Pete Souza  /  White House
The director of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois, looks on as President Obama signs the proclamation marking May 7, 2009 a national day of prayer.
updated 5/7/2009 1:51:46 PM ET 2009-05-07T17:51:46

President Barack Obama is marking today's National Day of Prayer -- but not publicly.

The president has signed a proclamation about the day in private. There'll be no public ceremony involving prominent clerics, lawmakers or prayers, as there was when George W. Bush was in the White House.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says it's not that Obama thinks the observance was getting politicized, as some critics charge. Aides say he's merely returning to the practice that prevailed before Bush took office -- of signing and issuing a proclamation.

Gibbs says Obama is well aware of the role prayer plays in the lives of Americans -- because he begins each day in private worship.

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