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News: Franklin Graham, Paula White, Samuel Rodriguez to Participate in Trump Inauguration

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The Presidential Inaugural Committee
announced on Wednesday that six prominent religious leaders will
participate in the swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Donald Trump
and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.

Among those included on the list are leading evangelist Franklin Graham, Florida-based televangelist Paula White
and Hispanic evangelical preacher Samuel Rodriguez. The other
participants include the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan;
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the co-founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of the Detroit-based Great Faith Ministries
International.
“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,” PIC Chairman Tom Barrack stated in a press release.
“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.”
Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham
Evangelistic Association and son of Billy Graham, did not endorse any
candidates for president during the 2016 election. However, he did
attend Trump’s meeting with over 900 evangelical leaders this past
summer in New York and offer a prayer.
He took to his Facebook page on Wednesday to state it will be an honor for him to participate in the inauguration ceremony.
“It is a privilege to be asked to take part in the inauguration of the next President of the United States,” he wrote.
“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.”


Rodriguez, who is the president of the
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the largest Hispanic
Christian organization in the world, said in a statement that “there is
truly no greater honor than to serve one’s country in such a special way
on such a momentous occasion” and considered it a “sacred duty.”
“I
have enjoyed getting to know President-elect Trump and his team,”
Rodriguez stated. “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. Let us begin now to pray for our new
president and his administration, and imagine together a bright future
for our exceptional nation.”
 
White, who has been credited as
being the person who helped lead Trump to Christ and serves as the
chairwoman to Trump’s evangelical advisory board, said in a statement
that it will be important to use the “sacred” ceremony to ask God to
“guide our leaders with wisdom and strength and that He would richly
bless our extraordinary home.”


“In American history, Inauguration Day
is one of the most sacred and important celebrations we have as a
people, not only because it signifies the peaceful transition of power
but also because on this day ‘We The People’ appeal to the favor,
blessing and guidance of God on our country, on our people and on our
new leadership,” she said in a press release. “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.”

News of White’s inclusion in
the ceremony was not warmly received by staunch never-Trumper Erick
Erickson, a conservative radio host and blogger. Erickson took to his blog to
voice his disapproval with White being selected to take part in the
inauguration ceremony. He even went as far as to accuse her of being a
“trinity-denying heretic.”
Some left-leaning political
commentators have also voiced their disapproval with White. The Daily
Beast criticized her for “shady fundraising practices,” which was investigated by the Senate in 2007.
“Think of Paula White‘s ministry as the church version of Trump University,” wrote Daily
Beast’s Betsy Woodruff. “She preaches the prosperity gospel, an
approach to Christianity that is, shall we say, unorthodox.
Prosperity-gospel preachers teach that God wants people to be rich, and
that he makes them wealthy as a sign of his blessing and favor; the
richer you are, the more God loves you.”

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