White House Vetting Invocations for Events: Report

The White House has begun vetting invocations given by ministers before presidential events, said to be an unusual by members of past administration and religious authorities.

The White House Office of Public Liason has requested that the ministers of various religious traditions who are asked to give opening invocations at events submit their prayers for approval beforehand, according to a report by U.S. News, which characterizes the vetting as a "departure from previous presidents."

The White House refused to directly comment on the issue, though a spokeswoman said that the practice of preapproving the invocations has "been standard since the campaign."

"If a similar thing had been done by President Bush's White House, I guarantee you there would have been a lot of people crying foul," Bill Wichterman, deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison under President George W. Bush, told U.S. News. "Democrats can do this with immunity, but when Republicans do it, it becomes controversial."

"The only thing worse than having these prayers in the first place is to have them vetted, because it entangles the White House in core theological matters," Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "Why would you even request getting a copy of the prayer in advance if you didn't want to exercise the power to change it or even cancel it?"

(h/t The Weekly Standard)