Jen Hatmaker was “proud” to offer the final prayer in the liturgy for the inaugural interfaith prayer service Thursday hosted virtually by the Washington National Cathedral.
The popular Christian author, speaker and podcaster has also apologized for it — at least for the first line of the prayer, which began, “Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage.”
“He didn’t. He didn’t give us this land. We took this land by force and trauma,” Hatmaker wrote later on social media.
“It wasn’t an innocent divine transaction in which God bestowed an empty continent to colonizers. This is a shiny version of our actual history. If God gave this land to anyone, it was to the Native community who always lived here.”
Hatmaker apologized to Native Americans in the statement, posted on Instagram and Facebook.
She said in her post that the prayer was “written by the organizers to serve as an anchor.” It appears to be an updated version of the Prayer for our Country in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, which begins by addressing God as “Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage.”
The prayer wasn’t the only misstep regarding Native Americans that activists have pointed out during the week’s inaugural activities.
Some expressed disappointment Native Americans weren’t recognized Wednesday during President Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony. Mark Charles, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and former pastor and independent presidential candidate, offered his own acknowledgment on Twitter.
“Since no one on the Capitol steps has bothered to mention it, I will. #inaguration2021 of President #JoeBiden & Vice President #KamalaHarris is taking place on Piscataway lands. I acknowledge their continued presence on these lands and thank them for their stewardship of them,” Charles tweeted.
Others raised issues with “This Land Is Your Land,” one of three songs performed during the inauguration.
In place of the lyrics, “This land was made for you and me,” Potawatomi author Kaitlin Curtice, who’s a professing Christian, tweeted a suggestion: “This land was made… by Mother Earth, tended to by Indigenous peoples, and later stolen by settlers.”
However, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, who called the interfaith service “the epitome of liberal religion,” disagreed with the conclusion of Hatmaker and others.
He said the prayer Hatmaker offered was written to affirm the “basic doctrine of God’s providence”—a recognition that God has given the land to Americans who must now faithfully steward it.
Mohler further stated that Christians, “understanding the complexities of history and the sinfulness of human beings, understand that no nation’s history is spotless, no nation’s history is immaculate.”
While Native Americans weren’t prominently included in Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, they made appearances during the week’s inaugural activities.
President Jonathan Nez and first lady Phefelia Nez of the Navajo Nation offered prayers during Thursday’s prayer service.
The day before, the Parade of Nations featured the Native American Women Warriors Association; TikTok star Nathan “DoggFace” Apodaca, who is Northern Arapaho; a Hawaiian chant; and several traditional dancers, according to Indian Country Today.
Also, Biden’s nominee for interior secretary, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, who is Laguna Pueblo, was pictured at his swearing-in wearing a ribbon skirt, a symbol of womanhood in native American communities.