Civil religion in its various facets is deeply rooted in American culture. Outside of a few exceptions, politicians and believers alike, with varying degrees of comfort, find civil religion and the public expression of religious faith to be acceptable and propitious points of departure for the presentation of self in everyday life.
That being the case, it should not surprise that President Obama asked to pray with “Mr. Evangelical” Billy Graham, and that Graham and his son Franklin did so. A full report here. I am also not surprised that Barack, a convert to the Christian faith, prayed on behalf of Graham in that same context. The Obama family’s faith was nurtured for many years at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, a congregation I have worshipped with on several occasions. The congregation does not believe in raising up passive believers. Everyone is expected to be able to engage in extemporaneous prayer, to have a devotional life consisting of daily reading of the Bible, and to show fruits of repentance in their daily life.