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David Brody, White House correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, said in a column that, “within the conservative evangelical community, there was never any real expectation that the White House would hold an event.”

However, the White House did host an April 9 Passover Seder for family and friends - the first time a president has hosted that Jewish religious meal.

But the president passed up the fifth annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, scheduled for the Washington Hilton and expected to have 1,300 participants.

Joe Cella, a spokesman for the effort, said the White House never asked for Mr. Obama to attend.

Mr. Bush did ask to come and always made a few brief remarks. But the new president, Mr. Cella said, would not have been allowed to speak because of a 2004 directive from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops saying that public figures who have taken positions opposing Catholic doctrine should not be publicly honored.

“We’d host him graciously, but we’d not give him a platform to speak,” Mr. Cella said.

All major presidential candidates were invited to attend last year, he added, but none responded.

For this year’s prayer breakfast, Catholic members of the administration have been invited. They include Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

None has responded, Mr. Cella said.

The keynote speech will be given by Archbishop Raymond Burke, the former St. Louis prelate who now heads the Signatura, the Vatican’s top court. He has recommended that pro-choice Catholic politicians such as Mrs. Sebelius not be allowed to receive Communion.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is scheduled to speak.

Despite the White House snub, National Day of Prayer ceremonies are still slated from 9 a.m. to noon in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Speakers include former NFL all-pro running back Shaun Alexander and Dick Eastman of Every Home for Christ.

An estimated 40,000 coordinators and volunteers will host locally organized events nationwide at courthouses, state capitols, city halls, parks and school flagpoles.

Nathan Diament, an Orthodox Jewish leader who has attended National Day of Prayer events in the East Room, said co-religionists should not find fault with the president.

“While some will no doubt criticize the Obama White House for this decision, we think that is inappropriate,” he said, “and, moreover, not in keeping with the purpose of the observance which is to unify Americans through a national moment of reflection and aspiration to higher purposes.”

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