Inauguration Prayers

Episcopalians Uneasy about Cathedral Inauguration Role

on January 13, 2017

The Washington National Cathedral is once again at the center of controversy, but this time it isn’t for political pronouncements from the pulpit. The Episcopal cathedral is garnering criticism from some Episcopalians – including within the Episcopal Diocese of Washington – for hosting a regular interfaith prayer service as part of festivities marking the U.S. Presidential Inauguration, and for agreeing to send its boys choir to perform at the Inauguration itself.

Sarah Bryan Miller at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has more:

In a statement, the cathedral’s chief communications officer, Kevin Eckstrom, said, “We do not pray or sing to bless a political ideology or partisan agenda. From its earliest days, the Cathedral was conceived as a ‘great church for national purposes,’ a place that could assist the nation in marking significant moments in our national life. For decades, the Cathedral choirs have participated in those moments, particularly when they involve the office of the president of the United States.

“The choir was invited to join the inaugural ceremonies as one of three choirs who were chosen to help celebrate the peaceful transfer of power and to honor the office of the president. [The Dean] accepted this invitation as part of our role to serve as a spiritual home for the nation.”

The performance, he said, is optional for members of the choir, and most will participate. The spokesman did not respond to inquiries about the number of singers who will take part, whether they will be paid or the repertoire.

The Post-Dispatch story goes on to quote Anne LeVeque, a vestry member at nearby Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Silver Spring, Maryland who has concerns:

“We do this every four years, regardless of who the president is,” she said. “Celebrating the inauguration goes beyond that. In a very real sense, it’s honoring the person who is being inaugurated.”

Sarah Pulliam Bailey at the Washington Post reports that past Cathedral Dean Gary Hall is among the critics who oppose the cathedral’s role in the Trump inauguration:

“I think the faith community should be a center of resistance against Donald Trump’s vision in America,” Hall said, adding that he believes any participation in the inauguration legitimizes Trump.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry weighed in on Thursday with a statement, noting that there has been controversy “about the appropriateness of the Washington National Cathedral hosting the Inaugural Prayer Service this year, and of church choirs singing at inaugural events.”

“We can and, indeed, I believe we must pray for all who lead in our civic order, nationally and internationally. I pray for the President in part because Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord.  If Jesus is my Lord and the model and guide for my life, his way must be my way, however difficult. And the way prayer for others is a part of how I follow the way of Jesus.”

While the Washington National Cathedral is both the seat of the Bishop of Washington and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the church considers itself “a house of prayer for all people” and is regularly the site of funerals for former government officials and other ceremonies of American civil religion.

The Episcopal denomination, of which nearly one-quarter of all U.S. Presidents were affiliated with, has become increasingly liberal in recent decades. The church’s General Convention issues political pronouncements that typically align with the far left of the Democratic Party, and the Cathedral itself inserted itself into public conversation about gun control advocacy, same-sex marriage, voting rights and the Confederate battle flag.

Earlier this week a liberal Episcopal parish in Pasadena, California made news by announcing that it would no longer pray for the President of the United States by name in its Sunday liturgy, citing “an active danger to health and safety” of the congregation by using the name of President-Elect Donald J. Trump that may be a “trauma trigger” to some.

UPDATE [1/17/2017]: National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith writes: “I understand the strong disagreement many people have with the decisions to accept an invitation for the Cathedral choir to sing at the Inauguration and for the Cathedral to host the Inaugural Prayer Service. I am sorry those decisions have caused such turmoil and pain. Yet I stand by those decisions — not because we are celebrating the President-elect, but because we want to model for him, and the rest of the country, an approach to civility.”

  1. Comment by Edward on January 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    What??? The leaders of this church should be reminded that the mention of the name “President Barack Obama” was the cause of choking to many people! Yet the same people endured its being mentioned in prayer in church for a good 8 years!

  2. Comment by Grandpa Dino on January 13, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I am not at all surprised that the episcopalians who preach ‘inclusion’ seek to exclude people with whom they disagree. Their hypocrisy is legendary.

  3. Comment by LBB on January 13, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    With everything that has gone on in that cathedral in recent years, THIS is what incites indignation? Lord, have mercy.

  4. Comment by Jay Bunting on January 13, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    It is not surprising that the church that touts itself on being “inclusive” thinks that it is ok to “exclude” those who do not think as they do. How can the cathedral be “a house of prayer for ALL people” if it wants to not participate in the inauguration, that even violates the scripture to pray for the nation’s leaders.

  5. Comment by Barb on January 13, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Amen! Sickening, isn’t it?

  6. Comment by netrek on January 13, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    This is shameful! They supported every Leftist policy of Obama for 8 long years, yet praying for Trump causes them to retreat to their safe spaces?! Pathetic. Generation Snowflake indeed.

  7. Comment by Adeyinka on January 14, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    that church is not a church,it a place where paganism is practiced,i used to be a member

  8. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 14, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    The Trump phenomenon must not have as much clout as Trump himself claims to possess! And when HE claims his superiority, it seems only right that true people of faith might wish to shun him.

  9. Comment by Grateful on January 16, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    It’s people like you who give Christianity a bad name. But then, I suppose it is fitting since the Episcopal Church is no longer a Christian Church and no longer excepts scripture as the foundation of the Church.
    After all, it was presiding Bishop Catherine Jeffert Schorey who proclaimed that accepting Christ as the only means to salvation was putting “God in a very small box.”

  10. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 17, 2017 at 8:28 am

    If you think about that quote, isn’t Rev. Jeffert-Schorey right? Given that “God” is not just the Christian God, but God to ALL other religions, any attempt to claim Him for their own, is putting Him in a small box?

    If there were ONE person whose moral character seemed a threat to Humanity OR Mainline Religion, it would be Donald J.Trump!

  11. Comment by thushjz on January 17, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Your President (Obama) stole my autistic son’s healthcare away when Obamacare kicked in in 2014. The new plan is more expensive with a huge deductible $6,500. How in hell is that “Christian?”

  12. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    I’m sorry your son’s Health Insurance costs more. I’m fairly certain that’s because the Insurance Industry determined that rate, and not President Obama.

    I too, have a high deductible on my Obamacare policy, and I’m not sure what will be my fate after the incoming Trump administration repeals our Healthcare.

    I can appreciate your sentiment regarding Obama not being YOUR President. My wife and I feel the same way about Trump!

    Best of luck to you and your son!

  13. Comment by thushjz on January 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    The difference being I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt for 2 years before I realized his policies were not only going to affect my son’s healthcare, but also his Christian college that had to file a lawsuit to get Obama’s HHS abortion pill mandate off their backs similar to what happened to the little sisters of the poor. My kids Christian school won their lawsuit btw. At least I gave Obama the chance for awhile. you however are attacking and bashing Trump before he even gets in office…not very tolerant now is it?

  14. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 17, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    You are again correct, I am not giving Trump any slack…and I’ll change my approach after he actually does something constructive.
    Why should I acquiesce to someone who clearly acts like a petulant toddler while he expects good people of faith to see past his dalliances and disrespectfulness?

    If the abortifacient aspect of the HHS mandate bothered you for religious reasons, why not just avoid getting pregnant, rather than deny all others’ their right to choose? After all, no tax dollars go to fund abortion, and a pill is just another way of managing one’s family planning.

    You might feel better knowing that the current number of abortions is at it’s lowest since 1972. That might also have something to do with there being fewer clinics that perform them, but that option is still legal and hopefully will remain so in spite of the incoming administration’s attitude toward women’s rights.

    I hope to see you and your family in Washington DC this Saturday for the Womens March!


  15. Comment by thushjz on January 17, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    if you voted for Bill Clinton the serial rapist according to Juanita Broderick, Paula jones and many many other women you’re a fine example of a hypocrite calling trump sexist, misogynist etc…

  16. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 18, 2017 at 8:37 am

    I voted for Ross Perot. He had charts illustrating the future!
    Trump has bigger problems beyond his misogyny!

  17. Comment by thushjz on January 18, 2017 at 9:05 am

    if you like your plan you can keep your plan.

  18. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 18, 2017 at 9:11 am

    LOL! Touche’
    Similarly. “If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.”

  19. Comment by thushjz on January 18, 2017 at 10:42 am

    I don’t have religion, gave that up a long time ago. I have a relationship with the living God Jesus. The Prince of Peace. : )

  20. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 18, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    That’s wonderful! May you continue to be blessed with that relationship.

  21. Comment by thushjz on January 17, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    And im sorry I wont be at your March, I’m performing in a band in Vail Colo. that day for a very joyful event, which should be a blast…have fun marching.

  22. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 18, 2017 at 8:40 am

    It’s not MY March, it’s America’s March!

    Any musical gig is better than any Political gig…unless you’re having to perform for a Plutocrat!
    Make a Joyful noise! Best to you too!

  23. Comment by Mike Ward on January 18, 2017 at 10:07 am

    My insurance went way up too. We had to drop to a plan with less coverage (my company offers three) I wasn’t surprised even though I certainly remember Democrats insisting cost would go down because they said that caring for the uninsured was driving up cost.

  24. Comment by thushjz on January 18, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Obamacare was never about healthcare. It took from Peter to pay Paul as evidenced by the people that lost their plans (including my own son) and it gave to others. It was about govt.control of healthcare from day one.

  25. Comment by Mike Ward on January 18, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Back when it passed the Dem’s thought they’d be in power for at least 25 years. I think they didn’t care that it was going to fail because when it did they would just replace it with whatever it was they really wanted.

  26. Comment by Grateful on January 17, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Words inspired by Satan. But. it appears the entire leftist liberal movement is inspired by Satan. Shorey is wrong…that is she is wrong if you believe scripture. Since the Episcopal church has clearly rejected scripture and the teachings of Christ, and the salvation of Christ, it can no longer be a Christian Church. It now appears to me to be either a universalist church or an agnostic Church but I’m not sure that those who remain in the ever dwindling Episcopal Church even know.

  27. Comment by MarcoPolo on January 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Your assessment of the Episcopal Church is about right. But wouldn’t it still be considered a “Christian” church, just not “Orthodox”?
    If you consider the Reformation a kind of schism, wouldn’t this situation be similar?

    The garden varieties of Christendom have many people praising His name, in spite of the denomination. How are we to treat each and every one of those? Differently? With Grace?

    I don’t consider other people’s opinions to be inspired by Satan simply because I don’t agree with their ideology. Did I say something that might get me stoned to death?

  28. Comment by Lawrence Hill on January 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    This demonination, along with the United Church of Christ, is in a neck and neck race to see which will have the most members populate Hell…

  29. Comment by Craig Galer on January 17, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Good grief. . . You only ever pray for people you like? What credit is that to you? Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. I recall somebody important said that, once upon a time. . .

  30. Comment by john doe on January 18, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    This cathedral hosts homosexual “weddings.”

    Anyone see the irony of them finding Trump so offensive?

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