Pastor Franklin Graham had put out a public call for pastors across the country to devote Sunday morning to pray for Donald Trump — but the president will need to get a report of how it went.
Trump appeared to skip church on June 2 for his preferred Sunday morning ritual of hitting the golf course. White House pool reports noted that Trump arrived at the Trump National Golf Course in Sterling, Virginia, at 9:35 a.m. As HuffPost White House reporter S.V. Date noted on Twitter, Trump’s trip to the links came during the nationwide effort to pray for his presidency, and the timing of his trip would rule out any morning trip to services at the president’s preferred place of worship, St. John’s Church, in Washington, D.C.
Franklin Graham has garnered controversy for his fervent support of Donald Trump. The evangelical leader and son of famed religious leader Billy Graham has called Trump the “most Pro-Christian president of my lifetime,” despite the fact that Trump has shown little interest in church, to the point that the former pastor of his church said he never once saw Trump enter the building, per a post on Twitter.
Graham claimed that Trump was under attack and asked pastors to help God intervene and protect Trump.
“We’re on the edge of a precipice,” Graham said, via CNN. “Time is short. We need to pray for God to intervene. We need to ask God to protect, strengthen, encourage, and guide the President.”
Many religious leaders also spoke out against Graham’s call to pray for the president, with some saying it is inappropriate for a pastor to directly endorse a candidate, though Graham responded by saying it was a general call to pray for Trump rather than an endorsement.
But many blasted the “Pray for Trump” day as an attempt to push a narrative that Trump’s presidency is under attack from Democrats and rally support from white evangelicals, one of the most dedicated groups that actively support Trump.
“That’s a code verse,” said John Fea, author of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. “It sends a clear message to his followers that there is something at work here beyond politics. He’s saying that America is under spiritual attack and equating the attacks on Trump with that.”
Donald Trump’s penchant for golfing has drawn some controversy, as taxpayer costs have ballooned over $100 million for these trips throughout his presidency. Trump had frequently attacked Barack Obama for golfing but has now golfed at a rate more than double that of his predecessor.