Apparently, "separation of church and state" does not reach to presidential appearances. Ryan Culp of Elkhart agreed to open President Obama's town halll meeting with a prayer, even though he's a conservative Republican. He even agreed to have the prayer "vetted" by White House officials to make sure there was nothing in it that would offend anyone. This seems to be standard for Obama -- both the prayers and the vetting:
During Obama's recent visit to Fort Myers, Fla., to promote his economic stimulus plan, a black Baptist preacher delivered a prayer that carefully avoided mentioning Jesus, lest he offend anyone in the audience. And at Obama's appearance last week near Phoenix to unveil his mortgage bailout plan, an administrator for the Tohono O'odham Nation delivered the prayer, taking the unusual step of writing it down so he could E-mail it to the White House for vetting. American Indian prayers are typically improvised.
There's a lot in this for conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, religionists and atheists to all talk about. Some are already playing the "bet they wouldn't have let Bush get away with this" victim card, and there seems to be some concern over the White House "entangling itself in core theological matters." But what strikes me, as it does for the "nonsectarian prayers" offered as a compromise in the Great Indiana House Prayer Debate, is how meaningless the prayers become. A prayer that is true to the religion of the person offering it is bound to be at least a little offensive to those of other faiths. These White House-approved prayers are certain to be bland and worthless. This is political, not religious.