Obama gets more summer reading from religious leaders

Pete Souza/Official White House Photograph/Flickr
President Obama meets with (from left) Sen. Harry Reid; Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; LDS Church president Thomas Monson; and Elder Dallin Oaks in the Oval Office on Monday. During the meeting, they looked at a five-volume genealogy prepared by the church's Family History Committee.

Tucked into President Obama’s jam-packed schedule Monday sat this little item: “1:30PM, THE PRESIDENT meets with Senate Majority Leader Reid and Latter-Day Saints Church President Monson, Oval Office, Closed Press.”

And, as with his recent meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, Mr. Obama received some heavy-duty reading material to fill his spare time – in this case, five leather-bound volumes detailing his family history, according to published reports. We don’t think they included a copy of Obama’s birth certificate, which remains a hot topic among some of his fringe opponents. (If you don't know about this, Google "Obama birth certificate.")

Obama sounded pleased with the gift. After the meeting with both Mormon Church President Thomas Monson and Elder Dallin Oaks, the president issued the following statement:

"I enjoyed my meeting with President Monson and Elder Oaks. I'm grateful for the genealogical records that they brought with them and am looking forward to reading through the materials with my daughters. It's something our family will treasure for years to come."

It’s also doubtful that an awkward subject came up during the brief courtesy visit: the fact that Obama’s late mother, Ann Dunham, had been posthumously baptized into the Salt Lake City-based church in 2007. The church has said it is improper for a member to submit the name of a nonrelative for baptism.

The meeting was set up by Sen. Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, the Senate majority leader and the highest-ranking Mormon in the US government. Past presidents have also had meetings with Mormon leadership, and received detailed family histories.

Obama isn’t particularly popular with Mormons, who are predominantly Republican. A recent Gallup poll shows 45 percent job approval for Obama among Mormons. Obama also recently lured one of the church’s rising political stars – Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman – onto his team. The Mandarin Chinese-speaking Governor Huntsman has been tapped to become US ambassador to China.

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