Salon.com News | Piety on parade Piety on parade

Could Bush’s very public prayer circles be preparation for his announcement on stem cell research?

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By Arianna Huffington

Aug. 9, 2001 | Did you see the shocking, scandalous and utterly offensive photo on the front page of the paper Sunday morning — in full color and above the fold? No, I’m not talking about Gary Condit running the 100-yard media dash or Madonna writhing on the back of a mechanical bull. I’m talking about the disturbing picture of the president and his Cabinet bowing their heads in prayer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not opposed to prayer. In fact, I’m all for it, particularly when the supplicants are so clearly in need of divine guidance. No, what shocks me is that some paparazzo, no doubt an agnostic one, had the temerity to intrude on this private moment.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them,” admonished Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. “And when you pray you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men … When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Unless I’m missing something, Jesus didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.

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Amen.

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