STEPHANOPOULOS: So, do you have a church here in Washington?
OBAMA: Not yet. And so, one of the things that Michelle and I will be doing is probably visiting some churches and seeing what’s comfortable. It is tougher as president. You know, this is not just an issue of going to church, it’s an issue of going anywhere. You don’t want to subject your fellow church members, the rest of the congregation, to being mugged every time you go to church. And so, we’re going to try to be balancing, not being disruptive to the city, but also saying we want to be part of Washington D.C.
But one of the things that I don’t like historically about Washington is the way that you’ve got one part of Washington, which is a company town, all about government, and is generally pretty prosperous. And then, you’ve got another half of D.C. that is going through enormous challenges. I want to see if we can bring those two Washington D.C.s together. [article]
Translation: I haven’t yet found a predominantly black church where the pastor is not likely to get me into trouble.
On the other hand he seems to think that just by picking a church he can bring these two Washington D.C.’s together. Rather interesting is that his criteria is trying out churches to find which one is “comfy.” Yes the theological distinction of comfiness. Church shopping is of course a normal American pastime. To find a church where you can check off going to church on Sunday without actually being challenged in any serious way and if they have a Starbucks that’s a bonus.
Presidents not going to church services is nothing new. President Reagan said that he did not go “as regularly as I should. I suppose it’s true that a man can be religious without going to church.” His attendance before becoming president was spotty and as president very infrequent.
I bring this aspect up because I find it interesting the difference between the Catholic and Protestant view in this regards. While church going is mostly emphasized in Protestantism, missing one of the services for any reason is not seen as any problem. There is no service like Mass Times for Protestants so that they can make sure they go to a service when on vacation or traveling. Though of course when speaking of Protestantism it is always hard to speak of it as a block and possibly High Anglicans or some Lutherans, etc might take the Sunday obligation more seriously. But for the most part Protestants consider it no big deal if you miss church services. For the most part you can receive all of the benefits of a Protestant service by watching a comparable one on TV. The sermon is the main focus for most Protestants since there is no sacramental component that actually requires personal attendance. So why not just listen to the best sermon on a podcast or from your favorite TV preacher?
The virtue of religion is the duty whose purpose is to render God the worship due to Him. Here is a problem that Catholics and Protestants share is that we go on Sunday often with the primary attitude of wanting something for ourselves. We want good liturgy/homily/fellowship, etc or to be entertained and actual worship of God takes a back pew. While the desire of liturgy/homily/fellowship are goods they are not the primary reason for the Sunday obligation which has it roots in third commandment. Too often we become passive in wanting to receive something instead of uniting ourselves together in worship of God. To quote Kurt Cobain “Here we are now, Entertain us” can be used to describe what many people want out of Mass/service. The key to good liturgy/homily/fellowship, etc is that it helps us to worship God.