No, We Don’t Care If President Obama Goes to Church


Jennifer Epstein felt the need to write at Politico on Christmas Eve, “President Barack Obama rarely goes to church and has spent just one Christmas morning of his presidency in the pews.”

Really? With all that is going on in the United States – and I’m speaking here of the nonstop Republican obstructionism dating back to 2009, with all the religion-based madness coming from the Republican Party, like a Missouri Republican wanting to force women to get permission slips from men before they can have an abortion – this is what they want to talk about? If Obama goes to church?

It’s like 2010 all over again, when the headline appeared at CNN.com, For first time in months, President Obama attends church publicly.

We are used to Republican attacks on Obama’s Christian faith, with Fox News, as ever, leading the way. We expect it, with Tucker Carlson’s complaint about Obama’s church back in 2007 that, “[I]t’s hard to call that Christianity,” or any of a number of things Hannity or O’Reilly or others have said over the years.

And then there is Ben Wolfgang, who wrote at the Washington Times in April, “analysts say he’s opened himself up to continued criticism by failing to find his own church after five years in Washington,” and that “he’s come under fire for rarely attending church during his time in Washington.”

So it’s bad if Obama doesn’t go to church regularly, but it’s okay if Republicans don’t show up in Congress regularly? Obama wasn’t elected to go to church, whereas those Republicans, on the other hand…

Wolfgang’s unseemly complaint prompted Steve Benen at Washington Monthly to quip,

If Obama had pledged as a candidate to attend weekly services, I could see his Sunday schedules being of interest. But since that isn’t the case, coverage of the president’s worship routine continues to seem out of place.

Benen nailed it, but his appeal to common sense didn’t stop the church-obsessed. Neither have facts, like the fact that President Bush was as sporadic church-goer during his eight years in the White House. And Bush, you may remember, was elected by the Religious Right.

The Christian Post told us last Christmas that,

Obama, a professing Christian, has gone to church 18 times since January 2009 when he was inaugurated as president, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who is an unofficial White House historian. The number becomes more telling when compared with that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who attended church service 120 times during his eight years in office.

And it is not only the Right Wing media talking about it. The New York Times brought it up last Christmas season too, feeling the need to tell us that “public rituals of religion have proved tricky for Mr. Obama.”

Well, doing their jobs has proven tricky for Republicans. Let’s talk about that.

What they all forget is Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution, the “No Religious Test” clause, which states, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter if Obama goes to church or not. It doesn’t matter if he is even a Christian, or, as conservatives often charge, a Muslim. In a word, it is nobody’s concern but that of Barack Obama himself.

But Politico had to tweet their “Big Deal”:

And their tweet, not surprisingly, brought out all the haters eager to demonstrate their complete ignorance of Jesus’s message:

Epstein writes,

In all, Obama has gone to services on about 6 percent of the Sundays of his presidency and just once on Christmas Day, in 2011, which also happened to be a Sunday. George W. Bush, by contrast, went to church on close to 30 percent of Sundays during his eight years in office.

All of this stokes criticism on the right, with some arguing that Obama’s professed Christian faith is a sham — or at least an overstatement — meant to make him more palatable to voters.

Wolfgang cited, inexplicably, I think, Gary Scott Smith, chairman of the history department at Grove City College and author of the 2009 book “Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush” as saying,

“I think it’s a very bad move politically and I think it is probably, depending on one’s perspective, a bad move for his family in terms of spiritual nourishment.”

But most of us would agree, I think, that spiritual nourishment is not the domain of history professors, and that even if it were, Obama’s spiritual nourishment is his own business, and it is not something in any event that can be found in church only.

If the “religious freedom” Republicans harp on so much doesn’t matter, those who are concerned might take a moment to reflect that even though Obama does not go to church regularly, the economy is booming.

Even if it mattered, as Obama advisor Joshua BuBois wrote at The Daily Beast back in January of this year, “Perhaps instead of counting up the number of times he kneels and prays on Sundays, we should allow him and his family to worship as they please.”

Hey, that’s a neat idea. Let’s try that, and then we can focus on the problems that are really problems, like the Republican refusal to govern our country. You know, that thing they got elected to do.

Photo: National Catholic Register

View Comments

  • I don't care one bit if he goes to church. That's up to him.

    Why anyone else gives a damn is beyond me.

    Let the man alone.

    • The xians care because the only thing they do besides whining about fake persecution is mind everyone else's business. It doesn't allow them much time for introspection, which is easy enough to tell from their hypocritical rantings.

    • There is a legitimate concern about folks who feel they have to attend church from one to three times a week to self flagellate themselves and ask forgiveness for sins committed since their last attendance. One might assume that they are slow learners at the minimum or even habitual sinners. Maybe Obama is like many people who feel that they just don't sin so much or so often that they have to do this penitence regularly. If anything, his lack of attendance might reflect well on him.

      • Most folks know that whether or not you go to Church has nothing to do with who you are as a person. It makes no sense to me to hear folks say they are saved, but support policies that hurt the poor and disadvantaged. How they don't see the connection is beyond me.
        Besides to many folks God is everywhere and you don't need a building to acknowledge that. And since we have separation between Church and state, who cares?

  • GOP hypocrisy. Fox is all liars. GOP congresspersons steal from us $174,000/yr. for barely showing up. RW radio hatemongering racist, anti-woman, gunnuts. Palin 3three illegitimate grandchild pregnancies (Obama kids never pregnant or drunk in public fighting like trash.)Huckabee (phony pastor) lies straight into the camera without flinching.

    SUCH great examples of Christianity(laughable)

    I am Christian and do not regularly attend church but I do pray daily and have a wonderful relationship with OUR Father. My faith has never waivered. Need not be on display to exist.

      • I wouldn't be surprised if President Obama was an atheist. It is just a shame that anyone in the U.S. should have to make any public displays of religion, it shouldn't matter if anyone in public office is religious or not. Of course those who complain are also not too up on our constitution, or their bible for that matter.

        Edit. This was meant to be a comment on its own, don't know what happened.

        • "I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama was an atheist."

          That's an amazing comment! You do not know someone else's mind or soul. I have written heart felt letters to every one of our Presidents since JFK.

          I received notes from every one and the ONLY president who signed it with "God Bless and keep you" and quoted a verse from the Christian Holy bible was Barack Hussein Obama. It really took me aback. Not even Jimmy Carter did that, and it wasn't forced. One to one Obama uses a nice Christian message, but he won't stand up and quote from scripture in his state of the Union speech or any of his Rose Garden announcements. He ends his speeches with God Bless our soldiers (when appropriate) and God Bless the United States of America. He is a good man and I don't give a fig if he ever goes to church. It would turn into a 3 ring circus...everyone in the 24 hour news circus wanting to know EXACTLY why he went to such church and Michelle's dress! Suitable?

        • This is for Nuschler since he has no reply button on his reply. I am not saying that in a disparaging way, I just would not be surprised. I don't care if hes is religious or non=religious, or what religion he follows if he is. My musing came about because of the fact that most truly intelligent people have doubts about religion. I was hinting that for political expediency, it is best to play along with the religion thing and that that is a shame. Religion, or the lack thereof, should be a personal and private matter.

    • how dare you besmirch the good name of st. ronnie of hollywood. former red union leader who after he was washed up, nancy's dad pimped him out to be GE's and the MIC, spokeshole for the oligarchs on the right. he loved that he could read a script and stay on his mark. and yes, the senile during his 2nd term and his astrology wife , rarely attended the house of the holy.

  • Just for grins and giggles, can someone verify church attendance for the following people -

    Sean Hannity

    Bill O'Reilly

    Rush Limbaugh

    Dick Cheney

    Elizabeth Hasselbach

    Ann Coulter

    "Dr." Laura Schlessinger (she knows she's Jewish, right?)

    Shall I go on?

    • As I was reading this post, I was wondering how many of these media people attend church on a regular basis. My guess would be about 2% if that many.

      A person's religious feelings are shown more by actions than by filling a pew on the odd Sunday. President Obama may not go to a church regularly but we know that he cares about the welfare of people, all of us, here and abroad. His policies and his philosophy of government reflect his personal religious/philosophical feelings.

      My impression of President Obama is that he is a better and more sincere Christian than any of the media voices joining in this absurd criticism of a man who has done so much to help all of the American people.

    • What Church does that phoney "Christian" Sarah Palin attend in Alaska or Arizona.Yeah,we would all like to see a picture of her sitting in a pew,somewhere.

  • Matthew 6:1-34 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven...."

    Matthew 6:5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full."

    Luke 18:10-14 Kinda long, look it up.

    James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

  • ya know I sorta agree with Conan the Barbarian... he never prayed to Crom because his experience was that when you draw a god's attention, by annoying him or her with prayer, you might not like the results...

    the Greeks were big on this too...

    its a PRIVATE experience however you choose it...

    • What business is it of yours? Who cares, you should be grateful Obama rescued America from the sorry-ass republicans that tried their best to destroy it. Did you ask Bush why he spent more than 50% of his "presidency" drunk in Texas?

  • HH,
    I think you just stumbled upon their political strategy for 2016......the Christian coalition.
    The dems need to be pro active in calling a spade a spade in labeling the Koch RW agenda the party of greed, one of the 7 "deadly" sins!

    • The Christian coalition with the repubs started 30+ years ago. They make a mockery of what Jesus stood for and wants us to do.

      • Yes, Karl Rove started this in Texas when GWB was running for gov. against Ann Richardson.
        Even though this has been in their platform for 20 years, I see them putting it at the top of their platform since they have nothing good to offer the people of the United States of America. Their policies are not popular if people are actually educated on them. Since religion is so emotional, this is what they will run on to get the uninformed to the polls.

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