President Obama says First Family won't join a D.C. church

Peter Barry Chowka
On Monday, March 29, 2010, President Obama was interviewed by NBC News and portions were broadcast on the Today show on March 30. According to the The Caucus blog at the New York Times:

Mr. Obama said he would not select a church while living in the White House. "What we have decided for now is not to join a single church, and the reason is because Michelle and I have realized we are very disruptive to services," he said.

Instead, he said he would from time to time visit St. John's Church, across Lafayette Square from the White House, where many presidents have worshiped. He also said the family prefers to worship in the privacy of the presidential retreat when it spends the weekend there. "We love the chapel at Camp David," he said.

And he noted that he is sent a daily devotional on his BlackBerry.

On October 13, 2009, a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution answered a reader's question:

Q: How does the church attendance of President Barack Obama compare to that of his immediate predecessor? - John Walker, Doraville

A: Obama has attended church twice in Washington since his inauguration - on Easter and on Oct. 11 - at St. John's Church, said Gary Scott Smith, author of "Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush" (Oxford University Press, 2009) and chairman of the history department at Grove City College, a liberal arts Christian college in Grove City, Pa. The Episcopal church is on Lafayette Square, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

Smith said Obama also has worshiped a couple of times at Evergreen Chapel, a nondenominational church at Camp David in Maryland, which the president has chosen as his primary place of worship, according to a July Time magazine report. Bush attended St. John's periodically, but worshiped fairly regularly at Evergreen Chapel, Smith said.

In an article on February 22, 2010, "Obama's spiritual life takes more private turn," the Boston Globe put the number of President Obama's Washington, D.C. church attendances as President to that point at four. It is not clear if that number included the President Elect and Mrs. Obama's attendance at a prayer service at St. John's on the morning of January 20, 2009, several hours before Mr. Obama was sworn in as President.

On Monday, March 29, 2010, President Obama was interviewed by NBC News and portions were broadcast on the Today show on March 30. According to the The Caucus blog at the New York Times:

Mr. Obama said he would not select a church while living in the White House. "What we have decided for now is not to join a single church, and the reason is because Michelle and I have realized we are very disruptive to services," he said.

Instead, he said he would from time to time visit St. John's Church, across Lafayette Square from the White House, where many presidents have worshiped. He also said the family prefers to worship in the privacy of the presidential retreat when it spends the weekend there. "We love the chapel at Camp David," he said.

And he noted that he is sent a daily devotional on his BlackBerry.

On October 13, 2009, a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution answered a reader's question:

Q: How does the church attendance of President Barack Obama compare to that of his immediate predecessor? - John Walker, Doraville

A: Obama has attended church twice in Washington since his inauguration - on Easter and on Oct. 11 - at St. John's Church, said Gary Scott Smith, author of "Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush" (Oxford University Press, 2009) and chairman of the history department at Grove City College, a liberal arts Christian college in Grove City, Pa. The Episcopal church is on Lafayette Square, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

Smith said Obama also has worshiped a couple of times at Evergreen Chapel, a nondenominational church at Camp David in Maryland, which the president has chosen as his primary place of worship, according to a July Time magazine report. Bush attended St. John's periodically, but worshiped fairly regularly at Evergreen Chapel, Smith said.

In an article on February 22, 2010, "Obama's spiritual life takes more private turn," the Boston Globe put the number of President Obama's Washington, D.C. church attendances as President to that point at four. It is not clear if that number included the President Elect and Mrs. Obama's attendance at a prayer service at St. John's on the morning of January 20, 2009, several hours before Mr. Obama was sworn in as President.