Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was interviewed by FOXNews’ Greta van Susteren recently.
During the exchange, the host brought up the Reverend Wright controversy and how Barack Obama handled it. To which Pelosi responded:
… Look, I am just glad he went to church. All these people talk about their faith and their religion, and I do not think any of them should be held accountable for everything that their pastors say in their church…
It may seem trivial, but the hidden meaning of that first sentence was not lost on Secular Coalition for America director Lori Lipman Brown, who wrote this letter to Pelosi:
… In response to a question raising concerns about the church Senator Obama had attended until recently, you replied, “No. Look, I am just glad he went to church.” The clear implication of your words is that any church is better than no church. Unfortunate comments such as this reinforce the negative stereotypes that attending church should, in fact, be a prerequisite for becoming President and Americans who do not are less fit for office.
Millions of Americans who do not attend church, and/or who do not believe in god(s), hear such words as an indictment of their choice to live differently than you and Sen. Obama. Among those Americans is Rep. Pete Stark, your colleague from the state of California who has proudly served in the Congress for twenty five years.
As the Speaker of the House of Representatives, you serve and represent this entire country in all its diversity and are one of our most visible leaders. We hope that in the future, you will be more inclusive in your public statements and more consistently represent our tradition supporting freedom of conscience for people of all faiths and none.
Who knows if a response or apology is forthcoming (I would guess “no”), but the question is interesting:
Is any church better than no church — in the public eye — even when the church might have problems of its own?
Obviously, as atheists, we would argue “no church” is perfectly fine, if not better than going to church at all. But I ask the question from the viewpoint of a religious voter.
At what point does going to church become a liability for a person running for office?