Make the last question count

Obama-Prayer-Calendar2009What would you ask President Obama if you got an interview with him this week? ABC News’ Terry Moran sat down with the President yesterday to discuss his health care reform effort. It’s not the longest interview, but most of the questions deal with the political debate surrounding health care. Then, at the end, it shifts to Afghanistan for a couple of questions. Finally, we get this:

MORAN: Last question.

As you know there’s a lot of curiosity about you and what you do, what you wear, all these things. And where you worship. If I may ask, how has — how have the responsibilities of the presidency affected your spiritual life, if at all?

OBAMA: Well, I had a habit of praying every night before I go to bed. I pray all the time now (laughter).

Because I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate and I need guidance all the time. We haven’t selected a permanent church home in D.C. I mentioned earlier that with all the transitions for the girls, but also, still trying to figure out how to move this big apparatus called the presidency without being hugely disruptive to congregations. How do we time that, how do we think about that? That’s something we’re still sorting out.

You know, we’ve been attending church — there’s a little chapel up in Camp David when we go up there. There’s a wonderful young pastor up there — chaplain — who does just wonderful work. And the Camp David families attend.

And I get — this is one use of my BlackBerry. My Faith and Neighborhood Initiatives Director Joshua DuBois, he has a devotional that he sends to me on my BlackBerry each day. That’s how I start my morning. You know, he’s got a passage, scripture, in some cases quotes from other faiths to reflect on.

But, look, you know, when you’re in this job I think that every president whose had it is constantly humbled by the degree to which there are a lot of issues out there and the notion that one person alone can solve all these problems I think you’re cured of that illusion very quickly. This is something where you just hope that you are aligning your work with His purposes and that you’re attuned to the needs of the people you’re there to serve.

I know that Moran was happy with this portion of the interview because it’s how he pitched it on his Twitter feed:

Here’s my interview w/ Pres. Obama–check out the last Q&A about his prayer life: http://bit.ly/swcKV

It’s commendable that Moran is interested in Obama’s spiritual life and that he asked the question in an open-ended enough manner that gave Obama room to answer. It wasn’t a ‘gotcha’ question about whether Obama had picked a church yet and it didn’t seem designed to get any particular answer. It was also a nice way to end an interview that began with a bit more contention — Moran was really trying to nail Obama down on an answer or two. It was a civil question without being too puffy, in my view.

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  • Jerry

    This is something where you just hope that you are aligning your work with His purposes

    I wonder how many will recognize that paraphrase of Lincoln’s famous quote about being on God’s side.

    More generally, I agree with your characterization of the question. Given the crazy ranting going on about President Obama by certain individuals in the media, I’m really happy to read a decent interview.

  • Navy dude

    There is a good Navy chaplain at Camp David, Carey Cash, author of the book A Table in the Presence, which details the spiritual life of a Marine battalian during the invasion of Iraq. I’m assuming that is the chaplain the President is referring to.

  • Carl

    Imagine the headline for Bush: INSANE CHRISTIAN PRESIDENT INSANELY PRAYING TO HIS CRAZY “GOD” ALL THE TIME!!!!

    At one point a

  • Carl

    Oops. Ahem,

    At one point a story similar to that circulated about Bush saying that he believed he was following God’s guidance in entering the Iraq War.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I have a rule against comments that purport to know what is in someone’s heart contra their stated confession of faith. So I deleted the last two comments.

    If you want to discuss Obama’s faith, take it over to the Cafe.

    http://groups.google.com/group/getreligion-coffeehouse


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