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story.lead_photo.caption Dr. Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is shown in this 2016 file photo. ( NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo / Ben Goff)

WASHINGTON -- Cross Church Pastor Ronnie Floyd prayed for President Donald Trump in the Oval Office this week, asking for God's blessing as a large group of evangelicals surrounded the president and bowed their heads.

Many of the ministers laid their hands on Trump's shoulders during the invocation. A few steps away, Vice President Mike Pence closed his eyes and listened as the Northwest Arkansas minister spoke.

Monday's meeting wasn't listed on the president's public calendar. Word spread after a participant posted photos of it on social media.

The faith leaders had been invited to the White House to discuss religious freedom and other matters with a representative of the office of public liaison, officials said. They weren't told ahead of time that they'd be ushered into the heart of the West Wing.

The vice president was the one who summoned them, Floyd said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "He came over and stated that the president ... wanted to say hello to us."

The president made his guests feel welcome, the former Southern Baptist Convention president said.

"He'd just gotten back from his trip overseas," Floyd said. "His spirits [were] good, very hopeful."

The White House said the visit was a last-minute addition to Trump's schedule and was unrelated to any recent political developments.

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"The president learned that they were visiting and invited them to the Oval Office where he greeted them warmly. It was an impromptu meeting, not planned," a White House spokesman said. "As an advocate for religious liberty, President Trump has a strong relationship with many in the faith-based communities."

Trump, a Presbyterian, heavily wooed Christian conservatives in 2016. He received four-fifths of the white evangelical vote, exit polls showed.

Floyd did not endorse a presidential candidate but joined Trump's faith advisory board during the 2016 campaign.*

The church he leads has locations in Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville.

Televangelist Paula White, a friend of the president, suggested Monday's prayer, and Floyd was asked to give it.

The pastor said he wasn't expecting to be called upon but was glad to oblige.

"I prayed for protection for the president and the vice president because we live in a very difficult day in our country. I prayed for God to lead them and for them to rely on the Lord for strength and for wisdom," he said.

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It's a prayer he's given, in one form or another, countless times.

"I prayed every day for President [Barack] Obama and his family, and I have faithfully done that through the years."

Monday's prayer was special, however.

"I'd never been in the Oval Office and, obviously, it was unexpected," he said. The room "reeks with history, your mind races to all the great decisions of our nation, all of the incredible challenges of every president that's ever held the office."

Now that he's back in Arkansas, he'll continue praying for the nation's leaders, regardless of party affiliation, he said.

"This is not about who's right and who's wrong, who's Republican, who's Democratic or who's independent. There's none of that in Scripture. The Scripture says to pray for the leaders of our country. ... Those of us who know God and know Christ personally, we need to do that."

A Section on 07/13/2017

*CORRECTION: Cross Church Pastor Ronnie Floyd Floyd never endorsed a presidential candidate in the 2016 campaign. His endorsement stance was incorrect in a previous version of this article.

Print Headline: Arkansas pastor Floyd leads prayer for Trump in Oval Office


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Archived Comments

  • RobertBolt
    July 13, 2017 at 5:56 a.m.

    If gods existed, lightning would have struck.

  • 23cal
    July 13, 2017 at 6:31 a.m.

    They might want to try upping their game to a burnt sacrifice, considering how big a chore they are undertaking.
    The people who think Trump is a Christian are the same ones who think Obama is a Muslim.

  • RBear
    July 13, 2017 at 6:52 a.m.

    Trump may claim to be a Presbyterian, but he has yet to prove to me he follows the theology of the Presbyterians. The fact these preachers were at the White House to discuss "religious freedom" is troubling. Jefferson and Madison would be rolling over in their graves at the ideas these folks espouse. We have strayed so far from the founders ideas on religion and freedom, it's more about how they can get their tentacles into people's lives and "govern them to God."

  • 23cal
    July 13, 2017 at 6:57 a.m.

    Trump likes the laying on of hands, especially when he lays on hands and grabs them by the p****.

  • mrcharles
    July 13, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.

    as to the man that lead the break away deity system to conform with biblical slavery [ I guess you could add biblical fornication] who seems mostly to worrry about either muslim hordes or gays , or is it the devil in the details of everything?.... he reminds me of a young man walking through the barnyard, seems like every step you take there is a pile to step in, anyway with his Holiness Floyd and the father of Don Jr, they are so big they are easier to spot to avoid stepping in. Of course this is meant all in the spirit of all due respect for their treatment of their positions .

    With all the hatred by the right for Obama, did the gop ILKS up there say his prayers for Obama were wasted as they consider nothing he did was correct or christian like , even when following some gop past positions .? Guess that proves finally intercessory prayer does not work as Obama sold weapons to the muslim brotherhood and trampled over all the gop venerated rituals and soothsaying's.

    Strong advocate of religious liberty. Made me spill my coffee. Hard to keep up with 30,000 sects of that son of Mary guy that Paul made into a religion contrary to what he was really trying to be and do. Shame on him.

    I personally know a man who worked in a radio station that he said he spoke to aliens [ before you gop types get out of wack, not human aliens but you know the aliens that live "up there in the sky" ... Guess either angels or aliens could report that they saw one another. My bet, they remain silent on that subject.

    boltar you did notice the guy up "there" didnt protect the Idol that Mr reed destroyed, yet the destruction may be proof of one of those early commandments, not dealing with child abuse or rape or do not use nukes, as they dont appear there.

    and the g-ds swarmed like fly's over the sacrifice!

  • HZT
    July 13, 2017 at 12:36 p.m.

    One of the few Arkansas people I am ashamed of! He gives Christianity a bad name - no Christian could have this guys beliefs. If he had lived in the age of Jesus he would have been a Pharisee at best. Or, he would have been one of the money changers chased by Jeasus from the Temple. Karma will pay a visit before long.

  • hurricane46
    July 13, 2017 at 12:44 p.m.

    What a joke, he, like Trump doesn't believe in the separation of church and state. He just keeps telling his flock of suckers how to vote. It's too bad he doesn't pay taxes on his big business he calls a "church".

  • WGT
    July 13, 2017 at 12:58 p.m.


  • 3WorldState1
    July 13, 2017 at 1:18 p.m.

    Kanye is proof God doesn't give two s&^&^ about this earthly world.

  • Castle
    July 13, 2017 at 1:21 p.m.

    A mega church pastor with plastic surgery and expensive suits......doesn't feel right.