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December 29, 2008

Mr. Obama Goes to Church--Rarely

Barack Obama has made a point of telling anyone who will listen how important faith is to him. The president-elect speaks the language of faith fluently, for the most part, and he has made a special effort to reach out to evangelicals. But a report in his hometown Chicago Tribune notes that Obama has scarcely appeared at Sunday worship since his famous falling out with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. According to the Trib, "he has not attended a public church service since before being elected, a departure from the actions of his two immediate predecessors."

Noting that he doesn't want to make a commitment to a church before moving to the nation's capital, and worrying about his possibly disruptive presence with other worshipers, Obama says he relies on pastor friends and his own private prayer in the interim.

Yet the president-elect says he will find a church once the move is complete. "We frankly haven't thought about it yet," Obama told the Tribune, "because right now we're just trying to make sure that we don't lose anything in the move, including our children."

Another Obama predecessor cited concerns that he would be a disruption as a factor in his own spotty church attendance as president. His name was Ronald Reagan.

Comments

My wife and I hope and pray that the President elect becomes filled with the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God knows that we need a President that will be AGAINST the killing of unborn babies, as well as keeping the Sanctity of Marriage between men and women. Please Father, allow Barack Obama to drop to his knees in repentance and allow him to guide this country towards Godly and just ideals!

Steve & Trachena Muchnick

I'm glad you added that fourth paragraph to give readers a place of comparison.

Frankly, this is just one more reminder that I wouldn't want to be president. How can a person with that much power have any sense of normal community and accountability?

"Another Obama predecessor cited concerns that he would be a disruption as a factor in his own spotty church attendance as president"

This sentence makes no sense. Some editing error, it seems.

I don't think you need to worry about President elect Obama and his church attendance. Remember separation of church and state???? If you want to see all the "good" the church has done in politics, read The Family - I think it is shameful!!! You people have been against Mr Obama from the start, along with Dobson, and I am disappointed.I hope he picks a "main line" church and not an evangelical or fundamentalist one. Just my 2 cents.

Reagan lived his faith, Obama has only talked about it. He seems to have an excuse for everything.

Why the critical title: "Mr. Obama goes to church - 'rarely' "? That just sounds snarky and uncalled-for, to me.

But I did appreciate this: Yet the president-elect says he will find a church once the move is complete. "We frankly haven't thought about it yet," Obama told the Tribune, "because right now we're just trying to make sure that we don't lose anything in the move, including our children." Taking care of the "least of these" -- Obama clearly has his priorities in good order. I hope more godly dads will follow his example when it comes to making their families' needs more important than other peoples' opinions, even if those opinions come in the form of religious folks gossiping about them.

Even if he had decided to leave the institutions of religion altogether, a la the highly committed but "unchurched" Christians in George Barna's Revolution, I would not think it would be any reason to judge Obama's personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Frankly, nobody has any business sizing up anybody else's faith or spiritual journey. Let's just love one another and leave the judgment to God.

If Obama was a true follower of God, he would understand what the scripture says about life. Jeremiah 1:5 states, "Before I made you in your mothers womb, I chose you" God created each one of us as his masterpiece, and if you believe in God, you cannot stand for abortion.

Gay marriage, The bible clearly states that this is sin. You never read anywhere in scripture where relationships where between men/men, and women/women.

Obama will go to hell for his sin, unless he gets right with God.

Church attendance has nothing to do with religion, and going to church does not make you a christian anymore than going to a restaurant makes you a chef. It's all about a personal relationship with God !!! He gave us 10 basic commandments, and if these were followed, our nation wouldn't be in half the trouble that we are in today. It is a sad world that we live in, and people like Obama do not make it any better

I wonder how many people during the Presidency of Lincoln had time to figure out where the President was attending church. We, who live in an age of instant communication, have lost our bearings for American history and tradition. What we need in our Presidents is a good dose of American Civil Religion where there is an openness to diversity and a hunger for prophetic words from the President of the USA. I feel that President Obama needs our prayers and support for him, his wife, and children. In due time our new President will have chosen where he and his family will worship.

In looking at this issue historically,it is worthy to note that, among others, G.W. Bush was not the best example for church attendance and neither Ronald Reagan.The president is not our pastor, priet or bishop. Why should we make so much of church attendance? What we should be most concerned about is the quality of decisions he/she makes.

I hope Christanity Today and its affiliates don't intend to make a habit of hypocritical, superficial, meaningless criticism of President-elect Obama and his family. I saw no such criticism of George W. Bush and his false use of religion and God's word to push his personal vendettas and personal agenda. No matter your political affiliation, your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), your race, your gender or any other demographic/psychographic identifiers, we all will need to pray for President Obama and his administration. It is in the best interest of our nation, and indeed the world, that the Obama Administration is successful.

President-elect Obama's church attendance is between him and God. God will judge him accordingly. I have yet to hear President-elect Obama reject and/or denounce God or Christanity. Until that time, I don't think this article's implication that PE Obama is NOT Christian has any basis or leg on which to stand.

Let each of us be committed doers of the word, faithful in prayer, and diligent in self-examination while leaving judgment and God's business for God to do. God has never failed, and He never will.

Mr. Obama's fear of disruption seems perfectly fair and reasonable to me, not to mention innocuous. Any time a celebrity goes somewhere public - and announces beforehand that they'll be there at a certain time! - whether they appear at a music store, restaurant, clothing store, etc., there is always a significant disruption of events due to increased and frenetic activity from fans, haters, the press, etc. When you have someone of Mr. Obama's position going out in public, add to the equation lobbyists, activists, and potential assassins, and things are getting even more disruptive. Quadruple the disruptive factor by adding in security logistics and Secret Service presence. Consider not only the regular churchgoers who may be starstruck or resentful, but also the influx of stargazers and afore-mentioned activists etc. And consider the added security risk to the entire congregation: not only do you have your everyday kooks who will try to kill any president, but white supremacy remains unfortunately alive and well in the country.

To me, this reason for ceasing regular church attendance doesn't indicate a loss or lack of faith, but is instead a potent reminder of the sad and unique isolation that is required of the average head of state.

This here is just my two cents:

"Church attendance" is not the sole mark of a true follower of Jesus. As Christians, we don't "go to" church -- we are the church. We are already in Christ, and He in us, making the ritual of merely entering a steepled building (or not) on any regular basis hardly worth wringing one's hands over.

There are many believers, zealous for God, who don't attend church, just as there are many unconverted who do warm the pews each Sunday. :)

Easy, Big Guy! I don't think most of us are trying to judge his "spiritual journey." We just want to know where he is coming from-and his lack of church attendance tells us something about him. Have you ever met anyone who hung out at a bar and did not drink or anyone who could always be found at the ballpark but did not play ball?
True, he is not our pastor but he will make decisions which impact what we believe on many levels. The old saying is, put your money where your mouth is--and he will try to do that. Just as you can tell such things as the fervency of a professed football fan by the jersey he wares and the amount of football trinkets around his house, you certainly can assess Mr. Obama's commitment to spiritual values.
If he frequently worships with Rev Wright or infrequently worships with a main line liberal Protestant church or a West Virginia snake handler, we can make assumptions on what to expect--and, I hasten to add, on how we should pray. Political junkies make assumptions based on voting records and who his friends are. Why should Evangelicals be denied their criteria?

Regarding Marcus Goodyears comment, my response is, and "You People" have been for Obama from the start, in spite of the fact that he is an abortionist and a sodomite supporter.

Amen Scott! And I did not vote for Obama. But this is trifling stuff.

murdering of unborn babbies is so alfull to me.JESUS said in luke18let the little childen come to me, donot hinder them.for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.I tell you the truth,anyone who will not receive the kingdom of god ,as a little child shall will never enter it.

If you look up interviews with Bush and Obama on their religious faith you will find that they are very similar. In fact, in the two interviews I found, Obama sounds much more religious than G.W. Bush (I won't bother posting links, you can find them via search or at my blog). For Christians to compare Obama to G.W. Bush and say "He's no Bush" or think that Bush was "better" is really absurd. As far as I can tell, they are the same.

Secondly, it is good and fair to point out whether this person attends church regularly. He claims to be Christian who takes his faith seriously--this claim isn't an irrelevant passing remark. The public wants to know where the guy is getting his values from. Someone who says they are deeply rooted in the Christian faith but never attends church seems to be fibbing, ceteris paribus. But if he says he is busy, I'll believe him.

There is nothing "snarky" about the title. "Rarely" is not an emotive word. It's a statement of fact.

We should be concerned because of who he seeks for advice. Who he worships. How he worships.

You cannot separate that from how one lives, thinks and does. Congress shall establish no religion.

That does not mean a man or worman must empty or void those things which cause them to be who and what they are.

We do not expect a president to do what is not required by the Congress..... Civil rights.
A right to have a religious life..or religion.

The State and the man....there is no comparison.
Man is given the freedom to do as he chooses. God gives man the freedom to do as he chooses.

Man either accepts...or denies.

There is no evidence that President Regan had anything more than a "country club" faith. And President Nixon also said he wanted to avoid disrupting worship services. So, instead, President Nixon invited pastors to conduct Sunday services in the White House.

I hope, and pray, that President-elect Obama's faith in Jesus as Lord of Salvation, Lord of Redemption, Lord of Life, is real, central to his world view and central to his daily walk.

But I won't know that by checking his attendance card, not even by reviewing his tax returns - though it would be nice to have a "First Tither" in Washington.


To a limited extent, all of this will be much clearer in a year, or two, or eight. For now, I am reduced to obedience - praying for those in authority, obeying all laws not directly antagonistic to my faith in the King of Kings, and hoping that our new president is making the same prayers "without ceasing."

I've moved a lot as a miliary wife and we ALWAYS thought about what we would look for in a church and looked them up on the internet prior to our move. Given he lives in Chicago, shouldn't be hard to find one there while waiting to take office. Oh--wait--he has been a US Senator for almost 2 years, he should have been in DC during that time so he should already be established in a church in DC. Can't tell me he flew to Chicago every Sunday. So he was either skipping church, OR wasting tax payer money going home OR not doing the job the people of Illinois elected him to do because he was busy running for president.
That being said, God is omnipotent and does not only reside in church buildings, I was out of church for several years as a child, but always continued my personal relationship with God and His Word.
But given Mr. Obama's stands for so many things that God stands against, I have my doubts that Mr. Obama has had much of a personal relationship with God or spent much time in His Word. I think he has been a follower of a man without checking the man's words with the Lord's Word.

I think Bush is more godly than Obama as a Christian. But it is a little bit earlier to judge Obama. We should listen to what he says and observe what he does. Most important thing is to pray for Obama.

Like Robin, I find the tone of this post a bit "snarky." It seems to imply, unfairly, that the President's faith is simply part of a campaign image.

Let's use some common sense, here. As you mention, because of much (overly) publicized disagreements, Mr. Obama felt that he had to part company with Rev. Wright--is it really that hard to understand that he would feel it best to leave the congregation that Wright pastored so as not to have further distractions to the congregation and his own life? Also, Mr. Obama has been in the middle of a presidential campaign which required him to travel, continually, around the country for the past year or more. Is it really that surprising that he has not had the time to find a new church home? (Particularly considering the fact that if he won, he might be looking for a church in DC?)

I believe that being part of a faith community is vital to our growth as Christians, but I also know that there are many people consistently populating church pews who really don't know what it is to have a deep faith and abiding relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If Mr. Obama is truly a man of faith--and at this point I am willing to take his word for it--the measure of that faith cannot and should not be arbitrarily measured by whether or not he is to be found in a certain church pew on Sunday morning. The measure of his faith should be assessed by how he handles the responsibility of caring for his family and his country.

Although i am a native Ugandan and from an ethnic background quite similar to that of Obama's late father;whenever I listen to some of his speeches he does not sound like a committed christian.I feel it is a resposibility of the body of christ world over to pray for him;in case of bad fruits reflected in polycies;it may be hard for us to avoid it;even those of us who are not Americans give the global village we now live in.
Thanks.

Like Robin, I am discouraged by the sneering judgmentalism if this article. As a non-American, I am thankful to the Almighty for a thoughtful and considered man of faith being elected to the great office of POTUS.

Kathy--

Obama did fly home to Chicago every weekend when he became the Senator from IL. When Republicans were in charge, Congress was only in session from Tues - Thursday so he and others were able to have long weekends with family and constituents.

It is most noticeable our President-Elect is a good and decent man with extraordinary values and compassion.

Christianity suffers a great blow when Evangelicals seek to elect a President based on the candidates religious beliefs and how often he attends church without examination of the individual's character and intelligence. The result is an arrogant despot who believe God is speaking to him when in reality it is own ignorant thoughts and ideas. The result is a world at war, rendition, torture, and corruption.


Is everyone just as worried about their family members being Christians, going to church or having REPENTIVE hearts as they are Obama ( your children, parents, spouses)? Do we press to see what church they are attending or if they know Jesus Christ? I doubt it. Denise on December 30th summed it up completely. It's hard to believe this is a Christian website with Christian people! Unbelievably with a Christian magazine instigating the strife. Leave Obama in God's hands and just pray SINCERELY for him as the bible says. None of these presidents have been perfect, so stop holding Obama up to a different standard. This country was a mess before he came into office. All of us participated in making it that way! If we really want to blame someone for the corruptive morals and values of America, let's start with the CHRISTIAN community. Alot of profess Christians are in the closet, coming out of the closet, adulterers, fornicators, thieves, liars, etc....to include those who have been (unlike Obama) appointed as Pastors to lead people to Jesus Christ. Obama is not the Messiah; he WILL make mistakes in judgement at some point as did his predecessors! Why should he be any different! There was a terrorist attack under Clinton and Bush (yes, only ONE, but we shouldn't of had any!), why should he be blamed if we had another one. We never blamed Clinton nor Bush. It would have been silly to do so! Abortion & Morality are not the ONLY issues (people are jobless, hungry and sleeping anywhere they can). Getting this country back in line with the word of God will begin with Christians who need to stop being opininated/judgemental and use that energy to preach and teach the word of God to those abortionist, homosexuals, fornicators, liars, etc that you dislike so much. Jesus loved and died for us all. We can't get MAD at everyone that doesn't see things the way Christians do. Even Christians differ in how they interpret the bible(baptist, pentecostal, catholics, evangelicals, calvinist, etc etc...more strife). Church are knee deep in sin by CHRISTIANS. Others are lost and have never heard of Jesus to include YOUR family and friends. Please, allow God to deal with Obama's heart just as He will ours and let us do what we have been predesinted to do! Being a witness to the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST to all mankind!! Otherwise, this country will NOT STAND!! I didn't vote for PE Obama, but I will pray for him just as I did GW Bush who confessingly made PLENTY of mistakes. I thank God GW Bush will hold his head up HIGH as he walk out of those doors knowing GOD STILL LOVES HIM inspite of!!