After Vice President Al Gore's concession to Texas Gov. George W. Bush ina live TV broadcast last night, evangelist Billy Graham urged people tocontinue praying, and to follow the "gracious example of reconciliation"Gore and Bush modeled in their addresses to the nation.
Graham said that he had followed the election contest the last few weekswith "growing concern about the division among the people of our country.This division of the spirit of our nation can only be healed by prayer andrepentance toward God, followed by reconciliation with those of differingperspectives -- extending the love that only He can give."
Graham said that he was encouraged that democracy had prevailed as thecountry had negotiated a difficult impasse. The time had come to put asidethe strong rhetoric that could only divide people and unite for a greatergood. "During these historic days let us renew our prayers that God willbring healing to our nation and a clear vision of His will for the future.Let us pray especially that we may turn afresh to God, seeking His help andacknowledging our dependence on Him."
Graham's call was echoed by Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter'sHouse church in Dallas, who said that the country had come through anexceptionally close election, but could now move forward together, stronger.Under "extremely difficult circumstances," both Bush and Gore had displayed"admirable strength and tenacity to stand firm for what they deeply believe.I applaud them and the American people for their unwavering commitment tothe democratic process, and for their reasoned concern for the collectivewell-being of our nation."
Jakes said he was confident the president-elect would "prayerfully lead adiverse people in a positive direction." He asked "fellow clergy and allAmericans to join me as we cover our president and other leaders in prayer.Let all of us lay our political differences aside, put the process behindus, and direct our energies and emotions toward standing as a united peopleunder President-elect Bush's leadership."
The forthcoming 43rd president appealed for prayer for himself, VicePresident Gore and "this great nation" in his speech in Austin, Texas, lastnight. As the work of "healing our nation" began, he urged "respect for eachother, respect for our differences, generosity of spirit and a willingnessto work hard and work together to solve any problem." The president-electsaid he has faith that "with God's help we as a nation will move forwardtogether, as one nation, indivisible...I was not elected to serve one party,but to serve one nation."
In a concession speech that was widely applauded by politicalcommentators, Gore said that the election had been extraordinary, but "inone of God's unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point usall to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind usthat we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny." He saidthat for him the campaign ended as it had begun, with the love of hisfamily, and "with faith in God and in the country I have been so proud toserve."