Since his inauguration, President Obama has begun making strides … often very small and fitful ones … away from being the nation’s evangelical-preacher-in-chief — a role his predecessor, George W. Bush, loved more than anything. Religionists are not happy about this, as one may expect. They’re going positively berserk, however, over Obama’s cancellation of a White House religious service on National Prayer Day, as reported by the Top of the Ticket blog at the Los Angeles Times (WebCite cached article):
On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (This event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held outside the White House gates every year on the first Thursday of February.)
President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year.
“Prayer is something that the president does every day,” explained White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. “I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family’s life, the role that prayer plays.”
As I said, folks have gone nuts over this. Outraged claims range from “Obama canceled National Prayer Day!” to “Obama is going to outlaw prayer!” to “Obama won’t let Christians pray that day, but he WILL be praying with his fellow MUSLIMS!” The sheer amount of dishonest sanctimony and outrage has forced the usual debunkers, such as Snopes (cached article), to have to post pages explaining that most of the claims are not true.
To be clear, Obama has not canceled National Prayer Day. He will still proclaim it! In fact, he’s defying a court decision stating it’s unconstitutional (cached article), and one may assume his administration will appeal that ruling. All Obama has done, is simply to cancel the religious service that the Younger Bush led annually.
Maybe next year, Obama will simply not observe or proclaim National Prayer Day at all … but I’m not hopeful. Obama still likes to make overtures to religiosity and religionists.
Photo credit: JMC Photos.Tags: barack obama, christian right, george w bush, national day of prayer, national prayer day, national prayer day service, obama, pray, prayer, prays, president, proclamation, religionism, religionist, religionists, religious right, urban legend, white house