The New York Times has a front page story on the next important decision President Obama will make: where to go to church for Easter Sunday.
In a briefing for reporters on Friday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed that President Obama and his family will be attending services at a Washington, D.C. area church tomorrow, but he wouldn’t say where. The Obamas last attended services on the Sunday before the inauguration, choosing to visit Washington’s Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, which incidentally is on 16th St., N.W.
Personally, I don’t care where the President worships God, or for that matter, if he worships God. What’s more important to me is that the President uphold the Constitutional principle of the separation of Church and state. In his visit to Turkey this past week, the President demonstrated that he understands this principle, but his remarks clearly upset the theocrats within the GOP.
As a Christian in the Baptist tradition, I believe in the strict separation of Church and State. I don’t want the government to favor one faith over another and I certainly don’t want the government to sanction prayer in schools. (But as a friend of mine once said, as long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in schools.)
The reasons for my opposition go back to the basic tenets of Christianity. Jesus invites us to His table, but no one should compel us to come. When we come, we come not because we must, but because we may.
But back to President Obama and his church choice. It seems to me the most important thing a church can offer the Obamas is a place where they can connect to unofficial Washington. Finding that in a community of faith will go a long way toward keeping the President and his family grounded and focused on what really matters in life. If a local church can help the President and his family in that regard, we’ll all be better off.