The very first inaugural prayer was given in 1937, and until 1985, every prayer (except one, made in 1981) happened with clergy of several different faiths and/or denominations represented on the podium. Thus, the spirit of the Constitution was upheld, because no one faith was being promoted above another and, consequently, no single faith was being promoted by the state. The “American pastor” model began in 1989, and the next two inaugurations featured prayers that used very broad, inclusive language, referring to “God” generally. After that came the Protestant-only model, with a reference to the trinity in 1997 and an appeal to “Jesus Christ our savior” in 2001. Now, here we are in 2009, professing the full Lord’s Prayer in front of the entire world. Honestly, I am embarrassed for our country. We criticize other countries for having leaders who rule by their religious convictions, and then we start a new administration by allowing a pastor to give a longer speech than the new president. It doesn’t seem right.
For more news and information on the history of inauguration prayers, check out these articles: