President Obama recently noted the importance of prayer in his life, saying that he “prays all the time now.” He made the statement in an interview for Nightline.
President Obama says he starts his day with a devotional that the director of his Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiative, Pentecostal pastor Joshua DuBois, sends to his BlackBerry each day.
The Commander in Chief also said “I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate and I need guidance all the time.” Like his military subordinates, Obama enjoys the liberties of free exercise guaranteed by the Constitution, as well as the freedom to let his exercise be known.
To date, there have been no significant complaints that Obama’s statements about religion or prayer have unduly influenced or discriminated against his subordinates. (By contrast, some military officers were the subjects of complaints a few years ago for merely mentioning the biographical fact that they were Christians.)
A near firestorm was raised on Monday when Time‘s Amy Sullivan reported (and a variety of sources repeated) that the Obama family had decided that Camp David’s Evergreen Chapel would be its “home church.” The White House staff contradicted the Time article, saying that the Obamas are still looking for a “church home.” The Time contributor is “standing by” her story, saying that the fact that the Obamas are intending to attend the Chapel while at Camp David justifies her report.
More interesting, however, was the intense scrutiny given to the Chaplain currently associated with Camp David. Read more
President Obama recently spoke at the 2009 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast (though, interestingly, much ado was made of his failure to observe the traditional National Day of Prayer in May). The event was conducted by Esperanza, billed as “the largest Hispanic faith-based Evangelical network in the United States.”
Of particular note, Obama said Read more
Much ado has been made of the GQ article which includes a slide show of government Top Secret briefing coversheets. The pages contain pictures of the military and Biblical quotes. (Ironically, the topic was a short lead-in to a completely different subject, which has been largely ignored.)
While interesting, the issue is a non-story. Read more
Updated: Obama’s proclamation can be read here. Text below the fold.
This year’s National Day of Prayer is Thursday, 7 May 2009. As discussed every year at about this time, the President proclaims a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday in May in accordance with Public Law 100-307 (history).
Much ado was made of President Obama’s failure thus far to make the proclamation, in addition to questions that circulated over whether he would continue the tradition of hosting an observance at the White House. (Former proclamations by President Bush, which normally preceded the day by several weeks, have been removed from the White House website.) It has now been reported that Obama will make the proclamation, as required by law, but not host a White House observance of the day.
Last year Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation threatened to add military associations with the National Day of Prayer task force (a private group) to his DoD lawsuit, though he never followed through on his threat. Read more
Amid the controversy over Presidential addresses at university graduations, the White House announced with far less fanfare the commencement schedule of the Vice President. Biden will deliver the graduation address at civilian colleges, as well as the US Air Force Academy on May 27th.
Though Notre Dame has captured the media attention, the White House previously announced President Obama will also speak at the US Naval Academy on May 22nd. Traditionally, the President rotates among the military academies for a graduation address each year.
Several news sites have reported on the results of a Gallup Poll that indicates the media may have generated a perception of “controversy” where none existed.
The poll indicated that, contrary to recent news stories, less than 10% of Americans disapproved of Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren for his inaugural invocation. In fact, even among liberals and Democrats, Warren’s approval was far higher than his disapproval. By far the greatest number of respondents replied that they “didn’t know enough to say.” This led Gallup to conclude that
News media accounts of negative reactions…reflect…vocal positions of interest groups [rather] than an opinion…shared by the majority of the American public.
Ironically, Warren himself said in December that he believed the media was responsible for “the demonization of differences” that is polarizing and destructive to America:
The media often fans controversy and conflict to create a story and we start yelling at each other so much, nobody listens to each other anymore.
In short, the news media limited its reporting to vocal activists, because outside of those groups, there wasn’t a story. Some might say the on-again, off-again coverage of the military-religious “controversy” bears similar hallmarks.
Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC, 3rd District) has introduced a bill that would
ensure that every military chaplain has the prerogative to close a prayer outside of a religious service according to the dictates of the chaplain’s own conscience.
Similar legislation failed previously, though it caused negotiations that ultimately resulted in the rescinsion of military “guidelines” that had restricted the content of Chaplains’ prayers.
Mitch Lewis, an Army Methodist Chaplain, wrote an interesting commentary in November 2007 (and recently revisited) on this very subject, presenting a reasoned view that prayers at military ceremonies Read more