In today’s headlines, one reads: “Obama searches for a church home”.
After all, even if his family remained behind in Chicago, he himself was a Senator living in the Washington DC area for several years. Didn’t he ever attend church during that time?
Of course, nowadays, security and politics have a lot to do with it.
Some presidents like President Reagan didn’t attend church at all, fearing that they would distract from the worship service. And of course Bill Clinton had no trouble exploiting his “christianity”: he made attending church a “photo op”, showing him greeting the minister, bible in hand, during Monicagate.
But the telling paragraph in the news report is this one:
Of those churches that best fit the Obamas culturally â€” ideologically and in terms of community service â€” which have the best youth programs for children Sasha and Malia?
That says a lot about the Obamas, and a lot about the “congregational” idea behind much of American Protestantism: they chose a church that “fits” them.
The Obamas seem to be choosing a church according to the first definition: one that has a youth group, and lots of social outreach programs.
The Congregational system of churches has many advantages: it allows people with like minds to network and solve problems, it encourages friendships, and it allows reinforcement of good behavioral traits. As a doctor, I often encouraged even my non believing patients in rural areas to find a church home, so that they could become part of the community.
Yet there is something missing in the above discussion: Why go to church, when joining the Rotary club or the local bowling league will get you the same feeling of fellowship with good people?
What’s God got to do with it?
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.