Evangelist Franklin Graham held a special prayer day yesterday for President Donald Trump. In a Facebook posting, Graham said he was motivated to act because “President Trump’s enemies continue to try everything to destroy him, his family, and the presidency. In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. I believe the only hope for him, and this nation, is God.”
One of the great things about America is that we’re free to pray for whomever or whatever we want – or to not pray at all. We have that right thanks to religious freedom buttressed by the separation of church and state. No true advocate of religious freedom would question Graham’s right to pray for Trump or anyone else.
However, I do question his use of the word “enemies” to describe those who oppose Trump and his policies. Graham would undoubtedly include Americans United in that camp. After all, we’re currently sponsoring seven lawsuits against the Trump administration. (Our most recent one, filed last week, takes aim at the administration’s appalling “Denial of Care Rule.”)
Rather than perceive ourselves as “enemies” of Trump or of the Religious Right, we at Americans United see it differently: We are defenders of an important constitutional principle – one that Trump, in cahoots with his legion of Religious Right sycophants, is trying to trash. AU is standing up for that principle with all we’ve got, and we have no intention of backing down. If that leads Graham to perceive us as an “enemy,” so be it. Labels like that will only spur us to work harder.
Trump stopped in an evangelical church in McLean, Va., yesterday for a few minutes before running off to play golf. The congregation prayed for him, but be assured that they weren’t the only ones praying. All across America, in other houses of worship, people marked the start of Pride Month by praying for the members of the LGBTQ community whose rights Trump has steadily eroded. They prayed for the women in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana and other states whose reproductive rights are under assault. They prayed for the Muslims Trump has sought to demonize and bar from America. They prayed for the return of an America based on decency, civility and the rule of law instead of bombast, invective and division. And Americans who don’t pray because they’re not religious resolved to stand alongside those downtrodden and vulnerable members of our communities who are so often the targets of this administration’s reckless agenda.
Graham may have hopes that his prayer day will make all of the opponents of the president’s misguided policies go away. Again, he is absolutely free to pray for that, but you don’t have to be a theologian to realize it’s not going to happen.
Americans United and other defenders of church-state separation are here to stay – and we’re going to keep fighting. Graham had better get used to it.
P.S. If you’re not a member, now would be a great time to join Americans United.
(Photo: Screenshot from CBN.)