Obama Hasn’t Chosen a Church

Reports started going around this morning that President Obama had finally chosen a church:

Now, in an unexpected move, Obama has told White House aides that instead of joining a congregation in Washington, D.C., he will follow in George W. Bush’s footsteps and make his primary place of worship Evergreen Chapel, the nondenominational church at Camp David.

In a rush to break this news, Amy Sullivan at Time may have spoken to soon.

The Christian Science Monitor and several other sources say otherwise:

“The President and First Family continue to look for a church home. They have enjoyed worshipping at Camp David and several other congregations over the months, and will choose a church at the time that is best for their family,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki said in a statement.

There’s no rush on this, of course.

Obviously, I would love it if he just didn’t choose a church at all, choosing to worship in the privacy of his own bedroom. Is that not an option? Or are Christians so insecure that they have to see him sitting, bored out of his mind, in a public sanctuary?

The way the media would follow him wherever he goes, though, may be a practical reason not to choose one. He already has a religious advisory team. He says he is religious when he makes speeches. Going to church would just be for show, anyway. Despite being a politician, Obama doesn’t strike me as someone who would want to go to church just for the sake of appearances. He might have to eventually if his faith is in doubt by the voters, but I would assume we have more important things to think about.

Going to church isn’t a prerequisite to being a Christian, anyway.

  • schism

    Or are Christians so insecure that they have to see him sitting, bored out of his mind, in a public sanctuary?

    The…politically-minded Christians are indeed that insecure. Not to mention that they wouldn’t be appeased unless Obama’s church were of the particular sub-sub-sub-denomination (i.e. theirs) that is obviously the only real true faith. Of course, that particular demographic won’t accept anything Obama does simply because Fox News and the 700 Club tell them not to, so it hardly matters in the end.

  • ckitching

    For a lot of Christians, it seems they’ve never read Matthew 6:5-8. Being privately religious isn’t enough for these people. They demand public demonstrations of your religion. I guess they gotta root out those heathens.

  • Brad

    Actually Christians are suppose to go to church. Because you are working from the premise that there is no God, you fail to understand the benefits of attending church regularly.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    I’m reminded of the reaction Julia Sweeney got from her mother when she told her she no longer believed in God:

    “But you still go to church, right?”

    It seems that for many Christians, the act of going to church on Sunday is more important than believing in God, praying in private, or acting like a Christian (whatever that means) the other six days of the week.

    I think it’s important to remember that religion is a social construct, propped up largely by social agreement. So of course going to church would be seen as important. Without it, the whole system collapses in a couple of generations.

  • littlejohn

    During the 08 presidential campaign, I got the distinct vibe that neither Obama nor McCain was a believer. They both understood, of course, that an uncloseted atheist could never be elected president, so they faked it.
    Did anybody else get that feeling?
    Obama still has to fake it of course, since he will likely run for re-election.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    Actually Christians are suppose to go to church.

    According to the churches, yes. And according to Apple, I’m supposed to buy an iPhone.

  • Sven

    @brad:

    Early in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus instructs his followers on how to pray:
    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
    Hemant hit it on the head: as the story goes, praying alone in one’s room is the preferred mode of prayer.

  • http://nathanintownsville.com Nathan

    “I think it’s important to remember that religion is a social construct, propped up largely by social agreement. So of course going to church would be seen as important. Without it, the whole system collapses in a couple of generations.”

    If you’re religious then religion is more than a social construct – it’s the act of serving the deity you believe in.

    Going to church is not “essential” but it’s useful if you believe in God, believe he works through the fellowship of believers and want to continue in your faith.

    It’s more a case of genuine concern for Obama’s spiritual well being that interests Christians when it comes to speculating about church attendance.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    If you’re religious then religion is more than a social construct – it’s the act of serving the deity you believe in.

    Yes, I’m aware that believers think that. But given that every piece of “information” we have about religion comes from people — visions, sacred books, religious authorities, parents, etc. — I stand by by statement that religion is a social construct. And the reason going to a house of worship is so strongly emphasized is that that’s how the meme gets perpetuated.

  • Cafeeine

    It is notable, that whenever single people begin to pray and study on their own, schisms, separations, reformation and new denominations happen.

  • Miko

    Obama was one of the best campaigners in history. He’s savvy enough to know that if he goes to church, then there will eventually be pictures of him nodding off in church. I expect that he’ll go for the option of “worshiping in private” if its even remotely tenable politically.

  • atomjack

    Miko, I’m sure there is some president-grade stimulant to keep the man awake during services. j/k, really, I’d like to see where he does end up, if or when he settles on a church. I pretty much hope he never makes a selection.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Even with this news, the Obama hating religious kooks will still hate him and make up some sort of reason to keep hating him and plotting his failure.

    For me, I wish he would keep his worship and beliefs out of the public spotlight.

  • http://abandonallfear.org.uk Lex Fear

    Whatever belief Obama declares when he makes his public speeches or fulfils his public role, it’s for no-one to say whether he *personally* attends a church, mosque, temple or bathroom.

    @martymankis: Going to church is as much a personal decision as not going, it’s nothing to do with public service, it’s the media and bloggers that keeps this in the spotlight, not Christians.

    And I am amazed at how many atheists think they know what goes on inside a church or what the point of attendance is.

    FYI for all the Matt 6 scripture quoters – that’s about prayer in context of a mostly religious society, not church fellowship.

    No Christian protests that atheists should not meet together for your religion-bashing. Why care or protest against Christians meeting together for worship and fellowship?


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