Barack Obama has long stressed the importance of religion in his life.
But as his fellow Christians around the world attended Christmas services on Wednesday and Thursday, the president-elect and his family remained sequestered at their vacation compound on the windward coast of Oahu.
His lack of attendance at formal religious services showcased a dilemma faced by Obama, who is between churches and often expresses concern about bringing the disruption of his security detail into the lives of others.
Still, he has not attended a public church service since before being elected, a departure from the actions of his two immediate predecessors.
This scrutiny of Obama’s church attendance strikes me as wildly misplaced. If he’d pledged to attend weekly services during the transition, I could see his Sunday/holiday schedules being of some interest. But since that’s clearly not the case, what’s with all the reporting? The media’s concern for Obama’s worship practices reminds me of a nervous grandmother, demanding to know whether the young’uns fulfilled their spiritual obligations on Sunday morning.
On the one hand, there’s a reasonable case to be made that reporting like this is an invasion of Obama’s privacy. How and where one chooses to worship is a private matter, even for a national leader.
On the other, let’s also not overlook the practical hurdle here. The Obama family is between congregations — they have not yet moved to D.C., where they’ll reportedly pick a new spiritual home — and while they relax in Hawaii, their attendance at a local church would likely cause quite a disruption. Indeed, asked about this issue, an Obama spokesperson told the Trib, “The president-elect didn’t want to disrupt a church community on Christmas with the burdens that come with a presidential visit.”
Is that not a reasonable explanation? The Obamas can’t even stop by a mall without generating a major stir, and they didn’t want to subject a church to that on Christmas.
Maybe the media can give this a rest?