- Social Web
4. Opening Rallies With Prayer
(Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)
George W. Bush started cabinet meetings with prayer and encouraged the formation of Bible study groups at the White House, but President Obama has gone a big step further in embracing religion by opening many of his public events with prayers that have been commissioned and vetted by administration aides. The prayers, which have kicked off at least a half dozen of the president's outside-the-beltway rallies, are written and read by local community members who've been selected by the White House. Interviews with former White House aides and official presidential archivists going back to the Carter administration turn up no evidence of similar programs. "If a similar thing had been done by President Bush's White House, I guarantee you there would have been a lot of people crying foul," says Bill Wichterman, President Bush's liaison to religious groups. The White House declined to comment about the program, other than to say that such prayers have been standard since Obama began his presidential campaign.