There have been fewer than 60 US presidential inaugurations in history, and for all of the drama and money swirling around this one, the 58th, the program for the official ceremony is about as traditional as it gets.
After the United States Marine Band concludes its rendition of “The President’s Own,” there will be a call to order, readings and invocations, musical selections, two oaths of office, and one very scrutinized inaugural address.
Here’s the full lineup, based on the program (pdf) provided by the US Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
As chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Inaugural, Blunt gets the honors of issuing the call to order and offering a welcome to the proceedings. It’s not a bad perch for a junior senator who has only been at the Senate since 2011, though Blunt, who also is vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, isn’t a terribly new face in Congress. He also has served seven terms in the US House of Representatives. And he supported his party’s presidential nominee until the end.
You might remember that July 2015 op-ed in the New York Daily News, headlined ”Nativism rears its big-haired head: Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is a sad return to a terrible American tradition.” That was Cardinal Dolan, who wrote that “as a Catholic, I take seriously the Bible’s teaching that we are to welcome the stranger, one of the most frequently mentioned moral imperatives in both the Old and New Testament.”
Dolan also takes seriously the opportunity under Trump and a Republican-led Congress to push through his church’s pro-life agenda. In a column for Catholic News Service following Trump’s election, the cardinal wrote that after eight years under a president who was an ally to abortion-rights advocates, Trump’s rise “offers the pro-life movement some cautious optimism.”
At the inauguration, he is expected to offer a prayer from the Book of Wisdom, a section of the Old Testament. (It is typically not found in Protestant versions of the Bible.)
As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a pastor in Sacramento, California, Rodriguez condemned Trump’s rhetoric on Hispanics and on Muslims, but has now set the rancor aside. He was quoted by Fox News as saying, “As a pastor, I know that faith holds our nation together and I count participating in the Inauguration of our nation’s 45th president as not just a patriotic honor, but as a sacred duty.”
According to his NHCLC bio, he regularly meets with members of both major parties in Washington on social justice and Latino issues, and served on president Barack Obama’s White House Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families.
This controversial televangelist from the New Destiny Christian Center has reportedly been Trump’s “spiritual advisor” for more than a decade. White told NBC News that they met after Trump called her out of the blue 15 years ago after seeing her on television. In 2011, she was invited to help him pray over his decision about whether or not to run in the 2012 presidential election.
Her ministry was the subject of a three-year-long Congressional inquiry over its fundraising practices. No IRS violations were found and no penalties were administered. But as NBC noted at the time, Iowa senator Chuck Grassley’s report on the case raised fresh “questions about the personal use of church-owned airplanes, luxury homes and credit cards by pastors and their families, and expresses concern about the lack of oversight of finances by boards often packed with the televangelists’ relatives and friends.”
Following a musical selection from the Missouri State University Chorale, US Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas will administer the oath of office to Trump running mate Mike Pence. Thomas, who was appointed to the federal bench by US president Ronald Reagan and nominated to the nation’s highest court by US president George H.W. Bush, will be the first black justice ever to swear in a vice president.
Don’t tell Mitt Romney, but the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be performing as a prelude to the main event: the swearing-in of Donald J. Trump as the United States’ 45th president and his inaugural address. The oath will be administered by US Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts.
Will taking the oath of office prompt the former reality television star and late-night tweeter to change his caustic, shoot-from-the-hip ways? Don’t bet on it—but if he won’t change, the world just might, by becoming inured to the schtick. At least, that was the prevailing view of the who’s who in business and politics in Davos this week.
Now come the readings and benedictions, starting with rabbi Marvin Hier. Hier is the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The human rights center, named for the famed Nazi hunter, has opened Museums of Tolerance in Los Angeles and Jerusalem.
Vocal on issues like the global rise of anti-semitism and neo-Nazism, Hier had a famous dialogue after 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall with Germany’s then-chancellor Helmut Kohl, discussing Jewish concerns about German reunification. He also has won two Academy Awards, as co-producer of The Long Way Home and co-producer and co-writer of Genocide, through his work with Moriah Films, the Wiesenthal Center’s documentary film division.
Hier’s acceptance of the inaugural invitation caused a stir among Jews who are anxious about the incoming administration’s ties to the virulently anti-semitic alt-right. But Hier told Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “Imagine the reaction of the American public if it became known that a presidential committee sent this kind of invitation, and the rabbi refused. That would create ill will. So for me, it wasn’t even a question. And yes, I pray that he will be a great president.”
Graham’s father, the famed American evangelist Billy Graham, prayed at eight US presidential inaugurations. His son, who runs the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse humanitarian aid group, also has some inaugural experience, having offered the invocation at George W. Bush’s 2001 ceremony.
After the 2016 election, Franklin Graham took to Facebook to credit god and faith for the Trump-Pence victory, writing that Christians “went to the polls, and God showed up.” He added, “While the media scratches their heads and tries to understand how this happened, I believe God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control of our country.”
When Trump went to Detroit to campaign last year, he joined Jackson and his Great Faith Ministries International congregation for a church service and a speech, where he said he “fully understand[s] that the African-American community has suffered from discrimination and there are many wrongs that should be made right,” and promised that his economic plans “will be so good for Detroit.”
Jackson is a lifelong Democrat, but in an interview with a local public broadcaster in Michigan said he would gladly serve as a spiritual advisor to Trump if asked to take on such a role. “We’re told by scripture to pray for our presidents and those in authority, so it would be an honor,” he said.
Perhaps no performer signed onto the full weekend of inaugural festivities has garnered as much notice as Evancho, who got her first taste of fame in 2010 as an 11-year-old contestant on the fifth season of America’s Got Talent. The singer, now 16, has been the target of internet hate for agreeing to perform at Trump’s ceremony. But she, or her handlers, are taking control of the attention. Lately she’s been doing a lot of press with her transgender sister to talk about their lives and their pro-LGBTQ beliefs. Plus, the newfound fame is already helping her concert ticket sales.