President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and Karen Pence continued a long inaugural tradition Saturday morning, attending a prayer service that was notable for the diversity of faith participants.
While most who led prayers and offered readings at the service at the Washington National Cathedral were overwhelmingly evangelical, the long list of participants also included leaders from the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Bahá'í faiths. The service opened with a Navajo blessing.
The inaugural prayer service is a tradition that began with President George Washington and was revived in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt, continuing ever since.
While Trump's team had reportedly asked there be no sermon — a break with past services — the Very Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, who's the dean of the Cathedral, was pointed in his prayer by asking God to "break down the walls that separate us."
On Friday in a pre-inaugural service at St. John's Church, First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress — a vocal supporter of Trump throughout his campaign — preached a sermon that compared Trump to Nehemiah, who had worked to rebuild the crumbling walls around Jerusalem, much like the border wall Trump has proposed.
"You see, God is not against building walls!" Jeffress said.
Many of the prayers at Saturday's service asked God to provide wisdom and protection for President Trump and the country. A rabbi recited a reading in Hebrew while an imam delivered a prayer in Arabic. Sajid Tarar, a Trump supporter who also prayed at the Republican National Convention, read from the Quran.
Trump has stirred up opposition among both faith groups. During the campaign, he proposed a ban on Muslims coming into the country and has talked about a need for surveillance at mosques in order to stop terrorism. And Trump's support among the so-called "alt-right" movement of white nationalists has alarmed many in the Jewish community.
Several of the songs were patriotic ones, including "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" and "America the Beautiful," and a choir from Liberty University, whose president Jerry Falwell Jr. was also a vocal Trump supporter, sang "We've Come This Far By Faith."
President Trump's children and their families were also in attendance, including Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, a new White House adviser to Trump. The couple and their children are Orthodox Jews.
Notable participants included Alveda King, an anti-abortion activist who is the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of evangelist Billy Graham whose father Franklin Graham prayed during the inauguration ceremony.
Below is the full list of participants this morning:
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