Clinton and Trump make jokes at the expense of themselves and each other at Al Smith Dinner
The question of which celebrities will — and won’t — perform at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 has sparked considerable speculation and criticism. Now, a less high-profile controversy has erupted after Trump’s inauguration committee announced the six religious officials who will pray at the ceremony.
Among the six, three voiced concerns or outright opposition to Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign, while the others were staunch supporters who have been subject to scrutiny of their own.
Pastor Paula White of New Destiny Christian Center and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International both have supported Trump throughout his campaign and are leaders of the controversial “prosperity gospel” movement that claims God shows his favor through financial prosperity, according to the Associated Press.
Pastors such as White and Jackson typically ask followers to send them “seed money,” which they promise will result in financial success, physical health and other positive outcomes. The practice has been criticized as many pastors use the money sent to them to live luxuriously.
White and other televangelists regularly make tens of millions of dollars, and she was investigated by the Senate in 2007 over accusations that she and others used the money on private jets, expensive cars and jewelry while taking advantage of tax laws put in place to benefit religious organizations. The investigation ended in 2010 without reaching any conclusions, per the Washington Post.
White’s inclusion also drew spirited opposition from some prominent Christian figures, who say some of her past statements seem to indicate she does not believe in the Holy Trinity, a key Christian doctrine that states Jesus is both the son of God and fully God himself, per the Orlando Sentinel.
Jackson, meanwhile, has drawn criticism in the past for living in one of Detroit’s largest mansions, according to the Detroit Free-Press. He was also slammed for hosting Trump at a service in August as Trump attempted to appeal to African-American voters.
Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the famous preacher Billy Graham, will also pray at the inauguration. Graham was a key part of Trump’s outreach to evangelical voters and defended him in the wake of the release of 2005 “Hollywood Access” recording in which Trump bragged about groping women, per The Hill. White evangelicals broke for Trump by a massive 65-point margin, per exit polls.
Among the three religious figures who criticized Trump but will now pray at his ceremony, Rabbi Marvin Hier has previously attacked Trump for his comments regarding Muslims. However, Hier has also said President Obama is “complicit” in one of the “Top Ten Worst Global 2016 Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Incidents” for failing to veto a United Nations resolution condemning the state of Israel for its settlements in the disputed West Bank, per Mic.
Hier also has something many of the “A-list” celebrities against whom Trump has lashed out after reports that they would not attend the inauguration: an Academy Award. In fact, Hier has two Oscars for his involvement in documentaries produced by his foundation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He’s also become something of a power player in Hollywood, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Christian pastor Samuel Rodriguez will also both take part in the swearing-in ceremony. Dolan penned a Washington Post op-ed during the campaign blasting Trump for his rhetoric on immigration, and Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference called his words “deplorable.”
Dolan also had the experience of trying to force Trump and his election rival Hillary Clinton to act civilly while at the Alfred E. Smith Dinner, a traditionally light-hearted comedic fundraiser that is a fixture in every presidential campaign.
“I am honored 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,” Dolan said in a statement Wednesday.
The six religious figures is the most in inauguration history since presidents-elect began inviting them in the 1980s, according to the Washington Post.