1. Religion & Spirituality
Mary Fairchild

Obama Decides Not to Disrupt Church Services in Washington

By March 30, 2010

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Obama works on his Blackberry
President Obama says he receives a daily devotional on his Blackberry cell phone.
When President Barack Obama took office, I promised in this post to keep you informed of his decision to select a church home in Washington, D.C. The last definitive news I had was in early July 2009, when I explained that Obama had decided, like George W. Bush, to make the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David his primary place of worship.

Today, in an exclusive interview with Today's Matt Lauer, Obama confirmed that he will not settle on a particular congregation in Washington. Rather, the Obamas consider Evergreen Chapel at Camp David their "favorite place to worship" as a family. Obama told Lauer, "What we've decided for now is not to join a single church, and the reason is because Michelle and I have realized we are very disruptive to services."

He went on to say, "We love the Chapel up at Camp David ... because it's just families up at Camp David. There's a wonderful chaplain ... who does just a great job." In addition, Obama explained to Lauer that he has maintained fellowship with a "prayer circle of pastors from across the country" who prayed with him during his campaign for president.

If you've been curious about Obama's faith life, I think you'll find Lauer's interview interesting. What got my attention, in particular, was hearing Obama mention that he receives a daily devotional on his Blackberry. "It's a wonderful thing," he said. It made me wonder if one day Obama will sign up for my "Verse of the Day" email devotionals.

Seriously, I would like to know what you think of Obama's explanation for not attending church. Is being "very disruptive" a good reason for a president to refrain from regular worship services? If you'd like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.

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Photo: Getty Images

March 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm
(1) RC says:

Why would anyone believe any words that come out of his mouth?

March 31, 2010 at 5:48 am
(2) Bubba from Parkland says:

Riiiiiiiiight. Disruptive. This is the man that FORCED his SOCIALIST health care reform through on a SUNDAY that makes taxpayers PAY for the MURDER of unborn children. I’ve heard the theology of his old pastor and though he denies he shares it, I think he does. It is also common knowledge that when he was in school he declared his religion to be MUSLIM. Personally, as much as he seems to like those murderous thugs, I think he still IS one. Bottom line…he’s a radical left wing socialist forcing his liberal agenda and big government on a country that doesn’t want it. He shows great sympathy towards Muslims and has a propensity towards hatred of all white people (the theology of his old pastor). Yeah, I kinda think he might be disruptive to have in a church service. It might do him some good if everyone laid hands on him and exorcised those demons he has in him, though. I think he should go to a church that’s local and he might learn a thing or two. Personally, as much as I dislike what the man stands for and his politics, I am still going to pray for him. That’s my theology. Hate the sin but still love the sinner. It’s real hard to do sometimes but we all have to remember to do it. :)

March 31, 2010 at 12:02 pm
(3) Michele says:

Obama never attended a real church. Reverend Wright’s “church” was spewing the hatred of Black Liberation Theology, which is basically, “Hate the Whites.” This was a cult meeting, not church.

March 31, 2010 at 1:11 pm
(4) Messenger says:

He most certainly is not a Christian. I think that being in a true Christian church he would feel very uncomfortable, and I think that would be due to the unclean spirits inside of him.

If I could, I would challenge him to say a true prayer, and to pray in the name of Jesus the Christ .. and she how he handles that. I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t ever even utter the words “I love Christ.” The spirit he’s devoted himself to wouldn’t let him.

March 31, 2010 at 1:35 pm
(5) JD says:

His unwillingness to “disrupt” a Christian church service is as convoluted an excuse as his refusal to wear a flag pin or place his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. I realize (as Christians) it’s not our place to judge but this man’s behavior has NEVER been in step with the principles upon which this great nation was founded. My one word comment is “Balderdash?”

March 31, 2010 at 3:01 pm
(6) christianwoman says:

what a cop-out lame excuse….one more example of his “chameleon” defensive replies to real questions – leaving us to wonder what the answer REALLY was. I personally think he really is and always has been muslim and it’s going to be clear to the rest of the world – too late…

March 31, 2010 at 3:07 pm
(7) Kim Jones says:

I get the whole “not wanting to be disruptive” thing because were he to walk into a church service in “Regular-town” America, the people would be more focused on having him in their midst than the service. But we’re talking about Washington, D.C — the home of American gov’t! Having a high-powered politician in a room is hardly a novelty!

Another possible argument could be that other politicians would try to use the service time to talk politics. My response there would be “Only if he allowed it.” If he were to let it be known that any attempt to talk politics during his worship time would be met with not only silence, but also whatever they wanted simply would never happen because they interrupted his time with God, then that would stop in a hurry.

Seems like an excuse to me – but hey – we ARE talking about a politician here! The bottom line for me is that if he is using his job title as an excuse not to worship, he’ll have to answer to someone MUCH bigger than the American public on judgment day. In my 42 years of life, I’ve yet to find an excuse that was good enough to stand up to God’s truth.

March 31, 2010 at 3:27 pm
(8) Mary says:

Kim –

I thought it sounded like an excuse, too. A heroic show of “sacrificing for the good of others.” When in reality, I suspect his last affiliation with a church (Trinity United Church of Christ and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.) turned out to be such a colossal disaster, politically speaking, that he’s not about to make another public church association.

March 31, 2010 at 4:16 pm
(9) Brooke says:

Whew – I had never looked at this blog in about.com and now I think I never will again. Looks like all the comments are from the Christian right spewing hatred and lies. I was hoping that these comments from supposedly religious people would be a little saner!

March 31, 2010 at 4:31 pm
(10) Renea says:

Children need to be exposed to their Christian beliefs, especially at a young age. If for no other reason, parents must take their children to church.

It is sad that our president does not see the need to attend church services with his family.

March 31, 2010 at 4:38 pm
(11) adie says:

I believe that he is a muslim

March 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm
(12) John Timmermans says:

Obama decides not disrubt church, I won’t blame him. He decided to select just as Geo W.Bush to make the evergreen chapel at camp David his primary place of worship. It is hard for any President to join any church as he would have to bring all his secret agents as you never know which barrel is aiming at him. He is a born moslim but I belief raised as a christian. If he would ever turns moslim that would turn the U.S.A. upside down.

March 31, 2010 at 7:39 pm
(13) Tom Edgar says:

More than ever, after seeing the diatribe of evil expressed here, plus gross lack of any intellectual capacity, I am more than ever glad that I decided Texas was no place for me, and chose Australia instead. at the end of WW2.

We,at least, have had no compunction electing as leaders atheists, Jews, and for our sins Christians. Unfortunately they were all Politicians. Our present Mandarin speaking Prime Minister is an Anglican (Episcopalian) his deputy a female atheist, and she is likely to be our next Prime Minister.

Most of Europe, which includes the U K and Australian and New Zealand are, by your extremist, fascist, fundamentalist, interpretation Socialists. All of these countries have a superior health, education and social welfare standard than present day America which ranks as low as eighteenth out of twenty advanced countries.

Looking after those who are least able to help themselves shouldn’t be seen as Socialism, even if Socialists believe it. It seems to me that not caring is the prerogative of the Fascist Red Necked Fundamentalist Christians.

March 31, 2010 at 7:41 pm
(14) Tom Edgar says:

John Timmermans.

NOBODY is born Christian, Muslim, or any other religion.

We are all born without a belief and are indoctrinated by parents and society.

March 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm
(15) Ellie says:

I think it is a wise decision. I remember attending Mass several times when John & Jackie Kennedy were present. They were accompanied by a large phalanx of secret service agents who constantly watched the whole congregation which, of course, was casting glances at the First Couple. It was not an ideal worship setting.

With all the hateful vitriol being spewed at Obama these days, it seems prudent for him to worship privately for his and hos family’s safety as well as that of the congregation.

March 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm
(16) John Timmermans says:

Okay Tom, I was born in a catholic family, if you want to argue go ahead and try to understand a few things. It was a moslim family when Obama was born.

March 31, 2010 at 9:55 pm
(17) Tom Edgar says:

O K So I was born to Anglicans, lived on Anglican Estate, went to an Anglican School (All Saints). attended by only young devils.

Then I woke up. Tom Edgar

April 1, 2010 at 2:53 am
(18) Pam says:

I love how the few Obama fans came on here looking to bash some Christians, and jumped right in to do just that. They accuse the other posters of “hatred” and “spreading filthy lies”, and then go on to do the same thing they accuse others of; complete with name-calling (redneck, fascist), insulting folks’ intelligence, and in one case, daring someone else to challenge him. This is your “progressive”, “tolerant” Left! They can’t bear to have anyone disagree with Obama for any reason. My take is that President Obama is not a Christian. I don’t know what religion Michelle was raised with, if any. But for a President with young children to not attend any type of service on Christmas Day…that is unheard of, and a poor example. Add that to the fact that he cancelled the annual White House Prayer Breakfast, and originally named as his “spiritual advisor” the racist hate-monger Jeremiah Wright…well, you know what they say, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… Just keep your eye on him…not what he says, but what he does.

April 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm
(19) Pam Stephan says:

Gee, attending a Washington DC church has seldom bothered other sitting presidents. I thought DC just took those things in stride. Is he going to avoid other public meetings in DC because of those same concerns? Or maybe this is a generational thing – perhaps his faith is more of a personal thing for folks his age. So is “Blackberry Christianity” going to be the new evangelical fad? Just kidding! Happy Easter to all!

April 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm
(20) mh says:

I agree completely with Brooke

April 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm
(21) DoomedBlues3 says:

Brooke & mh or correct. Pretty simple question to be answered with so much right-wing garbage. Gee, I wonder why people are turning away from religion.

April 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm
(22) Tom Edgar says:

Pam (18).

I findi it ironical you accuse people of “Christian Bashing.”
Then obliquely indulge in Obama bashing.

So what if Obama or his family is not Christian, Muslim or any other superstitious group? 80% of Australians do not, or rarely attend, any place of worship. Our leaders and Politicians have been, and are, atheists, Buddhists, Christians and everything else between.

Since when did any religious affiliation denote sincerity or nobleness? I can think of many who were neither. Hitler, Pol Pot, George Bush, will do for starters. The list is too long for this format.

What the hell is wrong with not attending “Church” on some particular day or any other time? I haven’t done so in an adult lifetime, and I am well into my eighties, hasn’t hurt a bit. You no doubt rejected Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and The Guardian Angel as you grew up. What stopped your continuing growth?

April 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm
(23) George says:

A true christian would not be trying to judge another persons
beleifs. If real true christian full beleives in our Lord Jesus he would keep his openions between him and God and pray for our Presedent!

April 2, 2010 at 12:59 am
(24) Tom Edgar says:

George I’ll presume English is your second language.

So disregarding how you wrote it I’ll respond to the sentiments.

Real Christians from day one have criticised other people’s beliefs, and the opposite is just as true, each group thinking only their beliefs are the true ones.

Mumbling (Praying) to a non existent imaginary sky dweller will avail exactly nothing. For every person following this futile exercise there is another praying for the opposing view.

Like the Jew at the Wailing Wall, after sixty years of mumbling in his beard for universal peace, he realised he was beating his head against a brick wall.

April 2, 2010 at 10:34 am
(25) Mary says:

If posters cannot keep this conversation respectful, civil, and on topic, I will be forced to delete comments or turn them off entirely.

Thank you.

April 2, 2010 at 10:55 am
(26) JoAnne Robinson says:

Matt. 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

That pretty much sums it up :-)

Christ is coming back for His Church — not a political party.

April 2, 2010 at 11:48 am
(27) Shipsa01 says:

Ok, first of all – Obama is doing nothing different than what George W. Bush did. In fact – and I’ve lived in DC for a long long time – the last Presidents that actually attended worship on a regular basis were Clinton (post Monica), George H.W. Bush (and he went to Progressive St. John’s Episcopal), Jimmy Carter, JFK (Holy Trinity in Georgetown) and then Eisenhower (National Presbyterian). I’m not sure where (or if) FDR attended, and I have no idea any further back.

I attend two churches in DC – Grace Episcopal in Georgetown and New York Avenue Presbyterian downtown and I know both would be disrupted if he did come and worship. However, there are places that he could go that are built for big crowds and can handle the security that’s required (The National Cathedral (Episcopal), National Presbyterian, St. Matts (Catholic), and Foundry Methodist.

But after his experience with the looney Rev. Wright, I really don’t blame him for keeping his faith and worship private. I know at both churches I go to, the ministers do preach about liberal social issues. Obama would have to worry each and everytime he went what the sermon would be and how it would be (probably) misconstrued by hoi polloi – and the media.

It’s a VERY very tough issue to grasp and one that NONE of us have to think about or deal with in our lives. And we’re lucky for that. Obama (and Bush) isn’t (and wasn’t). So I think we should hold judgement and think a little bit more before casting aspersion’s.


April 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm
(28) Yankee228 says:

Ridiculous excuse — ‘disrupt’ services! Washington is used to the POWERFUL blah blah – attending services/ church is about more than a sermon / it’s community. I never thought they’d join one –Christian? How does this line up with the letter of support that Michel/Barack wrote supporting Planned Parenthood – or state Senator Obama voting four times against ‘medical help’ for BABIES who survived ‘induced abortion’ —as nurses testified these live babies were left in filthy utility rooms to DIE / sorry , maybe church attendance is a rather futile exercise if these actions are seen as negligible? At least for me – it does. Jesus so loved children/

April 3, 2010 at 6:13 am
(29) Terry says:

I am a Christian in the UK and I have to say that some of these comments frighten me, particularly those from fellow Christians. I could not imagine some of these statements emanating from the lips of Christ – there is hatred, division and bitterness evident in so many them and the sad thing is that the writers do not appear to recognise the apparent contradictions.

April 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm
(30) Sally says:

Obama was not raised in any particular faith. He attended a Unitarian church at some point while living in Hawaii and had some serious exposure to Islam as a child. He once said that the Muslim call to prayer was one of the most beautiful sounds in the world and he could still recite the words! I believe he is irreligious. He knows that many Americans feel more comfortable seeing their First Family attending religious services. It makes us feel better. It looks to me like Obama knows it would be good for his image to have a “photo op” at church, but left on his own, I doubt that he would go.

April 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm
(31) Debbie says:

If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck it’s a Muslim

April 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm
(32) twelh says:

Obama *IS* a muslim. Watch the video and tell me it isn’t so.

April 6, 2010 at 2:03 am
(33) Joyce says:

Of course it isn’t a good reason. It is an excuse. Other presidents have attended churches w/out any problems.
He just doesn’t want to go to church. A chapel at Camp David made up of families? He does like that and will attend there. What are the churches in DC made up of hippopotamuses?
There are families in all churches; the collective body is supposed to be like a family for everyone. I say by his remarks he doesn’t understand a lot.

April 6, 2010 at 5:36 am
(34) Jacqui says:

YOU are why people do not go to church. Your right wing hateful extremist views are why people don’t go to church. Search your hearts seriously check yourselves. Obama is hated by you; this is what you are writing. Christians do not hate, Christians do not judge, Christians do not condemn. Consider your thoughts, consider your actions. Not every one who says Lord, Lord means it. Did Bush display Christianity in deed? Did Clinton? People say what they need to say to get your vote, being a good actor does not make you a Christian. Live your life serve you’re God and stop spreading hate and bile, if he is a Christian or a Muslim it matters not, God is not pleased with this foolishness.

April 6, 2010 at 10:33 am
(35) pb says:

Well someone else voted for him. He is smoother than Bill Clinton and has the ability to lie with eyes open. He doesn’t go to church because he is a socialist Islamist one world believer. He is the spirit of antichrist.

April 6, 2010 at 11:08 am
(36) Alex6500 says:

I think it better for him to be a member of a specific church in a specifc location.
If Pres. Omaba wants to visit different churches ,that is ok too,i think. and if Pres.Obama does not want to join a specific church,that is his business
In My mind I think Pres Obama loves God and God loves him

April 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm
(37) hkw says:

To not worship is to believe that one “has all of the answers!”. Unfortunately, our Lord & Savior will not judge lightly such a haughty belief!

April 6, 2010 at 1:03 pm
(38) NewCreation says:

“where two or more are gathered together in my Name there I AM in the midst of them”

Wait a minute, didnt the article say, “We love the Chapel up at Camp David … because it’s just families up at Camp David. There’s a wonderful chaplain … who does just a great job.” So whats the problem? That he didnt join a religion??

I believe that his office deserves our respect, whether we agree with him or not, whether we like him or not, he is OUR PRESIDENT. Even though I did NOT vote for him, I WILL RESPECT HIM AND HIS OFFICE.

April 6, 2010 at 1:52 pm
(39) Barbara says:

Why on earth would you not attend a church service? The Bible says to not forsake the gathering together as some do. I don’t feel right not attending a church service myself and do not understand why that others don’t – other than they are just plain not wanting to. Don’t make excuses like “I don’t want to disrupt the church service” for actually saying “I don’t want to join a church plain and simple.”

April 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm
(40) susan jones` says:

Maybe I missed something. I saw him say he decided not to “join” a church. This does not mean he does/will not attend.

April 6, 2010 at 4:02 pm
(41) Ol'timer says:

Why would you want him to attend any church?
He’s not a Christian, he’s a Muslim.

April 7, 2010 at 10:38 am
(42) CE Mangum says:

Sounds like a bad excuse to me. Attending church is just part of being a true, born again Christian. Anyway, presidents have attended church before, and it never caused a disruption.

April 8, 2010 at 12:17 am
(43) Jennifer says:

Wow! As a Christian myself, I can’t for the life of me understand why other Christians spew such hatred! So the president wants to worship privately with his family. It’s really none of our business is it? I suppose that if he decided to attend church all you right wingers would accuse him of going for the photo op. He can’t win. I, too, agree with Brooke- first time on this page and last. Looking for a site with loving Christians. I’ll keep looking. . .

April 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm
(44) sharon says:

Obama would not disrupt me! After all we go to church to worship God not anybody else.

April 9, 2010 at 10:42 am
(45) Takeya says:

I find all of you who are bashing Obama and leaving your unwanted political commentary shameful! Whatever you think of him, he is still the president, and instead of harping upon what you consider his faults (and sounding utterly racist while doing so), why don’t you do what the writer asked, which is tell why you believe that his not JOINING a church, not attending a church. Mary Fairchild, though I have really enjoyed your past articles, I believe that you purposely phrased your question to get such responses. His quoted statement said that he “attends” church, but has decided not to “join” a church. “Attending” and “Joining” are two different words with totally different meanings. If what I believe is true, Mary, then you are as bad as the others who posted on this site, and all of you really should consider whether you are walking in the love that we as Christians should show for one another.

As for Obama attending church but not specifically joining one church…..who cares????!!! Since our forefathers, what president have we had who walked a Christian walk and birthed the spiritual fruits? None. We have to make sure that we as individuals birth our own spiritual fruits. How are we ever going to save others when we cannot come together and voice our opinions without sounding like bigots? Oh, and the Bible tells us to pray for our leaders, not bash them. James 3:9 states that we “therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (KJV). Instead of spewing such hate, pray for him, and if praying for Obama makes your blood pressure boil and that tongue of yours spew hatred, then you have much more to worry about than a colored man being in office and passing health care laws of which you don’t approve – you should be much more worried about your soul. Christians should not worry so much about the cares of this life – think on that.

April 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm
(46) Phyllis says:

You people are evil. You better search your soul or you will lose it. Stophating the black man because that is what this is all about. President Bush did not go to church either here, he went to camp David. Not one word was ever said about it. I did not know there were so many right wingers on this sight and your eyes are on the next election. Who do you think your kidding. I have been on this sight for a while but today will be my last day. Phyllis

May 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm
(47) ScooterT says:

I head the Obama’s state that they did not attend church because it was disruptive to the service. In browsing the internet I have seen several videos of our president going into a fried chicken restaurant with cameras etc. I am guessing to cause disruption.

As an american citizen I would rather see our president in church than carousing around at the fried chicken places.

August 18, 2010 at 4:21 am
(48) sparkysgal says:

Last week (8/2010) he totally disrupted many lives by closing down a section of Los Angeles at rush hour. He had no problem with that. Church seems much less disruptive, and, if you check, the other presidents have been able to undisuptively worship in a house of God.

June 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm
(49) Robert says:

I came here to find out what faith, Obama, is. I’ve heard all sort of stories (rumors). It is now settled, he has accepted, Jesus Christ. I, nor anyone reading this, has the authority to judge otherwise.

June 21, 2012 at 3:51 am
(50) armiegrace desingano says:


July 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm
(51) Kate says:

““I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Mahatma Gandhi

July 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm
(52) Kate says:

I too am surprised by how many remarks here do not reflect the Christian principles I learned as a child. It is rather shocking.

September 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm
(53) kitty says:

I am surprised that most of this is just whining and complaints where are the prayers for our elected officials to do our Lord Jesus the Christ’s will and not theirs if you have not prayed for them daily you have no right to criticize them for you as a Christian have not done what was required of you either and for the few that have I applaud you and please keep it up for our leaders need all the help they can get
we who claim to be Christians ( I use the term loosely) are we really or only claim it when it is convenient for us when needed for our selfishness instead of being a pawn for Satan pray for forgiveness and guidance and those who are offended are the ones that need GOD ‘s grace and forgiveness the most

October 25, 2012 at 10:12 am
(54) Dani says:

Maybe he is telling the congregation (in a nice way) that you ran him away from the church? Too often preachers (and their congregation) are not prayed up enough and start acting up and putting out their own political stances and roughing him up.

Have you ever considered that church may have been his only place of peace and a place where he can hear God more clearly? He is still sheep.

So I respect his decision. Remove the “I” out of the situation, pray without ceasing and remember what Jesus said Christians, “…“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

October 31, 2012 at 11:56 pm
(55) janet r says:

I pray for Obama. I believe his former church did much harm to his faith journey. I understand “religious” hinderances. I believe “church” is not a place and he surrounds himself with people that I pray speak from the Word of God. Sounds as if Obama is being humbled for God’s glory. I pray for his continued journey, In Christ~

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