his previous remarks about Muslims, Catholics, Mormons and gays, preached at the service.
Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, compared Trump to Nehemiah of the Bible, who “helped rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its walls after the people of Judah had been exiled from the land of Israel,” according to Washington Post. Jeffress spoke about Israel who had been in bondage for a long time. He mentioned that God chose to put a builder as the leader of the nation, and not a politician or a priest.
Saying that, “God is not against building walls,” Jeffress mentioned the first step for Israel to rebuild itself was the building of a wall for protection for its citizens, a wall that would combat enemy attack. He further emphasized that the biblical figure he was comparing Trump to, Nehemiah, was not fazed by his critics, and finished the project of building the wall in 52 days. According to Jeffress, Nehemiah said to his critics: “I’m doing a great work. Why should I stop the work and come down to you?” As a Trump supporter, Jeffress expressed he believed it would take a lot to stop the new president.
On an optimistic note, Reverend Franklin Graham said the presence of rain during Inauguration Day was a “sign of God’s blessing.” The ceremony at the traditional National Mall was lined with cloudy weather, which turned into rain. Graham declared, "Mr. President, in the Bible, rain is a sign of God's blessing. And it started to rain, Mr. President, when you came to the platform. And it's my prayer that God will bless you, your family, your administration, and may He bless America."
Graham also read the verses 1 Timothy 2:1-6 which is about praying for our leaders and concluded with a verse that rendered the glory to God, 1 Timothy 1:17. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International of Detroit, Michigan also had some words of inspiration to impart during the inauguration. “We’re not enemies, we are brothers and sisters. We’re not adversaries, but we’re allies. We’re not foes, but we’re friends. Let us be healed by the power of Your love and united by the bond of Your spirit.”
Faraway from Washington, Pope Francis, never to quiet down on both religious and political issues, sent a message to the new US president, telling him to “be guided by ethical values.”
"At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide. Under your leadership, may America's stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need."
The message was released by the Vatican minutes after Trump was inaugurated.
President’ Trump’s Inauguration speech can be read in full here. The President mentioned “God” a couple times, but as can be seen in the wordcloud generated from his speech, however, the most commonly used words were “will,” “America,” “American,” and “country.”