'Historic Move': Biden Inaugural Prayer Service Includes 2 Transgender Faith Leaders

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Updated Jan 22, 2021
'Historic Move': Biden Inaugural Prayer Service Includes 2 Transgender Faith Leaders

The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group is calling Thursday’s Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service the “most LGBTQ inclusive” inaugural prayer service in history for its inclusion of two transgender faith leaders and three other “trailblazing LGBTQ faith leaders.”

The service was hosted by the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., although much of the program was virtual. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris watched the service remotely from the White House.

Patti LaBelle and Josh Groban sang, and several well-known faith leaders, including Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry, spoke.

The Human Rights Campaign applauded the service for placing two transgender faith leaders on the program: Paula Stone Williams, pastor of the Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colo.; and Barbara Satin, faith work director for the National LGBTQ Task Force in Minneapolis. HRC called it a “historic move.”

Williams read Isaiah 58:6-12. Satin said a brief prayer for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.

HRC called it the “most LGBTQ inclusive inaugural prayer service in history.” The organization also applauded the program for including three other “trailblazing LGBTQ faith leaders”: Fred Davie, executive vice president of Union Theological Seminary in New York; Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries in Oakland, Calif., and; Sharon Kleinbaum, senior rabbi of the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that Biden’s “commitment to inclusion and mirroring the true image of America in the new administration shines through powerfully in this historic, LGBTQ inclusive, prayer service.”

“This service reflects a critical change in tone away from the cynical use of religion and faith as weapons of division against the LGBTQ community, and instead towards tools of service in the work of justice and inclusion,” David said. “Elevating the voices of LGBTQ faith leaders sends a strong message to the LGBTQ community – that we are integral parts of faith communities, and that our continued advocacy for equity is crucial for the work of healing the soul of America.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.