Thoughts, Prayers, Mixed Feelings | Sojourners

Thoughts, Prayers, Mixed Feelings

People of faith react to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis

As news spread that Donald and Melania Trump have contracted COVID-19, thoughts, prayers, and tweets have started pouring in from across the U.S. Democratic presidential  nominee Joe Biden tweeted this morning that he and his wife Jill are continuing to “pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

Sojourners acting president Rev. Adam Russell Taylor tweeted out a prayer and a call-to-action:

“My first prayer today is for the health and quick recovery of the President, First Lady and other WH staff. My second is that this can serve as a wake up call to our nation that we can't downplay this pandemic! Please, love your neighbor by wearing a mask and socially distance!”

At the first presidential debate earlier this week, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump to comment on his past questioning of the effectiveness of masks. The president responded, “I wear a mask, when needed — when needed, I wear masks. I don't — I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from me, and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen.”

As of this morning, there have been 7,213,419 recorded cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and 206,402 Americans have died from the virus.

“Please don't spend all day policing everyone’s feelings on the Trumps contracting Covid," Robert Monson tweeted. "There is a range and the Bible is full of emotions Yall. While I personally am not celebrating I get the wide feelings.”

Pastor and author Lenny Duncan questioned the necessity to pray for Trump tweeting, “This dude is trying to burn y’all’s republic down and progressive Christians really out here proof texting trying to get me to pray for his health? white supremacy is a hell of a drug. Y’all wouldn’t know salvation or liberation if it landed in your lap.”

Christina Edmonson, an educator, anti-racism advocate, and co-host of the podcast Truth's Table,  also spoke to the ambivalent feelings many Christians are feeling, tweeting: “When we pray for those who are enemies, abusers, and tyrants to us and our neighbors we don’t have to like it. Praying for our enemies helps us to hold their humanity in our minds and offer them the grace we need as well. Putting them squarely before God and what God wants.”

Beth Moore struck a more neutral tone: “Reached for my phone early this morning to see if it was time to get up and saw the news about President Trump and First Lady Melania testing positive for COVID," she tweeted. "Immediately went to my face in prayer. This is not partisan. This is Christian. God, help us in these difficult days.”

Gary Bauer, a Trump-appointed commissioner at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, also prayed for God’s mercy and healing adding that, “This President has done more to protect the sanctity of life and protect religious liberty than any President in our history.”

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, who founded the anti-Trumpism email newsletter The Resistance Prays, evoked Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies, writing, “Love does not mean giving evildoers a free pass but rather that we ourselves do not become like them and deny all people dignity … Let us pray for Donald and Melania Trump: a prayer of healing for their bodies and hearts to move them towards compassion and justice.”

People of faith from many different backgrounds also offered wisdom and prayers, including Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg who tweeted:

“There’s a story in the Talmud in which Rabbi Meir is targeted by bad guys & starts praying for their death. His brilliant scholar wife Bruria teaches him not to pray that sinners will disappear, but that sins will disappear—that is, that they will stop causing harm.”

"May Trump emerge humbled and wiser, more empathetic and caring, apologetic and attentive to science, facts, and the pain and suffering of fellow Americans who are enduring a pandemic,  recession and systemtic racism," tweeted Wajahat Ali, a New York Times contributing op-ed writer and Muslim Pakistani-American. "He won't. He'll be the same. But inshallah...maybe..."

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated that Robert Monson shared his tweet in anticipation of a wide array of theological responses. We should not have assumed his motives for his tweet. We apologize for the error.

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