One of the religious leaders who will say a prayer at the Donald Trump Inauguration represents the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the organization, described in a press release as “the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, representing millions of Evangelicals worldwide.”
He will be joined by faith leaders from other religions, including a rabbi, Catholic archbishop and others when Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rodriguez Expressed ‘Deep Gratitude’ For Being Asked to Say the Prayer
After Rodriguez was selected, his organization sent out a press release announcing that he was going to give the prayer.
“It is with deep gratitude that I express my thanks to President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence for affording me the privilege of participating in their swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20,” Rodriguez said, according to the release.
“There is truly no greater honor than to serve one’s country in such a special way on such a momentous occasion.”
2. Rodriguez Has Called For Racial Unity & Says He Has the ‘Lamb’s Agenda
In the press release, Rodriguez continued: “I have enjoyed getting to know President-elect Trump and his team over many months.”
“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, for we will stand not only before men, but before God Almighty Himself to seek His blessing and guidance,” he said.
“Let us begin now to pray for our new president and his administration, and imagine together a bright future for our exceptional nation.”
According to PENews, Rodriguez met with Trump last June for “’a very healthy discussion’ of issues, including religious liberty and immigration.”
“We also talked about racial unity as it pertains to bringing the country together,” the site reported, adding that Rodriguez worked with Trump’s campaign to highlight those issues but did not outright endorse him.
When Trump chose surgeon Ben Carson to lead the Housing and Urban Development Department, Rodriguez called Carson “the 21st century version of Jack Kemp” and praised the selection.
When Trump won the presidency, Rodriguez wrote on Facebook, “Now that the presidential election is finally behind us, our nation must put partisan politics and divisive rhetoric behind us as well. Instead of the agenda of the donkey or the elephant, Christians must be about the Lamb’s agenda.”
3. The Organization Rodriguez Leads Is the Representative Voice For 40,000 Churches
The group spearheaded by Rodriguez is the umbrella organization for thousands of churches. Rodriguez previously delivered a keynote for a national Martin Luther King Jr. day service.
The press release said, “NHCLC/CONEL is the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, which serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. churches and hundreds of thousands of additional congregations spread worldwide throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora.”
The website of the group describes its mission as follows: “As the largest Latino Christian organization in America we lead millions of Hispanic Born Again Christ followers via our 40,118 Evangelical congregations by providing leadership, networking, fellowship, strategic partnerships and public policy advocacy platforms to our seven directives: Life, Family, Great Commission, Stewardship, Education, Youth and Justice.”
4. Rodriguez Is the First Latino Evangelical to Ever Say an Inaugural Prayer
On its Facebook page, Rodriguez’ organization says, “Congratulations to Rev. Samuel Rodriguez! Pastor Sam is the first Assemblies of God minister and the first Latino Evangelical in American history to participate in the Presidential Inaugural Swearing In Ceremony.”
Christianity Today reported that Rodriguez has advised Republicans and Democrats alike, and quoted him as saying, “Are there any politicians I will not work with? Wow. It would require an extreme sort of agenda coming out of a politician, or rhetoric coming out of a politician, that would prompt me somehow to say, ‘I can’t work with this person.’ Something that is so derogatory. Something that is anathema to who we are as Christians.”
5. Rodriguez Also Runs a Church in Sacramento & Was Involved in a Religious Service for Obama’s Inauguration Too
PeNews reported that Rodriguez “is senior pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento, California, and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.”
He is married to Eva, the site reported. The site added that Rodriguez also once “took part in the prayer service for President Barack Obama at St. John’s Episcopal Church, next to the White House, on inauguration morning.”