Wednesday, 4 March 2009


Dan Gilgoff, who blogs God & Country for U.S. News and World Report, recently described the unprecedented Obama campaign and administration policy of having official invocations at his public rallies vetted by a White House aide.
At least so far as Gilgoff knows, they've all been approved. Small wonder, as evidently the clergy censor themselves before dialing DC to read their prayers to an aide.
During Obama's recent visit to Fort Myers, Fla., to promote his economic stimulus plan, a black Baptist preacher delivered a prayer that carefully avoided mentioning Jesus, lest he offend anyone in the audience.
In case self-censorship fails, the Obama administration has a little extra insurance, Gilgoff says, by
"... scheduling the invocations to be delivered before the president arrives at the events -- and before national cable network cameras start rolling.
Whoops! Remember, that didn't work so well at the big Lincoln Memorial concert during inaugural week.
Millions of fans of controversial New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson -- thrilled that the first openly gay bishop had been named to give the invocation -- were mystified, and mad, that his prayer was not broadcast by HBO, which had exclusive rights to the concert.
Indeed, it was delivered before Obama and his family entered and we bloggers all relied on Christianity Today's Sarah Pulliam who posted her YouTube video of Robinson's words.
Naturally, Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposes having anyone on the public payroll blessing -- or rejecting -- prayers, whether the president has arrived at the rally podium or is hovering nearby awaiting the amen.
Of course, if the invocations, however bland, are just for local consumption, not for us all, why do it? Or should the argument be that no prayers are wasted because an audience of One is always tuned in?