Protestants Hold Inauguration Monopoly
Priests, rabbis have been missing from ceremony for 20 years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2009 7:42 AM CST
Gloria Tatum protests outside Ebenzer Baptist Church in Atlanta Monday, Jan. 19, 2009.    (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Barack Obama's swearing-in will be the sixth straight inauguration where rabbis and Catholic priests will be absent from the dais, reports Time. For decades it was traditional to have Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish representatives at the ceremony, but Billy Graham’s invocation (and benediction) at George Bush’s 1989 inauguration ushered in an Evangelical Protestant monopoly that continues with Rick Warren's opening prayer today.

Obama's team stresses that religious diversity is amply reflected at other inaugural events, including tomorrow's national prayer service. The team may have opted for ideological instead of ecumenical diversity on the dais, Time writes. It may also be the case that adding a rabbi to the lineup would have required the presence of an imam for balance—a step too far for a leader dogged by false rumors that he is a Muslim.