Nothing is more offensive to the mainstream media than public prayer. Unless that prayer is offered by the President or a cabinet member – as was done regularly by a fellow named George Washington. But Trump is no Washington, and today’s media is not the Colonial Times of the 1700s. So what was it about the prayer that threw the media for a loop?
Trump called on HUD Secretary Ben Carson to lead the prayer shortly after Congress passed sweeping tax changes last week. The president encouraged the media to stay in the room for the prayer in typical Trumpian fashion. He told them, “You need the prayer more than I do.” Then, turning to Carson, Trump said, “Maybe a good solid prayer and they’ll be honest, Ben, is that possible?” he joked, pointing at reporters in the Cabinet room.
In his prayer, Carson thanked God “for a President and for cabinet members who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come behind us” and for “the unity in Congress” that brought about passage of the Republican tax reform legislation. He also thanked God for the current economic expansion “so we can fight the corrosive debt that has been destroying our future.”
That is where Carson seems to have crossed the line for many in the media.
It seems that while Mr. Carson was leading the prayer, not every member of the media was praying along. MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell commented on the “unusual nature” of Carson’s prayer. She said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in the Cabinet room, other than a White House prayer breakfast.”
White House correspondent Kristin Welker agreed. She said, “It was striking to see everyone bow their heads in that context.” USA Today senior politics reporter Heidi Przybyla piled on, adding her criticism of the tax bill itself.
For the media who finds a simple prayer in the Cabinet to be “unusual,” you wonder how they would have responded to Washington’s comment that “It shall be impossible to properly lead any government without prayer,” or Abe Lincoln’s view of Scripture, as “God’s divine light for leading his people.”
Perhaps a Muslim prayer would have been less offensive. Or better yet, no prayer at all.