MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. There’s a time and place for everything, the saying goes. Our national public servants would do well to remember the old saying.
Here’s WORLD Radio commentator Cal Thomas.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: I’m something of a unicorn in media circles these days. I readily give President Trump credit for his accomplishments, but I’m also not afraid to level criticism when it’s warranted.
Last week was one of President Trump’s best since taking office. He delivered a disciplined State of the Union address, the stock market set new record highs, Democrats descended into chaos in Iowa, and the Senate’s impeachment trial ended in the president’s acquittal.
But none of that should have mattered on Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast. For 68 years it has been a political oasis—a chance for Republicans, Democrats, national and world leaders to assemble for prayer.
I’m not just a casual observer. Since the 1970s I’ve been associated with the event and hosted a media dinner the night before the breakfast. It’s a unique and supposedly non-partisan gathering.
One could tell where things were headed when President Trump arrived later than most other presidents. When he did arrive, he held up two newspapers with the headline “Acquitted.”
The president then shook hands with only half of those at the head table, apparently because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was sitting on the other side of the podium. Yes, she had torn up his speech on TV only two nights before, but he could have used the opportunity to rise above her pettiness—not match it.
Arthur Brooks was the event’s keynote speaker. Brooks is the former head of the American Enterprise Institute, a Harvard professor, and columnist for The Washington Post. He used his time to speak of reconciliation and loving one’s enemies—the theme of his recent book.
When it was President Trump’s turn to speak, he said, “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you” and then went on a tear proving he didn’t. He criticized those who claim to pray for him and misuse their faith for political ends. He implied that “those in this room”—more than 3,000 in all—support him, and those who don’t are not genuine Christians.
Here’s the thing about reconciliation. It has a power that is the antithesis of political power, which in reality is no power at all. If the person who believes he has been wronged offers forgiveness, it can disarm the other person and lower the personal temperature.
Brooks’ comments reflected the teachings of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount he said—quote—“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45). End quote.
If last Thursday was the new Prayer Breakfast norm, perhaps it is time to suspend this annual event. Or perhaps organizers should consider an event without the president, if he can’t accept the nonpartisan theme that has been its tradition for nearly seven decades.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.