Speaking at President Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, North Carolina-based evangelist Franklin Graham said his prayer was that God would bless the new president, his family, his administration “and may He bless America.”
But Graham began with an ad lib: “Mr. President, in the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing. And it started to rain, Mr. President, when you came to the platform (for his inaugural speech).”
Graham, who heads the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was one of six clergy members – five of them Christian – who offered prayers or read from Scripture during the inauguration for Trump, who is Presbyterian.
Graham chose to read a passage from Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, chapter 2, which calls for prayers for all people, including “kings and for all those in authority, that we may live peacefully quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Graham, who also leads Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity in Boone, also invoked the name of Jesus several times Friday, as did some of the other clergy.
Besides Graham, the other other clergy giving prayers or readings Friday were: Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles;, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International in Detroit; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Sacramento, Calif.; and Pastor and televangelist Paula White of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla.
Hier was the first rabbi from Orthodox Judaism to participate in a presidential inauguration, and Rodriguez was the first Hispanic evangelical leader.
Graham’s last participated at a presidential inaguration in 2001, when then-President George W. Bush was sworn in for his first term.
Graham’s famous father, Charlotte-born evangelist Billy Graham, now 98, gave prayers at the presidential inaugurations of Richard Nixon (in 1969), George H.W. Bush (in 1989) and Bill Clinton (in 1993 and 1997).
Among the other Carolinians who got choice seats at the Trump inauguration Friday:
▪ Former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who grew up in Salisbury and represented North Carolina in the U.S. Senate from 2003 to 2009. She attended with her husband, former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who was the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 1996.
▪ South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was nominated by Trump to be the next United Nations ambassador.
▪ U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., of Indian Land, S.C. He’s another Trump nominee, to be director of the federal Office of Management and Budget.