Obama makes rare church appearance in Washington

WASHINGTON Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:55pm EDT

1 of 6. U.S. President Barack Obama with first lady Michelle Obama (R) and their daughters Sasha (2nd L) and Malia walk out from the White House to attend Sunday service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington September 19, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, who invoked his own Christian faith recently in seeking to quell anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, attended church in Washington on Sunday for the first time in about five months.

Obama and his family strolled a block from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church, a place of worship for many of his predecessors, for an hour-long service.

It was one of just a handful of times Obama has gone to church in Washington since taking office in January 2009, and follows opinion polls showing that as many as one in five Americans falsely believe he is Muslim.

Obama's visit came after he appealed for religious tolerance after a Florida pastor's threat to burn copies of the Koran sparked an outcry in the Muslim world and controversy swirled around plans to build a Muslim cultural center and mosque near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.

"As someone who relies heavily on my Christian faith in my job, I understand the passions that religious faith can make," Obama told a September 10 news conference.

The Obama family never joined a church in Washington. Obama has said it would be too disruptive to the congregation. The White House says he regularly attends services at a chapel at Camp David when spends weekends at the presidential retreat in Maryland.

Obama was a longtime member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago before quitting in 2008 during the presidential campaign amid controversy over provocative sermons by its former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The last time Obama went to a Sunday service in Washington was to celebrate Easter in early April.

The morning sermon at St. John's dealt with Luke 16:1-13, the parable of the dishonest steward that ends with the admonition "you cannot serve God and wealth."

Obama led his wife, Michelle, and two daughters to the altar to take communion.

Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, was a regular churchgoer in Washington for much of his tenure but his attendance tapered off in his final two years in office.

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (3)
Joseph411 wrote:
Nothing but an act to try to get people to believe he is not a muslim. It will not work. All of America now knows who he is and where he stands after he sided with building that giant mosque at Ground Zero.

Sep 19, 2010 6:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Hestoninaz wrote:
“George W. Bush, was a regular churchgoer in Washington for much of his tenure but his attendance tapered off in his final two years in office.” Seems to me that all presidents are pandering to the religious community. Politics is about power. Funny that people still vote their passions and most never look at the facts. This is America you can be a Buddhist and chance your mind and become a Fundamentalist Christian after a five minute walk. We have the option to pic the rule book we like most. That is religious freedom.

Sep 19, 2010 10:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheOracle wrote:
Obama does not appear to be a christian or a muslim. He appears to be what other elitist, pseudo-intellectuals are: an atheist.

Sep 26, 2010 12:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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