A record number of Christian and Jewish clergy are to lead prayers at the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The six clergy are the leading evangelist Franklin Graham, Florida New Destiny Pastor Paula White, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop Wayne Jackson, the Hispanic community’s Rev Samuel Rodriguez and Rabbi Marvin Hier.
They have all been invited to pray at the inauguration next month, according to The Washington Post.
Franklin Graham, who prayed also at the 2001 inauguration of George Bush, wrote on Facebook: “It is a privilege to be asked to take part in the inauguration of the next President of the United States.
“I am very thankful that prayer and reading from God’s Holy Word will be a part of this important ceremony as the world watches. We need God’s blessing and favor on this nation and our new president, Donald J. Trump. I’m praying for that – will you?”
Barack Obama was criticised for choosing Pastor Rick Warren in 2008 because of his traditional stance on marriage.
Rodriguez was among those who criticised Trump during the campaign because of his statements on immigration.
Rabbi Hier, whose parents fled the Nazi holocaust in Poland, told the Post: “It’s a particular honor that shows the greatness of America.
“Whatever you turn to in the Torah, one can find connections and relevance to whatever period of history human beings live in. So that’s not going to be a challenge.”
In an interview with Christian Today after the election, Graham, who heads the evangelistic organisation founded by his father Billy Graham, said God had without question had a hand in the election of Trump and called on Americans to “come together” and unite behind their new President.
According to polls, white evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent – a larger margin of the evangelical vote than was achieved by a Republican candidate in the past three elections.
Graham said Trump was a “changed man” from when he made lewd comments about women. He predicted he would put together the best team the US administration has seen for years.
The inauguration of Trump will consist of a five-day festival of balls, dinners and a parade but will culminate with a sober and serious “national prayer service” at Washington National Cathedral. This will have a focus on the Christian evangelical tradition that was key in propelling him to power.
But the presence of Rabbi Hier indicates Trump’s determination to work with people of all faiths. A website has been created, along with Twitter and Facebook pages to give updates and interesting historical facts about the inauguration.