Church choirs sang, a half-dozen religious leaders prayed and Donald Trump, as U.S. presidents before him, mentioned God in his inauguration speech. “There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God,” he said.
Many Americans felt Trump’s religiously infused inauguration ceremony was noteworthy for a president whose personal faith wasn’t a prominent part of his campaign. “Like many Americans, Trump has a variety of ties to organized religion, but it doesn’t define him, and he’s not well-versed in beliefs and practices,” the Deseret News reported.
However, the music heard, Christian leaders who spoke, Bibles used and subsequent church ceremony tied the inauguration together in an overall religious manner.
Two well-known religious singing groups performed on Inauguration Day. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, accompanied by the U.S. Marine Band, sang “America the Beautiful.” The Washington National Cathedral Choir of Men, Boys and Girls sang “God Bless America.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed at five previous inaugurations, for both Democratic and Republican presidents.
Trump invited six faith leaders to participate in Friday’s swearing-in ceremony. “The last seven presidential inaugurations, since the elder Bush’s in 1989, have had one or two members of the clergy offering prayers and readings,” Pew Research Center reported. None of the six was Presbyterian, Trump’s denomination.
The first three speakers, a Catholic and two evangelical Christians, shared biblical passages and an opening prayer.
A prayer of King Solomon from the ninth chapter of the Book of Wisdom was read by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York. The passage is a plea for God’s help in becoming a wise and strong leader.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, senior pastor at New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, Calif., and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, recited the Beatitudes from Matthew 5.
Pastor Paula White, a televangelist and pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla., concluded the opening religious interlude, praying for God’s blessings on Trump and the United States of America.
The second group of religious leaders spoke after Trump’s speech. Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, offered blessings for the new president and asked for God’s guidance in keeping the country focused on righteous work. He was the first rabbi since 1985 to speak during an inauguration ceremony.
Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, read from 1 Timothy 2.
Bishop Wayne Jackson, a prosperity gospel preacher and leader of Great Faith Ministries International in Detroit, Mich., shared the final benediction. “May the Lord bless and keep America … and give us peace,” he said.
Trump ended his oath of office with “so help me God,” joining a tradition that isn’t required by law.
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