The place of prayer at the inauguration

Jesuit Father Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington, writes that he favors having prayer at the presidential inauguration ceremony, but adds that “such prayers should be as inclusive as possible.”

You’ll find Father Reese’s reflection on whether prayers by clergy have a place in the inauguration ceremony in “On Faith,” a regular feature in Newsweek and The Washington Post. 

He notes that inaugurations did not start with a prayer until 1937.  Since then those offering the prayer have included Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Baptists. At President-elect Barack Obama’s inaguration Jan. 20, the Rev. Rick Warren of  Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., will give the invocation.

Among the many details about the inauguration ceremony is what Bible Obama will use, something CNS reported in late December. When he is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, he will take the oath of office with his hand placed on the same Bible Abraham Lincoln used at his 1861 inauguration.

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