After Easter, President Obama invited 80 Christian religious leaders to a breakfast at the White House. He has been inviting religious groups of all kinds to participate in such meetings. He finally got around to the Christians.
He has invited Muslims in to celebrate the holy month of Islam, Ramadan. George W. Bush began this tradition immediately after 9-11. He held eight of these Ramadan meetings. But, unlike Bush, Obama has religious meetings down in the way that a 1938 Chicago ward heeler had wakes and funerals down, and for the same reason: votes.
Christian leaders are suckers for this. They have been for over 50 years. Presidents who have no religious commitment except the Electoral College invite in the figureheads, who come like tamed lapdogs. “Oh, goodie, we’re having real influence for Jesus.”
These are people who loudly proclaim the separation of church and state. They say that they fear the state will pressure the church if the barrier ever is lowered. Yet these people think that an invitation to a photo opportunity at the White House has something to do with religion, other than the Electoral College.
These people are sometimes vocal opponents of ecumenism. So, what are they doing at an ecumenical meeting alongside a representative of the National Council of Churches?
These people are not hypocrites. They are merely nave sheep going to the White House to be sheared.
They do not think covenantally. They do not think at all. “I’ve got an invitation to the White House! Maybe I can get my picture taken with the President! Oh, boy!”
In other words, they are just like most of us.
Would I accept an invitation to the White House? Not until I had a phone conversation with the President, on the assumption that the line was tapped. I would want to find out what he wanted to talk about that he could not talk to me about over the phone. Otherwise, I would assume I was being invited to a communion service at the Church of the Electoral College.
If I went, I would keep my mouth tightly shut after the meeting. Billy Graham made the mistake of talking to reporters about his private meeting with Harry Truman in 1950, and Truman was rightfully incensed. Truman saw it as grandstanding, which it would have been, had Graham had enough sense to grandstand. He was just a preacher boy emeritus who was in way over his head. He later figured this out.
One more thing: I would make the White House pay for the plane fare and my hotel room. None of this “donate free time for the cause” nonsense.
I would not ask to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom.
If there were a Cleveland bedroom, I might.