Jewish Journal

‘Obama skips church, heads to the gym’

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 24, 2008 | 3:18 pm

My initial reaction to that headline from Politico was: So what?

Barack Obama has probably been awfully busy since winning the presidential election. Maybe he hasn’t had time to find a new church in Washington or hasn’t been around Chicago on Sunday mornings.

But I guess the Obamas have been in Chicago and according to an aide didn’t want to disturb other worshipers at their church with the heavy security that would accompany them. (President Reagan was a member of my church, Bel Air Presbyterian, and I’ve heard the small army of Secret Service was, um, a bit distracting.) Still, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both made a point of going before God after being elected:

In November of 1992, Clinton went to services in Little Rock, Ark., on the three weekends following his election, taking pre-church jogs on the first two and attending on the third weekend a Catholic Mass with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, with whom he was trying to smooth over lingering campaign tensions.

In the weeks after the contested 2000 election, Bush regularly attended services at Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, and Al Gore was frequently photographed arriving at and leaving church in Virginia.

On his first day as president-elect, following weeks of Florida recounts and court hearings, Bush went to church with his wife, Laura. They attended an invite-only prayer service on Thursday, Dec. 14, at Tarrytown United Methodist Church. About 300 people attended, including top campaign staff and visiting clergy. During the service, the Rev. Mark Craig, senior pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, told Bush, “You have been chosen by God to lead the people.”

Obama was an infrequent churchgoer on the campaign trail, though he did make a series of appearances in the pews and pulpits of South Carolina churches ahead of that heavily religious state’s primary.

The issue of where he worships is, of course, fraught.

Bill Maher usually thinks he is right, but I wonder if he is start to feel confident in his hope that Obama was just faking it.

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