Pontifications

Pontifications


Obama’s new church: St. Elsewhere’s?

posted by David Gibson

Evergeen Chapel.jpgOr St. Nowhere’s?

In a report disputed by the White House, TIME’s Amy Sullivan writes that the much-anticipated decision on where the Obama’s would worship has been settled, and instead of joining a congregation in Washington, Obama will do like W. and worship at Evergreen Chapel, the nondenominational church at Camp David. This ends a long church hunt familiar to many who move, especially with young children. But of course, few of us happen to be the POTUS. Sullivan writes:

“A number of factors drove the decision — financial, political, personal — but chief among them was the desire to worship without being on display. Obama was reportedly taken aback by the circus stirred up by his visit to 19th Street Baptist in January. Lines started forming three hours before the morning service, and many longtime members were literally left out in the cold as the church filled with outsiders eager to see the new President. Even at St. John’s, which is so accustomed to presidential visitors that it is known as the “Church of the Presidents,” worshippers couldn’t help themselves from snapping photos of Obama on their camera phones as they walked down the aisle past him to take communion.”

But at USNews, Dan Gilgoff reports the White House as saying no way, the search is still on:

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.

The decision is fraught, and the Camp David choice wouldn’t seem as isolating as I imagined. The chapel draws upwards of 70 people each Sunday to its “nondenominational Christian services,” which are open to the nearly 400 military personnel and staff at Camp David and their families. A Navy chaplain and nephew of Johhny Cash–and a Southern Baptist!–is the current pastor. A long ways from Jeremiah Wright. The late Cardinal James Hickey of Washington delivered a sermon calling the chapel a “witness to our common belief that we need to seek divine guidance in the conduct of our national affairs,” Sullivan writes.  

Still…I hope Obama does choose a congregation, embedded in the community and part of a distinct and longstanding tradition, as he did before. There are many understandable factors working against such a choice. As Gilgoff notes:

George W. Bush, who was perceived as intensely religious, could afford to worship quietly at Camp David. Obama, who’s still establishing himself as a Christian in the public eye and who continues to battle false rumors that he’s a Muslim, could afford to flaunt his Sunday-morning habits a bit more.

Sticking with Evergreen Chapel (jeez, what a name) does cut a president off from the negotiations, as it were, that come from commitment to any larger community. And those negotiations are part of the journey of faith. But they’re young. Maybe after 2016–or 2012?–they’ll be free to choose another church.

For now, conservative Catholics are just happy the Obamas aren’t becoming Catholic, as the White House confirmed last week. And I, for one, hope he doesn’t go the “C Street” route that did so much for Mark Sanford’s personal growth…

BTW, anyone know where the W. Bush’s are worshipping these days? Not much easier for ex-presidents to take a pew anonymously.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(20)
post a comment
Mike Sweitzer-Beckman

posted June 29, 2009 at 3:25 pm


It’s interesting to think about Obama trying to go to church somewhere and, while church-hunting is familiar to many who move around, it is true we don’t have the other variable of being the POTUS.
I wonder though – if Obama were looking for a larger congregation and denomination to be a part of – would he be more popular than the pope in DC?
This article indicates he is not.



report abuse
 

JAB

posted June 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm


We makes the biggest deals about the smallest things. Who cares where they worship? It is their personal business. I noted that even the U.S. News and World Report faith blog felt the need to report this.



report abuse
 

Cindy

posted June 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm


I’m sorry but I think this quote by Gilgoff:
“George W. Bush, who was perceived as intensely religious, could afford to worship quietly at Camp David. Obama, who’s still establishing himself as a Christian in the public eye and who continues to battle false rumors that he’s a Muslim, could afford to flaunt his Sunday-morning habits a bit more”
is beyond stupid.
I think it is insulting, especially to the public but also to the Obamas, to George Bush (who I normally don’t care if people insult) and actually I think it is insulting to the whole idea of worship.
And religion. And faith.
As if it is all about what it looks like and what others who are watching me need to feel comfortable with, or believe, my faith and belief.
Gross.



report abuse
 

Cindy

posted June 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm


That last sentence should read:
As if it is all about what it looks like and what others who are watching me need to feel comfortable with, or believe about, my faith and beliefs.
(I left out “about”)



report abuse
 

Frank Clyburn

posted June 29, 2009 at 5:25 pm


I feel that Mrs. Obama may be a Christian, but I think that Mr. Obama has no real desire to be so described……with his early training as a Muslum he may or may not be confused as to his faith, if any, but in this country, he must have an appearance of being Christian….must be hard on him!



report abuse
 

Emily Jane

posted June 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm


What this nation needs is a good Episcopalian president, one who supports gay marriage, women in authority, and free thinking in faith.
Mr Obama shouldn’t be afraid to assert his faith in public, and from what I’ve seen, I think he’d make a great Episcopalian.



report abuse
 

David Gibson

posted June 29, 2009 at 10:00 pm


Emily Jane: Not to cast stones, but Mark Sanford is an Episcopalian.



report abuse
 

ann

posted June 29, 2009 at 10:15 pm


What would make somebody honestly question Mr.Obama’s belief in Jesus and what right would we have to do so? IS it because he professes to believe in Jesus as Christ and tries to live accordingly? One can disagree with him on issues but to cast such an unjust statement his way is beyond arrogant not to mention unkind.
Aren’t they suppose to know we are Christians by our love?



report abuse
 

Mareczku

posted June 29, 2009 at 10:27 pm


What is the “C Street” route. Is Mark Sanford an Episcopalian? I read somewhere that Mrs. Sanford is Catholic. Is this true? I think where the Obamas worship is their decision but I can see the hardship in joining a church in Washington, DC.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 29, 2009 at 10:28 pm


The Obama family should certainly go where they feel comfortable. It appears they have chosen a place to do their worshiping. No problems with me if they didn’t go anywhere.



report abuse
 

Cindy

posted June 30, 2009 at 7:17 am


“C” street is a reference to “The Fellowship” isn’t it? That renowned powerful Evangelical secret society that helps fallen congressmen and presidents recover their power base after they slide into sexual sin?
There doesn’t seem to be a reason for President Obama to attend.
But perhaps once his evil Muslim roots reassert themselves, and his agenda to overthrow the country in favor of becoming an African satellite of Mugabwe’s dictatorship come to fruition then he may need to avail himself of such. I imagine all his nefarious intentions do include infidelity to his wife but that is so tame considering just how perfectly evil he truly is.
/irony off.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted June 30, 2009 at 8:36 am


It is none of our business where Mr. Obama worships, but of course being in public office it is made our business. How great the burden placed on any public figure when he is not permitted his own personal expression of faith.



report abuse
 

ann

posted June 30, 2009 at 9:10 am


well done Cindy!



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 30, 2009 at 11:02 am


Little lack of trust there, Cindy? Even if President Obama was Muslim (and he’s not) what would be the problem? Christianity is better? Not necessarily. An understanding of other faiths might make the world a better place, but most folks keep insisting their’s in the only ones. No wonder there are religious arguments. No one faith is the best.



report abuse
 

Cindy

posted June 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm


Pagan Sister — you did see the /irony off at the end of my post, right?
I don’t care a whit if President Obama was Muslim, Hindu, Atheist or even (gasp) Catholic.
I do tend toward belief of the person professing the faith, so since he says he is Christian then I tend to say he is a Christian. Not because I think Christianity is better, but because it is his choice to believe and to name that belief.
It has always amazed me, throughout the entire election cycle (wasn’t it a 100 year cycle toward the 2008 election?) that an “accusation” of Muslim faith would be so odious as to require some proof of its falsehood.
What? Don’t we actually protect and value freedom of religion in this country? Well, if not in the country at least in our Constitution?
But, I digress.
I was simply poking fun at the ubiquitous Muslim-scare tactics that continue to be thrown at the President.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted June 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm


Sorry, Cindy. My mistake. However there are some who post who would be serious about what you wrote as you know,…still being convinced Obama is a Muslim and all the “evil” that conjures up in some folks.
Yes, it is amazing that in 2009 that as “accusation” of Mulsim faith would be so odious as to require proof of it’s falsehood.
Having reread your post..’tis well done, as expressed by ann.



report abuse
 

on the journey

posted June 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm


it should not matter where he prays, but that he prays
surely there are more serious matters facing us
but this sure is fun!



report abuse
 

Jasmine Jones

posted July 1, 2009 at 8:02 pm


How can you really believe in God and practice his beliefs, and say you are a true believer in God,if you believe in Gay Rights. Same sex marriage is wrong and the United States will fall like the Roman Empire.



report abuse
 

pagansister

posted July 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm


Jasmine Jones:
How is it any of your business and how does it affect you if homosexuals marry? It doesn’t. It’s called equality for all. Not to worry, the USA isn’t going anywhere. BTW, there are many true Christians who know that their creator loves all his/her creations and accepts hetetosexuals and homosexuals. What is the expression I’ve heard many Christians say? “God doesn’t make mistakes.”



report abuse
 

God is the only God

posted July 6, 2009 at 11:22 am


God does love all of his creations more than anything, and he accept them all, but only after they repent of their sins.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Pontifications. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Faith, Media and Culture Prayer, Plain and Simple Happy Blogging!!!  

posted 2:38:01pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Moving on, and many, many thanks...
So...my recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from PoliticsDaily.com to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That means, in short, that I'll have to sign off from blogging h

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored the new look Calvin in an essay at PoliticsDaily, "Patr

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, hence the long absence. Apologies to those who have chec

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's contribution in developing countries" were key topics of discussio

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.