Obama prays at breakfast, launches White House office on faith
Barack Obama began Thursday with some Washington style prayer and later in the morning will sign an executive order forming the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.Skip to next paragraph
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This being Washington, praying is not, as Matthew 6 says, a matter of entering into a closet and praying in secret.
Enter into your ballroom...
It is entering into a hotel ballroom with an estimated 3,400 others from 182 countries at the National Prayer Breakfast. The gathering has been a Washington tradition on the first Thursday in February since 1953 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first chief executive to attend what was then called the Presidential Prayer Breakfast. The name was changed in 1970.
President Obama’s address at the breakfast ranged from the personal to the political. He talked about the forces that led him to become a Christian. And he described in detail what he hoped a refocused White House office focusing on faith would accomplish.
The Lord's Prayer in Cherokee
This year’s breakfast opened with the Lord’s Prayer being delivered in Cherokee by a Native American Chief dressed in a red robe. Then, at 7:57 a.m., a band struck up Hail to the Chief as the President and Mrs. Obama entered the ballroom. Vice President Joseph Biden was seated at the head table and Dr. Jill Biden was also on the guest list.
Two firsts marked the gathering at the Washington Hilton. It was Mr. Obama’s first visit to a national prayer breakfast and international breakfast guests were said to be particularly interested in meeting him. And dignitaries did come to the breakfast from around the world. It was announced, for example, that the presidents of Haiti and the Philippines and the prime ministers of Albania and Macedonia were in the crowd.
Join in -- for $5
And it was the first time the breakfast has been available on the Internet – although watching the session as it happened required paying a $5 fee to Eventbuilder.com. The President’s remarks at the gathering were carried live on the cable news channels.