Praying against their fellow Americans: Inauguration prayers from anti-LGBTQ activists

Inaugurations have historically included prayers from religious leaders whose prayers featured in the inauguration ceremony represent the ideology and often the agenda of the incoming president.

President Obama chose prayers who reflected the historically inclusive nature of his election. He invited openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson to offer a prayer at his 2009 inauguration, and in 2013 tapped Myrlie Evers-Willians, the first woman and layperson to deliver the invocation. The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, then Moderator of the LGBTQ community serving Metropolitcan Community Church, read scripture at the 2013 interfaith prayer breakfast. However, in an attempt to create space for diverse religious views, Obama also invited anti-LGBTQ pastor Rick Warren to offer the invocation in 2009. In 2013, Pastor Louie Giglio had originally been invited to offer a benediction, but later withdrew amid controversy regarding an anti-gay sermon he had delivered in the past. In his place, the Rev. Dr. Luis León, an affirming Latino Episcopal, offered the benediction.

Donald Trump’s inauguration has given an elevated platform to a number of high profile anti-LGBTQ extremists. Two in particular, have previously earned profiles on GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project for their inflammatory and extremist statements. While they are not the only anti-LGBTQ faith leaders included, Samuel Rodriguez and Franklin Graham, are perhaps the most worthy of alarm for LGBTQ people.

Franklin Graham has long used the name and mantle of his father, famed evangelist Billy Graham, as a blunt force object for political gain and the persecution of LGBTQ people. From the Commentator Accountability Project:

-- Claims Satan is behind LGBTQ rights and advocacy: "This is a full-scale assault against Christianity and the followers of Christ. When prayer is banned from the public square, when our President fails to defend biblically defined marriage, and he openly and zealously advocates for gay rights; when legislators rush to overrule existing laws to promote gay marriage; when schools and courts consistently suppress religious freedoms; we know we are locked in a war against the Christian faith, not culture. The architect behind this offensive is none other than Satan himself. The Scripture says that the devil, our archenemy, is bent on as much destruction as possible."

-- Insists that same-sex couples cannot have families: "[Marriage for same-sex couples] takes the family away and there is no way you can have a family with two females or two males, if you just think biologically how God made us our plumbing is completely different."

-- Supports Russia's draconian laws against "gay propaganda": "Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue—protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda—Russia’s standard is higher than our own? In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda. Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful. The world used to look to America for moral leadership. But those days are long gone."

-- Insists "there is no place for compromise" on marriage equality

-- Says that by allowing openly gay youth, the Boy Scouts supported "corrupt values": The Boy Scouts of America recently announced that they were reconsidering their long-standing policy against admitting homosexuals into their ranks. The Scouts have been under fire by liberal activists for years, and a reversal of their policy would demonstrate just how much pressure our politically correct culture has placed on institutions to conform to their corrupt values. This is an organization that has stood for moral integrity for over a century. The tide of immorality has risen to new heights."

-- Accuses gay people of "recruiting" children

Graham was also incredibly active during the presidential campaign last year, using his Twitter account to attack LGBTQ people and their allies:

Rodriguez is senior pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California, and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. According to the organization, he is the first Assemblies of God pastor to take part in a presidential swearing in. However, his previous claims demonstrates what animus he has for the LGBTQ community.

-- Equates "difficult" nature of marriage equality with Boston terror bombings (at 7:02): "We do live in difficult times. These are times with great uncertainty, angst.  The terror in Boston.  Fear.  Consternation flux. The attempt to redefine a God-ordained institution.  These are difficult times."

-- Lumps gays who seek equality with other "radicals;" calls on "devil stomping" Christians to reject all: “We have radical Muslims. Radical homosexuals. Radical abortionists. We need radical, born again, spirit filled Christians to arise. Do you follow me? We don’t need any sissy Christians, Oprah Winfrey Christians. We need prophetic, devil stomping, demon rebuking, blood washed, Bible believing, free-from-sin Christians.”

-- Vocal opponent of LGBTQ provisions in immigration reform; says protecting LGBT couples would be the "death knell" for reform

-- Claims: "The legalization of gay marriage in Iowa and Vermont should be seen as a declaration of war on traditional values."

-- Links his fight against marriage equality to fighting destructive behavior: "To the Latino family, traditional marriage represents the antidote to destructive social behavior such as drug activity, teenage pregnancy, gang involvement, high school dropout and many others"

Graham and Rodriguez represent two of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ voices who will be given an international platform, not for unity but for the active persecution of LGBTQ people, as well as other minorities. They will urge their fellow Americans to decelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community, and they will have the backing of not just a faulty theology, but the power of the president.

But Graham and Rodriguez are not alone. In addition, other anti-LGBTQ leaders are being given an international platform for the inauguration.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan will speak. Dolan has been for both his folksy speaking style, his easygoing rhetoric, and his rabid opposition to LGBTQ acceptance. He lashed out at the New York legislature, comparing marriage equality to oppressive regimes like China or North Korea. He wrote a letter to President Obama criticizing him for his decision to stop defending the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) against legal challenges. As president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan was a part of the early push for so-called “religious freedom” laws.

Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, pastor of Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, Michigan, joined a statement from the National Coalition of African-American Ministers to oppose marriage equality in 2004. Interestingly enough, Jackson has drawn criticism for a ritual performed during the ordination of his fellow bishops, which involves having them lay down, covering them with cloth and convulsing on top of them.

GLAAD has been tracking the words and actions of the incoming Trump Administration’s appointees, as well as those who may be in consideration to join his team, through the Trump Accountability Project. Take action and join GLAAD’s grassroots Rapid Response Team. Together, we can fight back and make a difference.