Further to previous articles regarding the U.S. presidential elections, I reproduce hereunder the editorial from the Church of Ireland Gazette dated Friday 27th January 2017.
The U.S. Episcopal Service’s Mary Frances Schjonberg reported before last week’s inauguration of President Donald Trump that the involvement of Washington National Cathedral and its choir in an inauguration service has caused concern in parts of the Episcopal Church. She reported that, after news of the choir’s participation had prompted ‘a deluge of comments on social media as well as emails to official involved’, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Bishop of Washington Mariann Budde and Washington Cathedral’s Dean Randolph Hollerith all issued statements addressing those concerns. Bishop Curry said: ‘We recognise that this election has been contentious, and the Episcopal Church, like our nation, has expressed a diversity of views, some of which have been born in deep pain … When I pray for our leaders, why am I doing so? Should I pray for a leader I disagree with? When I pray, what do I think I am accomplishing? He said that the tradition of prayer meant that Episcopalians were praying that ‘their leadership will truly serve not partisan interests, but the common good’. Bishop Budde, while saying she was ‘alarmed’ by some of Mr. Trump’s words and actions, said the Episcopal churches ‘welcome all people into their houses of prayer’ and that this did not mean condoning ‘offensive speech or behaviour’, nor did it signal agreement with an intention to ‘legitimize’. The Bishop of
Washington also pointed out that ‘in time of national division, the Episcopal Church is called to be a place where those who disagree can gather for prayer and learning and to work for the good of all’. Dean Hollerith commented: ‘Our choir is singing at the inauguration to honour the peaceful transition of power that is the heart of our demographic government. Let me be clear: We do not pray or sing to bless a political ideology or partisan agenda, regardless of the man or woman taking that sacred oath of office. We sing to honour the nation.’ The unease over the inauguration of President Trump was palpable and provided a stark contrast with what would normally be expected – a moment of national goodwill as power transferred from one President to the next, as well as a moment of real hope for the future, as opposed to the widespread sense of foreboding and even fear against the background of unsavoury allegations, however much denied. The prayers of the people are thus all the more important as Businessman Trump become President Trump. Certainly, as far as this side of the Atlantic, and especially the United Kingdom is concerned, the new President’s clear intention to help with a post-Brexit trade agreement may be reassuring, even if it begs questions about precisely what the nature of any agreement would be, particularly in terms of product standards and employment condi2ons. The Financial Times reported last week the Mr. Trump had promised ‘the rapid launch and conclusion of a trade agreement with the UK to help the government of Theresa May make Brexit a ‘great success”. However, the newspaper also pointed out that, nonetheless, there were ‘hurdles’ facing such an agreement in terms of the new UK-EU
rela2onship, the length of time it actually does take to conclude trade agreements, and issues of financial and other regulations.
Donald Trump personifies what is recognised as a new ‘populism’, that is to say, an appeal to the mass of people couched in both simple and emotionally charged terms. While populism can give rise to extremes and therefore has its clear perils, at least one of the good things about democracy is that it allows the ordinary people to challenge a political elite. Nonetheless, populism is a danger in the democratic world and is one reason why checks and balances are written into democratic systems. Let us hope and pray that President Trump achieves good things for the American people and for the world, and that, as and when necessary, Washington’s checks and balances do their job.
With every blessing,
Rev’d John Tanner. Tel: 01-289 3154 / 086 302 1376