Inauguration Prayer #3: Rev. Joseph E. Lowery January 20, 2009

Inauguration Prayer #3: Rev. Joseph E. Lowery

As I said earlier, I’ll be making a donation to the Secular Coalition for America for every use of the words “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Lord,” and “God.” I’ll hope you’ll join me in doing that.

Yesterday, we heard Rev. Gene Robinson.

Today, we heard Rev. Rick Warren deliver the Inaugural Invocation.

Shortly afterwards, we heard Rev. Joseph Lowery deliver the Inaugural Benediction. The text is below and the Religious Word Count is below that.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

Audience: Amen!

Lowery: Say amen

Audience: Amen!

Lowery: And amen.

Audience: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

The Religious Word Count for the speech?

God 4
Lord 5
Jesus 0
Christ 0

And the Religious Word Count thus far?

God 12
Lord 7
Jesus 4
Christ 0

One more prayer is left for the final count: That of Sharon Watkins as part of the National Prayer Service. It’ll take place tomorrow. After that, I’ll give the final count.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • benjdm

    $115 already? SCA is going to love you, Hemant. 🙂

  • Andy

    You should cut Sharon Watkins a little slack. It’s a prayer service, after all; who is she supposed to pray to? As a religious person, President Obama should be allowed to celebrate his faith.

  • Are you going to count other references from the proceedings? Dianne Feinstein let out a “God Bless America,” and Obama referenced God three times during his address.

  • cdesign

    — and when white will embrace what is right.

    this comment did not belong and was a slap in the face to every white person who voted for obama.

    obama and lowery should apologize, not chuckle.


  • holly

    The only places I can find that Lowery prayer have “laughter” in quotes at the end of the prayer. It was offensive, not funny and the fact that they have to temper it with “laughter” shows you that just on its own merits, everyday Americans (not specific colors- lets get past that!) would be offended if they wouldn’t have put that the crowd laughed at those particular moments!

  • kristen

    “and when white will embrace what is right”

    This was not funny at all and was racists against whites. Obviously America is over the opression of blacks because if we were not, segragation would still be present and a black man would not be president. If a white person would have said something similar about blacks, the media would have been all over it and they would most likly have had to apologize. Color should not matter and should not have even been mentioned in this inaugural prayer. it is completly uncalled for. They should apologize, not laugh.

  • Lin

    –and when white will embrace what is right.

    After that racist comment, I hope every white person who voted for him now wish they hadn’t.

  • Oh, please. Like much of Dr Lowery’s benediction, that was a direct reference to a cultural poem/hymn/song – in this case, Big Bill Broonzy’s “Black, Brown, and White”. It was funny (and I’m white). And ps – nobody voted for Lowery.

    And if you think “America” is “over” racism, you’re lucky. My co-worker’s dentist remarked that Obama is president of 12% of the country. My brother ran into plenty of people hating the president because he’s black. It’s not over just because he won, any more than anti-Catholic sentiment vanished because we elected Kennedy.

  • Siamang

    This thread tells me that we still have a way to go in this country.

  • Thelma

    When will we get over it? We Blacks know that their is still hate and haters. However, With God as the President’s guide, things will work for better. The President uses wisdom in all of his decisions. Let’s embrace each other and become a bundle of sticks which will not be broken easily. We are headed to the mountain and no one will turn us back. We Blacks have been in the back of the bus long enough.

  • benjdm

    Sharon Watkins transcript is here:

    Searching and counting the relevant words:

    God – 11
    Lord – 0
    Jesus – 1
    Christ – 1

    That gives me an unofficial total of 36.

  • Rev Nate

    I am totally for all colors. I understand the context in which Lowery got his closing comments. However, I would have to agree if Warren had made a comment like that people would have been furious. There is a time and place for such. This was NOT the time. This was a time where we should have been focused on the fact that our country will not get out of this mess until we do love one another as Christ loves the world and died for it through His amazing and abundant grace.
    Just because there are those who are not over color, does not mean that the majority are not. I myself preached recently and have for all of my ministry that Christ died for the world, not just His favorite colors.

  • Maria

    for starters,racism is still a HUGE problem in this country. they had to make a special car just for Obama b/c of all the threats he’s gotten, mostly b/c of his race. secondly, the “white will embrace right” was not a big deal. thirdly, the speech rocked and was about inclusion, and instead of counting the words “god” in it we should be focusing on how inclusive it is and how historic this inaguration was. most of this country believes in some kind of god, as does the president, and that is how they are going to react. as long as they don’t disparage me or force it on me, I don’t care. Obama should be able to have that at his own inaguration.

  • mutedmajority

    Absolutely it’s a racist comment. And everyone that thinks these kind of comments are harmless little ditty’s has racist tendency’s as well. Obviously a lot of white people moved past the color issue because they voted a (half) black man into office. Sure there are racist out there. And at the moment the most vocal of them are black. Condemning asians and whites in the inaugural benediction is hands down the most racist thing I’ve ever witnessed. There are some racists out there who think they can say anything they feel like it against white people and it’s ok. Well, just because the media is silent doesn’t mean that it’s ok. And it doesn’t mean that people are ok with it. A LOT of people are offended. They’re thinking, gee thanks a lot. I voted Obama into office and this is the thanks I get. And it was white people who won him the election folks. White woman in states like Ohio and West Virginia to be exact. How do you think they feel when they are told they have been doing the wrong thing? They’ll start thinking that next time around, say in two years, they’ll do “the right thing” and vote republicans into office. Will you racists of color please get over your anger, and start to see people as people instead of endlessly breaking them into racial groups.

  • Wakeup

    Lowery perpetuates racism.
    What he said is offending to many.
    He should address the people whom he pointed and explain what “HE” meant. Why are some making excuses? Because they chuckled after he said it? No one is digging on the guy. He needs to be responsible and accountable for what he said. Isn’t that what Obama claims needs to start happening? Hope they do what is right. A simple apology goes a long way.

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