President Obama delivered an unusually personal speech at Thursday morning's National Prayer Breakfast. The president joined spiritual leaders and guests including Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, at the annual gathering, and emphasized his own path to religion. "Like all of us, my faith journey has had its twists and turns," he told guests. "And let me tell you, these past two years, they have deepened my faith. The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray." Since the president is not known for wearing his religion on his sleeve, the "deeply personal" nature of Obama's speech surprised commentators. What's behind the move? (Watch Obama's comments)
He is playing the faith card: This is just the latest manifestation of "Barack Obama 2.0," says Ed Lasky at American Thinker. Having "barely attended any religious services in the last two years," Obama is now attempting a "public baptism" to attract the Christian vote in 2012. "Talk about religious hucksters..."
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He is silencing the conspiracy theorists: This most "public affirmation" of Obama's religion was clearly aimed at the two-thirds of Americans who claim to be unaware of his Christianity, says Richard Adams at The Guardian. And at a time when many Americans are "under the illusion that he might be a covert Muslim," it makes sense to "clarify his religious affiliation."
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He is sending a message to the GOP: Obama was "seeking to short circuit conservative critiques" ahead of 2012, says Michael Scherer at Time. The State of the Union emphasized his belief in American exceptionalism, and this speech was "an attempt to claim his own Christianity" in case others suggest he lacks religious conviction. Take heed, GOP: Obama "will not allow others to define his own beliefs for him."
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