President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural committee revealed on Wednesday that six faith leaders will say prayers at Trump's and Vice President-elect Mike Pence's swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20. Among them are Rev. Franklin Graham, Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriquez, and Rev. Paula White.
Graham, president of the Samaritan's Purse and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, will offer readings and give the benediction along with Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, senior pastor of Great Faith Ministries International.
Since the elections ended, Graham has been vocal in supporting the incoming president. He was also one of the speakers at the final stop of the Republican Party's "Thank You Tour" in Alabama, where he led around 20,000 attendees in praying for Trump and the United States.
Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and White, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, will also offer readings and give the invocation. They will be joined by the Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan.
During the campaign period, Rodriguez, the leader of the world's largest Hispanic Christian organization, in a surprising move, came out to endorse Trump, while admitting, at the same time, that he had issues with some of Trump's statements, such the latter's derogatory remarks on Latino immigrants.
Meanwhile, the selection of White, along with Jackson, has been met with criticism as it is the first time that prosperity preachers will be gracing a presidential inauguration ceremony.
Back in 2007, White, who is a long-time friend of Trump, and five other ministers who spread prosperity gospel, had been the subject of investigation over their spending by the Senate Finance Committee, although the inquiry ended in 2011 with no conclusions.
Rice University religious studies professor Anthony Pinn described to the Associated Press the prosperity gospel "as a way to religiously rationalize material acquisition," while adding that participating in the presidential swearing-in ceremony will give the prosperity preachers a new kind of prominence.
Meanwhile, the inauguration committee may be after diversity in including prosperity preachers in the lineup. Presidential Inaugural Committee chairman Tom Barrack said in a statement, "I am pleased to announce that a diverse set of faith leaders will offer readings and prayers at the swearing-in of President-elect Trump and honor the vital role religious faith plays in our multicultural, vibrant nation."