Thursday 18/10/2018 - 03:57 am


This weekend, America can use all the prayer it can get

By Colbert I. King


2017.01.21 06:06

 Washington is praying up a storm this weekend.

 
From the west front of the U.S. Capitol to the nave in the Washington National Cathedral, throngs of people, led by America’s conservative and religious elites, have assembled to lift up in prayer, song and praise the 45th president of the United States.
 
That the person whose well-being is being prayed for is Donald Trump is secondary to the overarching point that the prayers are for the chief executive and main leader of our civic order. At least that is the message to the masses delivered by the host of Saturday’s interfaith Inaugural Prayer Service at the cathedral.
 
“It is an opportunity to honor the office of the presidency and seek God’s guidance for our leaders, our nation and all nations,” is the way the Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith , dean of the National Cathedral, put it in his statement on the Episcopal Church’s role in this weekend’s events.
 
Others, especially the crowd that cheered the presidential oath-taking on Friday, don’t see it the dean’s way. They are praying for Trump. They seek blessings for his agenda. They sing in praise of his values, words and deeds. They believe that God is working for good through him.
 
To be sure, they are paying reverence to the same conceited, pretentious Donald Trump who can’t handle criticism, who belittles people, who hungers for admiration and deference to the point of pathology, and who behaves and speaks offensively and divisively without cease.
 
The same Donald Trump who is the first U.S. president to take office even as the government, including a Senate committee, is investigating allegations of links between a foreign country — Russia — and his political campaign.
 
Yes, the same Donald Trump who enters the White House as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed against him this week by a former contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice” over his response to her charge that he groped her during a 2007 job interview.
 
During the presidential campaign, more than 10 women accused this same Donald Trump of inappropriate sexual contact. He denied every allegation, calling the women liars, and telling a crowd at Gettysburg, Pa., on Oct. 22: “All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.” Three months later, no such lawsuit has been filed.
 
That Donald Trump, now entrusted with leadership in the United States and the world, is expected to pursue justice, truth and serve the common good.
 
Every good wish.
 
As stated at the outset, Washington is given over to prayer this weekend.
 
But not just for those who, as the Book of Common Prayer says, “bear the authority of government in this and every land.”
 
Away from the Capitol and the National Cathedral where the peaceful transfer of power is being blessed, people in less stately surroundings are also hard at prayer. Theirs, however, is for compassion and for bringing real meaning to the words “love your neighbor as yourself.”
 
They are praying for the well-being of 18 million people who could lose health insurance in the first year if Congress and Trump repeal Obamacare without replacing it with a program that protects those it currently covers. .
 
Their prayers are being offered up for the more than 700,000 immigrants and their families at risk because of Trump’s pledge to repeal President Obama’s executive order providing temporary reprieve from deportation and renewal of two-year work permits.
 
Some of their prayers are seeking God’s intervention to change the hearts and minds of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas, who swore in the president and vice president, respectively, on Friday.
 
The prayerful are lamenting the decision by Roberts, Thomas and three other justices to gut the Voting Rights Act with a ruling that enabled more than a dozen states to put new restrictions in place for November’s presidential election.
 
That’s not all.
 
At the same hour the Washington National Cathedral is praying for Donald Trump and his administration’s coterie of Jeff Sessions, Kellyanne Conway, Stephen K. Bannon and the like, lesser known folks across the nation will ask that blessings be bestowed upon the diverse gathering of women — and men — in downtown Washington, who are taking their first steps in a march to send a bold message to the new government that it must honor human rights, dignity, justice and equity for all.
 
Yes, this weekend, we in Washington are praying up a storm.
 
And why not?
 
In the words of an old African American spiritual, today America “is standing in the need of prayer.”
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