Pray in the Name?

Invoking Jesus' name at the 2001 presidential inauguration should not have been so controversial.

Excerpted from "The Name" by Franklin Graham with permission of Thomas Nelson Publishers

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There are factions of society today that hate God and everything that He stands for. But I did not expect such a vehement backlash [when I mentioned Jesus' name during the 2001 inauguration]. In America, where our currency declares "in God We Trust," it still surprised me that when a Christian minister does what he is ordained to do--read and quote from the Bible, share the truth of the Gospel, pray in the Name of Jesus--some people view those acts as borderline subversive!

In January of 2001, our nation was perhaps more divided politically than at any time I can remember. The controversy surrounding the presidential election vote count in Florida had polarized Americans. Even though most voters were pleased to see a change in the White House after eight turbulent years, according to pollsters, nearly 50 percent were disappointed and even convinced that Governor Bush and the Republicans had somehow manipulated the outcome. In hindsight, election officials and even the media concurred, after intense scrutiny and review, that this was not the case.

My father has had the honor of praying or participating in some way at eight presidential inaugurations, beginning with the ceremony for Lyndon Johnson in 1965. When it came time for Bill Clinton's second inauguration, my father was invited once again to offer an inaugural prayer. Because his health problems had flared, he asked me to accompany him to Washington, D.C.

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During that ceremony, I was seated at my father's right side on the inaugural platform. To my left sat all of the Supreme Court justices in their robes and caps. Behind was the Democratic and Republican leadership from both houses of Congress.

This spectacular event always involves much pomp and circumstance. The election battle is over. The time now comes for the government of this mighty land and its citizens to inaugurate a president.

I had been impressed to see members of the opposing political parties--in heated battle for the prize of the White House just two months before--now shaking hands and greeting each other warmly. Life for both the nation and individual would move on. Bill Clinton would continue to govern. Bob Dole would return to private life, make speeches, and enjoy other productive activities outside the Senate chamber. What a great nation and system of government.

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