mostlycloudy
Sunday May 3rd, 2015 5:05PM

Obama nurtures his faith away from the spotlight

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is not an overtly religious man. He and his family rarely attend church, and he almost never elaborates in public about his own relationship to his Christian faith.<br /> <br /> But away from the public eye, advisers say, the president has carefully nurtured a sense of spirituality that has served as a grounding mechanism during turbulent times, when the obstacles to governing a deeply divided nation seem nearly insurmountable.<br /> <br /> Every year on Aug. 4, the president's birthday, Obama convenes a group of pastors by phone to receive their prayers for him for the year to come. During the most challenging of times, prayer circles are organized with prominent religious figures such as megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights activist.<br /> <br /> Each morning for the past five years, before most of his aides even arrive at the White House, Obama has read a devotional written for him and sent to his BlackBerry, weaving together Scripture with reflections from literary figures such as Maya Angelou and C.S. Lewis.<br /> <br /> "I've certainly seen the president's faith grow in his time in office," said Joshua DuBois, an informal spiritual adviser to Obama who writes the devotionals and ran Obama's faith-based office until earlier this year. "When you cultivate your faith, it grows."<br /> <br /> Obama is particularly moved by theories that draw connections between biblical themes and the personal journeys of historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., DuBois said.<br /> <br /> He added that the president's spiritual strength is his belief that God will carry him through to see another day even in times of crisis.<br /> <br /> "Because of these grounding aspects of his life, he doesn't let the day-to-day challenges really shake him," said DuBois, a former associate pastor at a Pentecostal church.<br /> <br /> The image of Obama as someone who draws heavily on faith to guide his daily life contrasts with his public persona.<br /> <br /> An intensely private person, Obama has shied away from all but the most general descriptions of his spiritual life.<br /> <br /> Obama had to distance himself from his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, when his anti-American rantings threatened Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.<br /> <br /> Persistent and false claims that Obama is secretly a Muslim have followed him even into his second term.<br /> <br /> "Sometimes I search Scripture to determine how best to balance life as a president and as a husband and as a father," Obama said in February at the National Prayer Breakfast. "I often search for Scripture to figure out how I can be a better man as well as a better president."<br /> <br /> The best clues to which texts fortify Obama's spiritual consumption may come from the daily devotionals that DuBois started sending Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois, in 2008.<br /> <br /> DuBois ran religious outreach for Obama's presidential campaign that year, and his digital benedictions for Obama have been compiled in a forthcoming book, "The President's Devotional."<br /> <br /> "A snippet of Scripture for me to reflect on," Obama has said. "And it has meant the world to me."<br /> <br /> At pivotal moments in Obama's presidency, DuBois sometimes selects texts that offer lessons appropriate to the challenges at hand.<br /> <br /> Before one State of the Union address, it was the words of Isaiah, in an appeal for clarity of speech: "So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth, it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose."<br /> <br /> Others are intended as an oasis from the conflicts Obama confronts on any given day.<br /> <br /> "We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not in despair," reads a verse from 2 Corinthians that DuBois sent Obama one November, followed with his own meditation: "Dear God, give us a resilient spirit, a spirit that returns to face this day even in the shadow of yesterday's challenges. Help us, today, to bounce back."<br /> <br /> In his final years in office, Obama plans to continue with the morning meditations, the birthday call with pastors and ad hoc prayer circles, said a senior administration official, who wasn't authorized to comment by name on Obama's spiritual life and requested anonymity.<br /> <br /> In times of crisis, from hurricanes to school shootings, many Americans look to their president as a source of strength and comfort.<br /> <br /> "This office tends to make a person pray more," Obama said last year in an interview with Cathedral Age magazine. "And as President Lincoln once said, `I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'"
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Dems, GOP seek to define issue for 2014 elections
Ten months to next year's midterm elections, Democrats are determined to make Congress' slim production of fewer than 60 laws and plenty of incompletes - on immigration, gun control, tax reform and basic spending bills - a defining issue, heaping much of the blame on the GOP-led House for obstructing President Barack Obama's second-term agenda.
1:38PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Consumer confidence rises on better job outlook
U.S. consumer confidence jumped this month on a better outlook for hiring and growth, supporting other signs that show the economy could accelerate in 2014.
11:17AM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Christie to attend breakfast ahead of Georgia GOP convention
New Jersey Gov. Christie Christie is scheduled to attend a breakfast event as Georgia Republicans open their state convention later this month.
By Associated Press
8:30AM ( 1 day ago )
Gainesville Council told no change needed in millage rate; name change needed for public utilities
Budgetary discipline and slightly higher property appraisals mean no change to the Gainesville property millage rates. Abundant rainfall and tightening water management regulations mean a name change for the city’s Public Utilities Department.
12:54PM ( 3 days ago )
Gov. Deal signs dual enrollment bills to boost workforce
Gov. Nathan Deal has signed two bills that remove barriers to dual enrollment participation by struggling students with no plans to attend college and also those youngsters who are excelling in high school.
By Associated Press
12:06PM ( 3 days ago )
GOP unveils budget plans in face of Obama opposition
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans controlling Congress Wednesday unveiled a budget plan for the upcoming year and beyond, setting up a confrontation with President Barack Obama over his signature health c...
8:09PM ( 3 days ago )
Rubio to speak at Georgia Republicans' state convention
Presidential candidate Marco Rubio is slated to address Georgia Republicans at the party's state convention next month.
By Associated Press
2:35PM ( 4 days ago )