Ashcroft says America is nation 'worth
- The Washington Times, Page A1 - by Larry Witham - January
20, 2001 - Photos (A, color),
- A) Interdenominational: Former Sen. John Ashcroft, the nominee
for attorney general, addresses a large interfaith gathering
- B) The Rev. Sun Myung Moon accepts an award during the inaugural
prayer luncheon yesterday. A surprise speaker at the event -
America Come Together - was John Ashcroft, nominee for attorney
general., Both By J.M. Eddins Jr./The Washington Times
John Ashcroft, the president-elect's nominee for U.S. attorney
general, dropped in on an overflowing interracial and interfaith
inaugural prayer luncheon yesterday and brought down the house
of 1,700 religious and political figures with a tale of amazing
"This is a country worth praying for," Mr. Ashcroft
said, and told how he was drawn the other day to the poignant
wail of a street musician's trumpet playing the notes of the
hymn "Amazing Grace."
"He stopped in midnote," Mr. Ashcroft said, "and
put out his hand with a cry, 'Senator Ashcroft, I'm for you,
As he walked down the street on his way to his office, Mr.
Ashcroft said, he heard the trumpeter's notes of another hymn,
"Love Lifted Me."
"I'm sure not going to forget 'Love Lifted Me,'"
said Mr. Ashcroft, who had just completed four days of contentious
hearings on his nomination, in which he had been roughly questioned
by Senate Democrats about his views on racism, abortion and homosexual
When he stepped from the platform, in the ballroom of the
Hyatt at the foot of Capitol Hill, he was embraced by a swarm
of well-wishers, many of them black clergymen.
The prayer event, "America Come Together," was one
of the largest and most diverse inaugural religious gatherings
of clergy and lawmakers in memory.
Amidst a three-hour program of prayers by Christian preachers,
a rabbi, a Muslim imam and a Franciscan layman, Rep. Danny K.
Davis, an Illinois Democrat and member of the Congressional Black
Caucus, read a resolution that he and Rep. Philip M. Crane of
Illinois, a Republican, will introduce next week in Congress
calling on the nation to "dwell in unity and one accord."
"There ought to be more that unites us . . . than drives
us apart," said Mr. Davis.
The prayer luncheon was sponsored by The Washington Times
Foundation, a nonprofit educational group, which is separate
from the newspaper, and organized by a committee that included
Doug Wead, who worked in the first Bush White House, and the
Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church
and a former D.C. delegate to Congress.
Martin Luther King, evangelist Billy Graham, and the Rev.
Sun Myung Moon were honored by an ecumenical group of clergymen.
The Rev. Moon received an award for his work in support of traditional
The world's faiths arose to cultivate the human spirit, and
"that is why religions tell us to fast, to serve others,
to be sacrificial," said Rev. Moon, who described the family
as the school of peace and God's love.
"It is possible for humankind to receive a great blessing
through the rededication of marriage ceremony centered upon God's
ideal of family," he said.
Mr. Fauntroy introduced several men and women who were White
House liaisons to religious groups going back to the Ford administration,
two U.S. senators and 12 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Rev. James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist
Convention, gave the tribute to Mr. Graham who, if not for a
doctor's advice to rest, would today have prayed at his 10th
inaugural since 1953 with President Eisenhower. He is believed
to have preached to more people than any man in history. "In
the life of Billy Graham, there has not been one hint of scandal,"
Mr. Merritt said.
Mr. Wead, who had been religion liaison in the Bush administration
from 1989 to 1993, also introduced what he called "seven
of the top 10 television evangelists in America today."
They included Paul Crouch, founder of the Trinity Broadcasting
Network, and Kenneth Copeland, both of whom made brief remarks.
"We are here, in a larger sense, to honor an office, an
office God has used to bless our nation and virtually every nation
on Earth," said Mr. Crouch, speaking of the presidency.
Rabbi David Ben-Ami, chairman of the American Forum for Jewish-Christian
Cooperation, spoke of the common Jewish and Christian heritage.
"The Torah is my and your holy Scriptures," he said,
reading from the Old Testament on God, nations and leadership.
"This noon, this is my congregation."
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, chancellor of Liberty University in
Lynchburg, Va., brought greetings from the Rev. Jesse Jackson,
with whom he spoke late Thursday about his acknowledgment of
a 20-month-old daughter he had fathered with an aide in the Washington
office of his Rainbow-PUSH Coalition.
"He asks your prayers," said Mr. Falwell. "He
apologizes, he takes responsibility and makes no excuses, points
no fingers at anyone else, and that's all a man can do. It's
not a time to put our foot on the neck of anyone who is down."
His remarks were greeted with scattered "amens" and
emphatic assertions of "that's right."
Many of the religious figures spoke of the size and ecumenical
nature of the prayer luncheon. "There's always something
like this at a church," said the Rev. Robert Maddox, who
worked in the Carter administration. "It's a gargantuan
thing to bring off, and this is bigger than usual."
The Rev. Jack Hayford, who will give the benediction at the
54th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral
tomorrow, looked over yesterday's event and said it represented
a new mood of interreligious and interracial cooperation. "This
is something that's been a process in the past five years,"
Mr. Hayford said in an interview. He cited the Southern Baptist
apology for slavery in 1995, the Promise Keepers' apologies to
women for abuse by men, and the interracial reconciliation summits
of Pentecostals, of which he was a leader as pastor of the Church
on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif.
Hundreds of the participants also were in Washington for the
American Leadership Conference (ALC), which holds inspirational
and training events for clergy and state legislators. Dr. William
Anderson, a Howard University graduate who brought his wife and
daughter to the ALC event and inaugural, said that some of the
old civil rights rhetoric must give way to constructive proposals.
"I brought my daughter here to show her it's not the color
of your skin, but the content of your character," said Dr.
Anderson, a Baptist deacon whose wife, Janette, is Roman Catholic.
The Rev. Robert Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral
in Garden Grove, Calif., and host of the popular "Hour of
Power" telecast, marveled at the "myriad" of different
religious groups praying in the same room and complimented each
for its own "spiritual pilgrimage."
"Many of you had reason not to accept this invitation
because of, 'Who else will be there?' " Mr. Schuller said.
"And yet there is an overriding unity. And the only way
I can explain it in my theology is the Holy Spirit [and that]
Jesus Christ has really diversified His investment portfolio."
Singer Pat Boone, a member of the evangelical denomination
Churches of Christ, noted the "wonderful feeling" at
the prayer event, encompassing Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus,
which overflowed into adjoining smaller ballrooms. "We love
you, we cherish you, we respect you," said Mr. Boone. He
also sang. Other performers included singer John Michael Talbot,
a Franciscan with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, and trumpeter
A few political matters were touched on besides the standing
ovation for Mr. Ashcroft, who did not mention the confirmation
The Bush campaign's chief domestic policy adviser, Stephen
Goldsmith, a Jewish leader and former mayor of Indianapolis,
said the new Republican administration wants to give religious
ministries more freedom to solve social problems. "All of
us here want the government to no longer be hostile" to
religious groups, said Mr. Goldsmith. "This is an administration
that will clear out the regulation problems, clear out the legal
Imam Hassan Qazwini, director of the Islamic Center of America,
said that "all praise is due to Allah" and urged prayers
for "children in Palestine," or the West Bank, and
Iraq, against which the United States continues its economic
In introducing Rev. Moon, Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of
The Washington Times, paid tribute to the Rev. and Mrs. Moon,
whom he described as "old friends" and to Rev. Moon's
vision of a secular newspaper in the nation's capital to cover
the world, and promised that "armed with editorial independence
and that vision, we will always be faithful to the values that
bind God's children together."
Religious leaders pray for healing
by Adelle M. Banks Religion News
- Chattanooga Times / Chattanooga Free Press - January 20,
2001, SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A7 WASHINGTON -- In a show of unity
after the divisive presidential election, about 1,700 religious,
political and community leaders gathered Friday for an Inaugural
Prayer Luncheon for Unity and Renewal on the eve of President-elect
George W. Bush's inauguration.
Billed as an event to bring together leaders across denominational,
racial and partisan lines, it nevertheless prominently featured
conservative Christian leaders -- from five past presidents of
the Southern Baptist Convention to religious broadcasters Paul
Crouch, Jerry Falwell and Robert Schuller.
The event's primary sponsor was The Washington Times Foundation.
The new president did not attend.
I believe God Almighty will lead George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
and all of their team into the nation's finest hour, said the
Rev. Kenneth Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort
The Rev. Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship
in Dallas, opened the event with a prayer noting the division
over Bush's election. We come, Lord, with a lot of healing that
needs to be done, he prayed.
Doug Wead, co-chairman of the event -- whose theme was America
Come Together-- said its goal for unity was reflected in the
attendance, which filled one hotel ballroom and overflowed into
two other rooms.
Many of us in this room are soaring with hope because of the
response of leaders of every religion who were contacted about
this event, said Wead, who served as a special assistant to Bush's
father, President George H.W. Bush.
Interspersed between prayers and praise for the Bush administration
were tributes for celebrated religious leaders, include the late
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and evangelist Billy Graham, who
was unable to attend this year's inaugural events for health
Southern Baptist Convention President James Merritt honored
Graham as a man of integrity, and the Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy,
a Washington pastor and former U.S. congressman, recalled King's
message that either we learn to live together as brothers and
sisters on this planet or we will perish together as fools.
Falwell called for prayers for another well-known religious
leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who days before acknowledged
fathering an out-of-wedlock daughter. It certainly is not the
time to put our foot on the neck of anyone, Falwell said, noting
he had called Jackson and prayed with him.
Over the course of the polished three-hour event, the intersection
of religion and politics took center stage.
Falwell urged Bush to outlaw so-called partial-birth abortion
and voiced his support for moving the U.S. embassy in Israel
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and combatting racial profiling. Imam
Hassan Qazwini, director of the Islamic Center of America in
Detroit, asked for Allah's blessings on Bush and added, Help
him to bring smiles to all suffering children of the world, especially
(in) Iraq and Palestine.
Stephen Goldsmith, the former Indianapolis mayor who has served
as a senior Bush adviser on faith-based initiatives, said of
the man who would soon be president: I think that the best thing
that America has to face is a person who is about to become president
who truly believes in God and believes in the power of God to
make the lives of people better.
Not long after Falwell condemned some members of the U.S.
Senate for religious profiling in the hearing for Attorney General-designate
John Ashcroft, the former senator took to the stage himself and
thanked the audience members for their kindness to me and your
prayers for me.
The audience, which included ambassadors and advisers to past
U.S. presidents, was treated to music that ranged from the Vienna
Strings to recording artist Vicki Winans. Between prayers, they
dined on salad, chicken and a white-chocolate dessert in the
shape of the U.S. Capitol.
This has been organized largely by Christian people, but those
of you who are not Christians ... we love you, we cherish you,
we respect you, said Christian entertainer Pat Boone.
In closing remarks, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the
Unification Church and the founder of The Washington Times, asked
for prayers that Bush would gain the respect of all Americans
and the people the world over.
Diverse faith groups at prayer lunch
- by TOBIN BECK
- United Press International - January 20, 2001, WASHINGTON,
Jan. 20 - People representing many conservative Christian denominations
but also a spectrum of religious and ethnic groups gathered for
an Inaugural prayer luncheon Friday, hearing speakers ranging
from Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft to the Revs. Robert
Schuller, Jerry Falwell and Sun Myung Moon call for people of
faith to work together.
Ashcroft, grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee during
confirmation hearings this week, told the gathering of some 1,700
people that the last few weeks there have been some things said
that weren't too encouraging.
He went on to tell a story of walking in downtown Washington
after getting off the Metro subway and hearing the strains of
the hymn Amazing Grace. He said he saw a man sitting on a milk
crate, wearing an old high school band jacket, playing the hymn
on a trumpet. Ashcroft said he was walking past when the man
put down the trumpet.
The fellow said, 'I just want to thank you for what you stand
for and I wanted to wish you well,' Ashcroft said. He said he
started to walk away and then heard the trumpet playing the hymn,
Love Lifted Me.
I thought to myself, sometimes we get inspiration and values
from places we least expect, he said.
The Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, former congressman and pastor
of New Bethel Baptist Church, was a master of ceremonies for
the event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Fauntroy, who worked with
the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement
of the 1960s and was District of Columbia coordinator for the
1963 March on Washington, quoted from King: We must all learn
to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Falwell told the group the new administration could go a long
way to bringing God's blessings by bringing about a ban on partial
birth abortions. He also called for moving the U.S. embassy in
Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and rebuked Senate Democrats
for their attempt at religious profiling of Ashcroft during the
Falwell also talked about the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who acknowledged
fathering a daughter outside his marriage. He said Jackson apologized
for the hurt he caused his loved ones, said he was supporting
the child, and asked for prayers. Falwell said it was a time
It's not a time to put our foot on the neck of anyone, he
Entertainer Pat Boone, who sang In America, told the group
that while the United States includes people of many faiths,
faith in God has made the country strong.
We are one nation under God, he said. He also said: To those
who are not Christian, whatever your faith is, we love you, we
cherish you, we respect you. And he went on to add: The Constitution
did not ordain freedom from religion, but open freedom of religion
Schuller complimented participants on attending even though
they might not agree with each other on theology.
This couldn't be a more mixed group ... and yet there is a
spirit of unity, he said.
Imam Hassan Qazwini, director of the Islamic Center of America,
based in Detroit, called on Allah to bring enlightenment in place
of prejudices and partisanship, and prayed that Allah would bring
smiles to the suffering children around the world -- especially
the children of Iraq and Palestine.
Qazwini also told the group that before the luncheon, people
seeing him in his Muslim clerical garb had assumed he was from
Iran and wished him well during his stay in the United States.
He said he responded: Actually, I'm from Michigan, where Muslims
comprise 4 percent of the population.
Stephen Goldsmith, senior adviser to President-elect George
W. Bush for Faith-Based Initiatives and former mayor of Indianapolis,
told the group about the desire for a government that is not
hostile to faith-based initiatives to improve people's lives.
He said the administration would work across religious and ethnic
lines ... to bring opportunities to those who prosperity has
Moon, a North Korean native who founded the Unification Church,
was introduced by Washington Times Editor in Chief Wes Pruden,
who praised Moon for his fight against communism despite imprisonment
and persecution, and for founding the Washington Times as a secular
I am determined that this newspaper will always be faithful
to the values that bind God's children together, Pruden said.
He said while the Cold War against communism had been won, we
now are on a battlefield just as dear -- for families.
Moon called for prayers that our new president lives up to
the challenges of this prestigious office and commands the respect
of all Americans and people the world over.
In a speech of about 15 minutes, Moon also spoke of the husband
and wife relationship as a cornerstone of families and God's
plan for overcoming the struggle between mind and body.
He said the various faiths emerged to cultivate the human
spirit, which he said is why religions tell us to fast, to serve
others, to be sacrificial.
Moon was presented an award by an ecumenical group of ministers
for his work on behalf of family values.
The luncheon was sponsored by the Washington Times Foundation.
The Washington Times is owned by News World Communications Inc.,
which also owns United Press International.