Barack Obama, the only president to acknowledge ‘non-believers’ during his inaugural address, is himself a very religious individual. He has spoken freely about the role Christianity has played in his life, began his first day in office with a prayer service and is currently taking the unprecedented step of opening nearly every presidential event with invocations.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that he’d be happy to hear about the Presidential Prayer Team, a group founded in 2000 that believes in the power of mass prayer and the Pauline direction to his disciple Timothy that followers pray for their leaders:

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

The roughly 500,000-member PPT was unsure how the end of George W. Bush’s presidency would affect the group, since his was the only presidency for which it had prayed. And so, the 25,000 members who left the organization were not much of a surprise. Much less expected was the 41,000 new members who joined after the election.

This jump in membership is a good reminder that people of faith fall on all ends of the political spectrum, but perhaps more significant are the people who pray for the president while disagreeing with his policies. It’s a great example of the way religion can bring this country together: though the participants’ specific sentiments and beliefs may differ, the broader goals are the same.

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  • Paul Maurice Martin

    I find it very encouraging that Obama acknowledged non-believers at his inaugural. First, it’s a reminder that separation of church and state is still how America operates and that there are no religious criteria for a citizen to be fully recognized as an American.

    Second, I wonder if Obama doesn’t share the conviction of many progressive Christians that the interfaith movement ought to definitely include and address non-believers. In my own work and writing I explicitly view atheists as being spiritual persons and present a paradigm in which faith, while associated with belief for many of us, isn’t necessarily so.

    Paul –

  • Buck

    Yo, that’s what’s up turthlfuly.

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