The Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced the names of a number of well-known faith leaders who will participate in the Jan. 20, 2017, swearing-in of president-elect Donald Trump and vice-president elect Mike Pence.
The committee announced the names of six faith leaders on Wednesday who will take part in the historic event. The Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Pastor Paula White of New Destiny Christian Center will offer readings and are giving the invocation.
Other familiar names will also participate in the festivities, with the Rev. Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse and The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International and Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, also slated to offer readings and deliver the benediction.
Graham, White and Rodriguez, in particular, are well-known names in the Christian world, with their notable presence at the inauguration understandably making headlines.
For her part, White responded in a statement to the announcement of her participation, saying she is “deeply honored and grateful to be given the privilege of participating in the swearing in,” and expressed her belief that Inauguration Day is “one of the most sacred and important celebrations we have as a people.”
“I will be humbled to stand shoulder to shoulder on stage with the new administration, other distinguished men and women of faith, and with the great sea of witnesses watching around the country and around the world who continue to pray for God to bless America,” White said.
Rodriguez, too, also expressed his thanks to Trump’s team for including him in the Jan. 20 event, adding that it is a wonderful honor and that he has enjoyed getting to know Trump and his team in recent months.
“As a pastor, I know that faith holds our nation together and I count participating in the Inauguration of our nation’s 45th president as not just a patriotic honor, but as a sacred duty, for we will stand not only before men, but before God Almighty himself to seek his blessing and guidance,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “Let us begin now to pray for our new president and his administration, and imagine together a bright future for our exceptional nation.”
These faith leaders will take the stage, as Trump officially utters the oath of office — an oath that reads, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
It’s certainly no surprise to see clergy taking part in the event, though some of this year’s names are intriguing. Prayer, according to a statement from Presidential Inaugural Committee chairman Tom Barrack, has traditionally played an important role in inaugurations, with the 2017 event following suit.
“Since the first inaugural ceremony, our leaders have paid tribute to the blessings of liberty that have been bestowed upon our country and its people,” Barrack said on Wednesday. “I am pleased to announce that a diverse set of faith leaders will offer readings and prayers at the swearing-in of president-elect Trump and honor the vital role religious faith plays in our multicultural, vibrant nation.”
Find out more about the presidential transition here.
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