Obama: the president who celebrates Christmas, but not in church

He may not be that different from a growing number of Americans, in fact.

From The New York Times: 

President Obama celebrated a low-key Christmas in Hawaii this year. He sang carols, opened presents with his family, and visited a nearby military base to wish the troops “Mele Kalikimaka” — the Hawaiian phrase meaning “Merry Christmas.”

 But the one thing the president and his family did not do — something they have rarely done since he entered the White House — was attend Christmas church services.

“He has not gone to church, hardly at all, as president,” said Gary Scott Smith, the author of “Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush,” adding that it is “very unusual for a president not to attend” Christmas services.

Historically, watching the nation’s first family head to church dressed in their Sunday best, especially around the holiday season, was something of a ritual. Yet Mr. Obama’s faith is a more complicated, more private, and perhaps — religious and presidential historians say — a more inclusive affair.

And his religious habits appear to be in step with a changing America, with fewer people these days reporting that they attend church on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. According to a Pew Research Center study released this month, 54 percent of adults said they planned to attend Christmas religious services, while 69 percent said they traditionally did so as children.

Mr. Obama has gone to church 18 times during his nearly five years in the White House, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, an unofficial White House historian, while his predecessor, Mr. Bush, attended 120 times during his eight years in office.

But those numbers do not reflect the depth of Mr. Obama’s faith, said Joshua DuBois, the former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “President Obama is a committed Christian,” said Mr. DuBois, who sends the president a daily devotional by email, and is the author of “The President’s Devotional.”

“He has a serious practice of faith even though he doesn’t necessarily wear it on his sleeve,” he said.

Read it all. 


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X