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Group Raises Big Questions Over New Obama Devotional Book: 'Composing Prayers and Bible Lessons on the Gov't Dime

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"Do White House staffers really have that much free time?"

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing room at the White House after the U.S. Senate voted to end the government shutdown and raise the dept limit on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that they have reached bipartisan deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling and end the sixteen day government shutdown. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote. Credit: Getty Images

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), a church-state separatist group, is taking aim at Joshua DuBois's new book "The President’s Devotional," claiming that it seems as though the author "used taxpayer-funded time to nurture Obama’s religious interests."

In the recently-released book, DuBois, President Barack Obama's friend, confidant and the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, shares some of the daily scripture, quotes and meditations that he has sent to Obama every morning for the past five years.

Credit: Harper Collins

AU is taking aim at the perception that DuBois used government time to prepare the Christian meditations, noting that providing Bible-based inspiration wasn't part of DuBois' official job description.

"It seems quite inappropriate for the faith-based director to be composing prayers and Bible lessons on the government dime," said AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett in an interview with Time. "And it is especially true when there was really important work to be done, such as reforming the faith-based initiative rules."

As a blog post written by AU's assistant communications director Simon Brown and published, DuBois has defended himself against these charges, claiming that the 60 to 90 minutes he spent on the devotionals each day wasn't when he was on the clock at his government job.

"I definitely did it before work or on the weekends and stuff like that," DuBois told Time.

The AU blog post goes on to question this explanation, writing, "If that’s true, and DuBois spent an average of 75 minutes per day on these devotionals, that adds up to eight hours and 45 minutes per week. Do White House staffers really have that much free time?"

AU also notes that the organization has long opposed the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Like most books of its kind, "The President’s Devotional" offers an entry for readers to consume each day that focuses on a specific theme.

From loving one’s enemies to remembering the importance of Jesus Christ, each selection, while brief, provides a pointed lesson for readers (the selections begin Jan. 1 and end Dec. 31, encouraging readers to very literally work their way through the text over the course of a year).

You can read more about DuBois' new book here.

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