Monday, January 21, 2013

Lots of Prayer Services Surround Inauguration Today-- Diversity and Controversy

Yesterday, the day of President Obama's official swearing-in, the Obama family attended Sunday services at the historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington. (Huffington Post).  Today's formal Presidential inauguration events will begin with the President attending a worship service at St. John's Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House. An inauguration day prayer service attended by the President prior to his swearing-in has been a tradition since the time of Franklin Roosevelt. On Tuesday, the President, Vice-President and their spouses will attend the 57th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service, an interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral. (CNN).

Meanwhile today, two unofficial prayer breakfasts are planned in Washington. (Toledo Blade.) The one sponsored by religious conservatives at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel, the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, has become so controversial that the Senate Chaplain, Rev. Barry Black, has withdrawn. However the House Chaplain Rev. Patrick J. Conroy will attend. According to Washington Whispers, the breakfast: "features special guests Pat Robertson, a televangelist whose commentary has managed to offend gays, Haitians and feminists alike, Jonathan Cahn, a preacher who believes some of Obama's actions are apocalyptic, and Joseph Farah, the editor of WorldNetDaily who has long pushed the birther conspiracy theories about the president's citizenship." A second prayer breakfast, sponsored by Ask for America, will be held at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. It will feature speakers more in line with President Obama's outlook, including Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, International Ambassador for Religious Freedom; Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr. President of Esperanza; Dr. Meadowlark Lemon, Mr. Basketball of the Harlem Globetotters; Brian Roquemore, America's All Stars Youth Organization; and Bishop Roderick Caeser, Bethel Gospel Tabernacle, Queens NY.

All of this of course is in addition to the previously reported switch in pastors for the benediction at the formal Inauguration Ceremony.