Religious leaders are pleading for president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration to include prayers for the Earth. Five prominent clergy sent the letter last Friday, one week before this Friday’s event, to invited spiritual speakers, as reported by Greenwire.
“We are collectively concerned about what we can expect for the quality of air and water, and the protection of our precious public lands,” state the multi-denominational letter. It references Pope Francis’s environmental tome, Laudato Si’, and Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical relief agency led by Rev. Franklin Graham, who is also President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
The letter is addressed to four of the six tapped to pray at the inauguration:
- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
- Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
- Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
- Rev. Franklin Graham
The letter asks them to “say a few words that would encourage the President and his team to make clean air and water, a safe climate for future generations, and protected public lands a top priority.”
It is unclear why the letter was not addressed to the other two invited televangelists who both preach a prosperity gospel: Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Detroit and Pastor Paula White of greater Orlando, who is called Trump’s personal minister.
Prayers have been a tradition at U.S. presidential inaugurations since 1937. Rev. Billy Graham, 98, presided at inaugurations for Presidents Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. His son Rev. Franklin Graham, 64, prayed for George W. Bush in 2001 and will return Friday for Donald Trump.
The choir of the Washington National Cathedral will perform at the inauguration, and on Saturday it will host an interfaith prayer service for the new president. At Monday’s memorial service for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Cathedral hosted an event where speakers openly challenged the incoming president.
The tradition of a church service before the inaugural ceremony will continue. The Washington Post reports: “Trump, who identifies as a Presbyterian, plans to follow tradition and attend a private family church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House the morning of the inauguration.”