It seems a couple of pearl clutching ministers have felt compelled to voice concern over The Obama family's personal choices regarding religion:
In Minneapolis for the Religion Newswriters Association annual conference, I asked two members of the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships about the ongoing question of the first family finding a local church. It's about the children, is basically what both the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churches, and the former Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page answered.This woman talks about Christian community as if Christians have a special kind of social structure that can't be found anywhere else but church. That may be true in regard to indoctrination, but otherwise anything you get from socializing at church you can attain by alternative means. Volunteering at a food bank or pet shelter, participating in community sports, even going to a park on any given day will expose your child to the same kind of community you find at church. Christians do not have any kind of monopoly on social interaction beyond proselytizing their own specific beliefs. It ends there.
"How will the children have a sense of Christian community?'' asked Chemberlin. "That's the pastoral question that's in my heart and I don't know the answer.'' Though she has "no criticism about the decision that they've made,'' she said the question still tugs at her." "How is the family going to get what they need, including the kids? How do they have a sense of Christian community, which for many of us is the formative place?''
If this woman has "no criticisms about the decision that they've made" then why is this being put forth as an issue of concern? This claim seems disingenuous to me - I'm not criticizing, I'm concerned. So are we to believe that your concern is because of something that you...agree with? Are comfortable with? Concern typically arises from actions which are perceived as negative in some way. By making a statement like this, You might be skirting around the edge of criticism, but that's only in regard to semantics. You're criticizing. It's OK, you have the freedom to do so. Just please be honest about it and stop trying to act as though you're not.
Page was equally concerned. "I do encourage our president to find a church for he and his family to attend,'' he said. "And while I deeply appreciate the fact that he does read the daily devotional that Joshua DuBois (director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships) sends to him - I appreciate that very much - those girls need a church. They need to be under instruction and tutelage of some godly people.''The only person who knows President Obama's spiritual needs is President Obama. Perhaps it benefits the image of religion to have the president be faithful on a regular basis, but that has nothing to do with concern for Obama's immortal soul, that has everything to do with religion trying to remain as relevant and powerful as it was in the last administration in this current administration.
Page said it was encouraging that Obama is currently hearing preaching from a Southern Baptist chaplain when he visits Camp David but he doesn't think that's sufficient. "He needs to be faithful on a regular basis, not just when he's on vacation at Camp David so it would help if that were a more consistent and more a part of his life," said Page. "I think it would be a grounding influence for him and an encouragement to the faith community."
Personally, I respect Obama for seeking out what spirituality he personally requires and dedicating the rest of his time to, you know, running the country.