President Bill Clinton invited several leading evangelicals to join in inaugural festivities in January.
Evangelist Billy Graham gave the invocation at the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, the seventh time he has preached or prayed at inaugural events.
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president Don Argue became the first nae executive to participate in an inaugural event. In a preceremony service, Argue prayed specifically for Clinton, saying in his petition, "May his dependence be first upon you, may he find strength in you, knowing that he has been called to serve and not to be served." The event took place at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Willow Creek Community Church pastor Bill Hybels told those assembled that he has seen Clinton grow spiritually in the monthly private meetings they have held the past four years. "I celebrate the development of your heart, your increasing desire to know God and to live for him," Hybels told Clinton.
Eastern College sociologist and Baptist preacher Tony Campolo urged Clinton to resist the dark forces of racism, sexism, homophobia, and triumphal religiosity. Evangelist Luis Palau and Church of Christ Bishop Chandler Owens also offered prayers.
The interfaith, multiethnic service also featured readings from the Psalms, the Qur'an, and the Book of Revelation.
While the invited evangelical leaders for the most part lauded Clinton, not all evangelicals in Washington for the inaugural appeared so conciliatory.
The Christian Defense Coalition won a U.S. Court of Appeals battle with the National Park Service, which had tried to prevent 25 protesters from displaying four-foot-high posters of aborted fetuses along the inaugural parade route.
Coalition director Patrick ...1
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