EAST LANSING, Mich.—First Lady Melania Trump’s recital of the Lord’s Prayer at a presidential rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Feb. 18, raised questions as to whether it was religiously considerate.
Denise Waytes, director of Liturgy at St. John’s Catholic Church, said, “Well, I know that they do have somebody open Congress with a prayer but I would think that they…would ask different people like rabbis and people who aren’t Catholic, or Catholic chaplains to say a prayer. And I think those people who don’t believe at all, what do they think of that, you know? But to specifically open it with a Christian prayer when you could just say a prayer from your heart and kind of make it generic if it’s going to be interfaith. So, we had an interfaith service last week at the Islamic center and most of the people that came there were from all different faiths.”
Pastor Sarah Midzalkowski, a Lutheran, said, “I’m from central Florida and I was down there and I saw parts of it, heard parts of it on the radio and also read some commentary from some people who were there.”
Midzalkowski also gave her opinion concerning Trump’s actions. She said, “I think the freedom of religion is core and bedrock of our foundational—for our country. That being said, so people have the freedom to pray in a public space, right? At public events? And that being said, the appropriateness of a prayer is something to think about. From all accounts—from what I heard—frankly it wasn’t so much the Lord’s Prayer that bugged me was that right afterwards it was followed by shouts of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A’. And to me, that’s antithetical to Christian values, you know. People who are Christians believe that—in my mind—people who are Christians do not believe that God blesses one country over another. Just because a majority of folks here are Christian, we don’t believe that we are somehow better than anybody else and there is a way to pray in public spaces if you are supposed to be the president and the first family of the entire United States—there’s a way to pray in public spaces that’s inclusive.”
MSU student Jaylyn Galloway said, “I would say that the Trump administration already has a lot of bad things against it so I feel like that helped to play into why so many people were critical over what she did. Let’s say that it had been Obama or something saying the Christian prayer, he wouldn’t have received as much hate against it. The family is already pretty much hated in America so you have to take that into consideration. To me personally, I don’t think it’s a problem. I think that it is a diverse country and even the president and his wife have that freedom of religion. They can practice and say whatever they want to based on their freedoms that are given to them by the amendments. But I also think that they have to be aware that as they have gained that presidential status and as first lady that a lot of people are going to be more critical on what they do from here on out—for the next four years.”