Televangelist Mark Burns has come under fire after referring to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton "our enemy" and asking God to help Republicans "defeat the liberal Democratic Party" during his benediction prayer at the Republican National Convention.
In closing out the opening night of the four-day convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Burns, pastor of South Carolina's Harvest Praise & Worship Center, asserted, "Republicans, we got to be united, because our enemy is not other Republicans-but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party."
He continued: "Father God, in the name of Jesus, Lord we're so thankful for the life of Donald Trump. We're thankful that you are guiding him, that you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God."
Burns, who is also a proponent of the "prosperity gospel," went on to contend that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a person "who believes in the name of Jesus Christ" and asked that God would give him "the power and authority to be the next president" before urging the audience to join him in "shouting 'amen.'"
While the pastor's prayer brought the convention floor to its feet, it didn't sit well with others, as faith leaders have historically refused to use such blatantly partisan language in political convention settings.
Wrote The Federalist contributor Hans Fiene: "Yes, you should pray that God would protect us from all those who would do us genuine harm. Yes, you should pray that God would protect the life of Trump and everyone else in this world. Yes, you should pray that God would give Trump righteous words that will bring peace and comfort to all who hear them, especially if Trump is elected president."
He continued: "But don't presume to know the hidden will of God. Don't recklessly proclaim that God wills Trump's election in the way he wills the salvation of mankind simply because a Trump victory would tickle your political fancy."
Added Christian Post contributor Shane Vander Hart: "This is simply disturbing. This is a prime example of politics corrupting faith. Prayers should NEVER be partisan. Also, this claim that Trump believes in the name of Jesus ... What exactly does he mean by that? That he is saved? What fruit? What evidence? By Trump's own admission he has never asked God for forgiveness so how in the world could one claim he has repented of his sin?
Then to assume God is leading Donald Trump and speaking through Trump, as well as, to call Hillary Clinton our enemy. Pastor, our enemies are not made out of flesh and blood."
Meanwhile, Monday's opening prayer was conducted by televangelist Paula White, who opened with Isaiah 59, which states, "truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked" and said, "we too, have often turned our back on truth," and that we "choose a different path."
However, instead of endorsing any particular candidate, White prayed for peace, justice, hope and righteousness, and refrained from specifically referencing political rivals.