President Donald Trump has attended the 2019 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, where speakers have addressed the level of division in the country.
The annual gathering brought together members of the president’s Cabinet and members of Congress, including Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Among those delivering readings was the Most Rev Michael Curry, who made headlines around the world with his stirring sermon about the power of love at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The speech came after President Trump this week offered a fierce denunciation of late-term abortions in his annual State of the Union address, as he moved to re-energise evangelical voters who have been among his most loyal supporters and who will be vital in heading off any possible 2020 primary challenge.
Gary Haugen, of the International Justice Mission, spoke about a “fracturing of the American family” and described a “weary spirit of discouragement” in the country.
“For our American family, I do sense that we are in a national moment of perilously mounting discouragement,” he said.
“Our tribal divisions, our institutional dysfunctions, our desperate winner-take-all contests of cultural resistance or survival, they seem to be pressing in our chests with a swelling anxiety of national disintegration.”
He pointed to issues including criminal justice reform and combating the opioids epidemic as areas in which the country could come together.
“Even in this divided era, there is good that we all agree should be done,” he said.
Guatemala’s ambassador to the US, Manuel Espina, offered prayers for President Trump, saying: “We pray that you’ll give him the wisdom and the knowledge to lead this country under your principles and guidance.”
And Dr Lance Plyler of the Samaritan’s Purse evangelical Christian organisation argued that, regardless of skin colour, language, religion or country of residence, “We are all equal in the eyes of God” and “all neighbours”.