The Dobsons came to Washington yesterday and hosted a gathering on Capitol Hill for the National Day of Prayer, an annual observance that President Obama officially established by proclamation earlier this week. Organizers must have lost Obama’s address, though (pssst!–1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), because Adelle Banks from Religion News Service reported that they “invited former Sen. Elizabeth Dole to speak ‘on behalf of’ the executive branch, in lieu of a representative from the current administration.”
Okay, I understand that a lot of conservative evangelicals are not big Obama fans and are miffed that he doesn’t hold an official White House ceremony to mark the occasion. But really? Not one single member of the administration was considered a suitable participant? Not Hillary Clinton, who has talked about “prayer warriors” supporting her? Not Joe Biden, who we were reminded this week carries his rosary ring everywhere with him?
Maybe I’m reading this incorrectly and the Day of Prayer Task Force sent invitations far and wide throughout the administration, with no response. But it sounds like the National Day of Prayer–which hasn’t had much of a bipartisanship sheen for the past few decades anyway–is now officially a day of partisan prayer.
One national leader who was invited to speak at the event on Thursday was mega-church pastor Rick Warren. Ever since his support of the anti-gay marriage initiative Prop 8 in California several years ago and the controversy that surrounded Warren’s participation at the Obama Inauguration, the pastor has been strenuously insisting that he is apolitical and scolding those who suggest otherwise. “I have no aspirations to even influence public policy,” Warren declared at a Pew event in 2009.
But just a few hours after the National Day of Prayer gathering, Warren tweeted his support for HR 3, which the House passed on Thursday, and indicated displeasure with Obama’s opposition to the bill. “Congress finally passed (by a huge majority!) HR3 to end forcing taxpayers to fund abortion! But Obama says he veto.” [sic]
I know Warren likes to say that he doesn’t pay attention to the details of legislation (because he’s not political and doesn’t want to influence policy), so I should perhaps excuse him for mischaracterizing one of the many aspects of HR 3. As we’ve discussed before, taxpayers don’t fund abortion–Congress passes the Hyde Amendment every two years to make sure that they don’t. Among many things, HR 3 codifies the Hyde Amendment to make that prohibition permanent. But it’s not as if taxpayer dollars have been covering all sorts of abortion procedures and (finally!) Congress acted to put an end to it.
Best to stay away from such pesky details, though. You might risk running into the devil.