This Thursday will highlight another change that has happened to the White House since the arrival of President Obama. Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, a tradition in the United States since 1952. While the Bush Administration chose to mark the National Day of Prayer with public activities, FOXNews reports that President Obama has chosen to recognize the event with a written proclamation, instead. Though this isn’t the first time that President Obama has chosen to distance himself from outwardly religious activities where politics are concerned, changes to the National Day of Prayer activities of years past will stand out to Americans this year.
Examples of Obama’s Stance on Religion & Politics
This isn’t President Obama’s first break with tradition where religion and politics are concerned. The first occurred during his campaign, where Obama made a very public break from the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and its controversial pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. The break seemed necessary, after remarks by Wright drew criticism that turned towards then Presidential-hopeful Obama.
In addition, the Obama family has yet to find a church in Washington, DC, though they did attend Easter services at a local Episcopalian Church in the city. Their search for a religious home has been watched by news outlets and conservatives, who question President Obama’s ties to religion.
President Obama also drew stares when he publicly recognized those who do not believe in God or practice organized religion in his acceptance speeches during the inauguration. The comments, which drew him rave reviews among those who consider themselves atheists or agnostics, also seemed to increase the already growing distance between the president and conservative Christians in America.
The Growing Distance Between the White House & Organized Religion
With President Obama’s past behavior towards religion and prayer, as well as his family’s ongoing search for a church in Washington, DC, the White House’s actions on the National Day of Prayer may not gain much media attention. However, it stands to be viewed as another example of President Obama distancing himself from organized religion. While President Obama’s private recognition of the day has the potential to help his standing with liberals and those opposed to religious ties to the White House, it is just as likely to hurt him with conservatives and Christians, where he already struggles to gain approval.
Will the White House’s attitude towards the National Day of Prayer hurt or help President Obama and his approval rating? It remains to be seen. However, curious eyes remained turned towards the president to see what his next moves concerning religion and politics are.
FOXNews; Obama to Mark National Day of Prayer Privately; http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/05/obama-mark-national-day-prayer-privately/
Selma Times Journal; National Day of Prayer; http://www.selmatimesjournal.com/news/2009/may/06/national-day-prayer/
Chicago Sun-Times; Obama Attends Church, describes his faith amid false rumors; http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/699995,obamachurch121607.article
Trinity United Church of Christ; http://www.trinitychicago.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23