I'm watching the inauguration of the 45th president and am stunned2 that three Christian3 clergy persons pray for the president and the country, obviously in order to give the incoming president the Christian god's blessing. They explicitly ask that god to instill the necessary wisdom in him.
While I don't have a problem with wisdom or general spirituality, I am astonished that the Christian god is invoked explicitly, and that the U.S. are explicitly labeled a gift from that Christian god.
I have a couple of questions:
- Is this customary?
- How does this align with a secular government? Isn't it one?1
- How does this go down with members of other faiths or atheists? How can a Muslim or Jew feel that the U.S. are his or her country after such prayers at the inauguration?
1 I'm aware that there is some ongoing debate about the separation of church and state in the U.S. But the examples I read about concern mere folklorist elements like statues, crosses on buildings, and possibly a school prayer. There is also the customary "so help me god" in the oath, which one could attribute to the Christian tradition which the U.S. have without doubt. But to have such prayers initiate the presidential inauguration is a different quality, I think.
2 This public display of religion appears probably more alien to me as a European than to the average U.S. American.
3 After I had written the original question, more prayers or religious speeches happened, and one of them was by a Rabbi.