(RNS) They are friends and friendly critics, political outsiders and usual suspects; among them, the first clergywoman, the first Hispanic evangelical Christian, and the first prosperity gospel preachers to speak at a presidential inauguration.
And though Trump himself identifies as a Presbyterian, there’s nary a mainline Protestant Christian in sight.
They are the six clergy members President-elect Donald Trump has invited to offer prayers and Scripture readings at his swearing-in on Friday (Jan. 20) in Washington, D.C.
That’s many more clergy than have participated in past presidential inaugurations, which have averaged two to three preachers.
The numbers also allow Trump to cover many bases. Even the critics among them have something in common with the president-elect, be it a theology that supports wealth, shared political views or even just geography.
Here’s a look at the six clergy members who will participate in Trump’s inauguration and what their inclusion says about the incoming president.
Pastor Paula White
Of the clergy picked to participate in the presidential inauguration, the choice of televangelist Paula White has received the most pushback.
And it’s not because of her politics, which sparked the outcry that led Pastor Louie Giglio to withdraw from President Barack Obama’s second inaugural — over a past sermon opposing gay rights.
It’s because of her theology, including an embrace of the so-called prosperity gospel, which is dismissed as heresy by many traditional Christians.
The prosperity gospel teaches God will reward the faithful with wealth, health and happiness, but White has offered an interpretation of it that may sit better with many Christians, in that she has defined prosperity not “in terms of money or material objects.”
“A prosperous life is a life that is fruitful physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” she wrote in her 2007 book “You’re All That!: Understand God’s Design for Your Life.”
White is pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla., and chairwoman of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. She also is the president-elect’s longtime spiritual adviser and an early supporter of his bid for the presidency. And she prayed at the Republican National Convention.
She reportedly will give the invocation on Inauguration Day, making her only the second woman to pray at a presidential inauguration and the first clergywoman. She has said she will “ask God to guide our leaders with wisdom and strength and that He would richly bless our extraordinary home, the United States of America.”