The 6 Religious Leaders Who Will Pray At Trump's Inauguration

ReutersUS President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated on January 20

Donald Trump has chosen the largest group of clergy and religious leaders to pray and speak at his inauguration next week.

Six pastors and other faith leaders will pray or offer a blessing of some form – more than have done so at the inauguration of any other US president.

Trump's list of names is diverse, ranging from the Hispanic evangelical Samuel Rodriguez to Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Jewish Rabbi Marvin Hier.

Since 1989 Presidents have chosen just one or two people to pray at their inaugurations, with Ronald Reagan in 1985 the last to have a Rabbi. The bigger and more extravagant range of figures is typical of Trump – who tops Richard Nixon's choice of five leaders at his inauguration in 1969.

The six names display a variety across different faith traditions. But they all have one thing in common – all have some form of personal connection to Trump or have publicly supported him.

Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham/FacebookFranklin Graham has not disguised his support for the Republican, although he did not officially endorse him.

The son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, who prayed at the ceremonies for Richard Nixon, George Bush and Bill Clinton, has himself already prayed at the ceremony in 2001 for George W Bush.

The younger Graham refrained from publicly endorsing Trump during the campaign but frequently indicated his strong support for the Republican. After a video showing lewd comments Trump made about women, Graham said: "The crude comments made by Donald J Trump more than 11 years ago cannot be defended. But the godless progressive agenda of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton likewise cannot be defended... The most important issue of this election is the Supreme Court."

He has repeatedly referred to the importance of the Supreme Court, which Trump has vowed to flood with conservative judges.

The outspoken figure, who has taken over from his father at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, has faced calls to step down from praying over accustions that he has an "extremist" attitude towards Islam.

Paula White

(Facebook/Paula White)Pastor Paula White is seen as Trump's 'spiritual adviser' and helped him meet dozens of other evangelical leaders

White, a preacher from Florida, is known for her teaching on "abundancy" and her own lavish lifestyle.

The televangelist is credited with Trump's much-heralded "conversion" and has defended his enormous wealth.

"Every day you're [living] your destiny, designed by God and discovered by you," White said in a recent sermon. "You're either in a position of abundance, you're in a position of prosperity, or you're in a position of poverty. Now that's in every area of your life... You're living abundant in your affairs of life – and that includes your financial conditions – or you're living in poverty."

She will be the only woman to pray on January 20 and only the second woman in history after civil rights campaigner Medgar Evers's widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, was the first in 2013.

Rabbi Marvin Hier

ReutersDean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Marvin Hier runs the Museum of Tolerance

The first Rabbi to be chosen since Reagan's second inauguration in 1985, Hier has said it is a "particular honour" to be chosen and said it "shows the greatness of America".

Hier's parents fled Poland before the Holocaust and he now runs the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The project aims "to confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today".

As a result of this role, Hier has also faced calls to step down because "Trump's entire presidential campaign encouraged the opposite".

Fellow Rabbi Jason Miller wrote in TIME: "He [Trump] denigrated immigrants, mocked the disabled and disrespected women."

He added: "By refusing this role, Rabbi Hier would be making a loud statement in defiance of prejudice and hate. He has the opportunity to proclaim to the world what his institution stands for."

Samuel Rodriguez

(Facebook/Rev. Samuel Rodriguez)Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is the first Hispanic pastor to pray at a presidential inauguration

Rodriguez, along with Cardinal Dolan, is one of the more surprising entries to the list.

Born to Puerto Rican parents, he is the President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and an ordained minister in the pentecostal Assemblies of God denomination.

He is the first Hispanic leader to pray at a presidential inauguration.

Unlike Graham and White, Rodriguez was not afraid to publicly criticise Trump during his campaign.

"I'm actually very opposed to his [Trump's] rhetoric on most issues," he said. "At the top of the list, his rhetoric on immigrants, on immigration, is unacceptable.".

Rodriguez agreed to pray at the inauguration after "prayerful deliberation and discussion", he told NPR, and decided he could not miss the chance to pray on "the quintessential political platform on the planet".

Rodriguez hopes through engaging with Trump, he can shift his attitude towards Hispanic voters, 30 per cent of whom voted for the Republican.

"There was a bit of angst due to the fact that throughout the course of this campaign, the rhetoric and tone, as it pertained particularly to the immigrant community, did not line up with the ethos or the values of the NHCLC," he said, adding he had heard a "change of tone" in recent weeks.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

ReutersArchbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, said he would have been just as honoured to pray for Hillary Clinton.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan is the most prominent Catholic leader in the US, the Archbishop of New York.

In a statement after his invitation he said: "I am honoured to have been asked to offer a reading from Scripture at the upcoming presidential inauguration, and look forward to asking Almighty God to inspire and guide our new President and to continue to bless our great Nation."

He told critics he would have been just as honoured had Hillary Clinton won and invited him.

"We pastors and religious leaders are in the sacred enterprise of prayer. People ask us to pray with them and for them. That doesn't mean we're for them or against them," he told Catholic News Service.

"That's our sacred responsibility."

The arch-conservative and fellow New Yorker has met Trump twice before and has, like Rodriguez, not been afraid to criticise his attitude towards immigrants.

"I am not in the business of telling people what candidates they should support or who deserves their vote," he wrote in the Washington Post. "But as a Catholic, I take seriously the Bible's teaching that we are to welcome the stranger, one of the most frequently mentioned moral imperatives in both the Old and New Testament."

Dolan will read from Wisdom chapter 9, a text in the Catholic Bible where Solomon asks for wisdom to lead Israel according to God's will.

Bishop Wayne T Jackson

ReutersWayne T Jackson runs Great Faith Ministries in Detroit.

As leader of Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, Jackson played a key role in Trump's campaign by giving him a rare audience in front of a black church.

The African-American pastor, like White, has been accused of being a prosperity gospel preacher. He lives in a multimillion dollar mansion in Detroit and drives luxury cars. His invitation to pray is seen as Trump returning the favour.

After facing criticism for his endorsement of Trump, Jackson said the billionaire's wealth was a sign God had blessed him.

"Donald Trump is an example of someone who has been blessed by God," said Jackson. "Look at his homes, businesses, his wife and his jet. You don't get those things unless you have the favour of God."

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