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Obama’s association with Wright didn’t merely complicate his political campaign. It caused a permanent rift in his relationship with the pastor. Wright, the same man who had performed Barack and Michelle’s wedding ceremony, was unceremoniously removed from Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee; in May 2008, the would-be President announced that he and his wife had withdrawn their membership from Trinity United Church of Christ, stating “Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views.”

Obama became deeply private about his faith. According to DuBois, who ultimately became the head of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Executive Office of the President, Obama and his family attended various churches around Washington, DC, while he was in office, but never joined one. This lack of regular church attendance, and his Democratic policies on abortion and gay marriage, led some to question whether in fact he was actually a Christian.

The administration chose not to address rumors about the President’s faith. “We figured we had more pressing issues to deal with,” Dubois said. But according to Dubois, Obama’s faith was evident within the White House. While on the campaign trail, he had become close to the Obamas on a personal level. One day, DuBois said the Lord tugged on his heart one morning to send Obama a devotional based on Psalm 23.

“I had never sent an email to his personal Blackberry before. Quite frankly, I thought I was going to get fired for it,” DuBois said. “Instead, he called me and said he had really needed that and asked if I could I send him a devotional every morning.”

DuBois continued to email daily devotionals. He also facilitated prayer meetings for Obama on a regular basis, even hosting a prayer call each year on the President’s birthday with Obama’s closest Christian clergy friends.

Trump’s Media-Concious Advisors

Image: White House Press

Rarely has a spiritual advisor to the president been more scrutinized than in the case of President Donald Trump. While many pastors have shied away from the limelight and chose to work solely on a personal level with the presidents they served, Trump seems to have relationships with public figures who are well-established in the public eye.

Paula White, senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, met Trump when he called her on the phone after seeing her television ministry broadcast and says she has been praying for him ever since.

“God brought me into Mr. Trump’s life 15 years ago to tell him who God was, to pray over him, to share the Word,” she said.

White has continued to counsel and pray for him over the years, including going to New York each week to pray for him during his transition from president-elect to president. On January 20, 2017, she stood on the steps of the Capitol to once again lift Trump up in prayer as he was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

“First and foremost, I believe my greatest assignment is praying for him, praying for his family, and praying for everyone in the administration,” she said.

Franklin Graham also joined Trump’s team of religious advisers and was chosen to read Scripture at the inauguration. He said he has known the President for 11 years. Like White, he made the acquaintance when Trump picked up the phone to call and show support for Graham after seeing him interviewed on a television news show. He has subsequently become an ardent supporter of Trump, whom he considers “not a politician, but a businessman.”

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The Precarious Task of Praying with Presidents in a Media Age