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Barack Obama's prayer at Western Wall intercepted en route to God

July 25, 2008 | 12:56 pm

Jerusalem - Obama Western Wall prayer is published by Israeli newspaper, and everyone elsePoliticians lose certain (read: most) rights to privacy when they aspire to public office, but this particular breach makes me shudder a little. From the Guardian:

The rabbi of Jerusalem's Western Wall criticised an Israeli newspaper today after it published a private prayer written by Barack Obama and taken from the sacred site after he visited the city earlier this week.

It is a tradition for the millions of visitors to the Western Wall, one of the holiest locations in Judaism, to place inside the cracks in the stone written prayers or requests to God. The rabbi in charge of the wall collects the notes periodically and buries them on the Mount of Olives.

Yes, the underbelly of journalism involves chasing politicians out of seedy hotels in the dark of night, taping conversations and nosing through quasi-personal records, but it should most definitely not involve stealing personal appeals to higher powers. Political Machine even refuses to publish Obama's prayer, opting for its own rendition: "Dad, things are great here. Please send more money. Love, Barack":

It may seem paradoxical to make a joke about the prayer, then refuse to reprint, but there are two principles at work here. In comedy, nothing is sacred. In a democracy, privacy is sacred.

But, because you'll ask, and because I don't have such high standards:

"Lord—Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will."   

Beliefnet submits its line-by-line breakdown, and commenters wonder if Obama expected it to be made public. Reason, which calls the prayer pilfering "warrantless wiretapping on a phone call to God," raises this question:

What if the same note had come from George Bush's pen? One can only imagine the headlines: President Sees Self as "Instrument" of God's Will! 

To which I respond: private prayer, people! What he writes to his maker is his business and — in an ideal world — should be inadmissable in the court of public scrutiny. Besides, I'm willing to bet everyone secretly thinks they're at the center of the universe. Obama at least has the evidence on his side. 

-- Amina Khan

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