Daniel Burke of Religion News Service has a good piece on the churchgoing habits of U.S. presidents and the pressure on the incoming First Family to find a church home. (I’ll link the article when it appears on the Baptists Today website later today.)
He notes that, even while in office, John Quincy Adams (pictured) went twice on Sundays — and that Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school at the First Baptist Church in Washington where he and his family were members.
Others, like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Burke reported, preferred to avoid the church pews and hold occasional services in the White House.
He noted that President-elect Barack Obama and his family will face all sorts of pressures and invitations about church membership. It will be interesting to see where they land and how they engage.
Church involvement is so community-oriented and worship is so Other-focused that it creates unique challenges for persons of fame. But I hope they keep trying to make it work.
Likewise, Burke writes that opinion polls show that most Americans prefer a churchgoer in the Oval Office. He quotes historian Gary Scott Smith of Grove City College in Pennsylvania as saying: “Americans want their presidents to have solidly moral foundations,and attending church is one barometer of their moral convictions.”
Wherever and whenever the new First Family does show up for worship, I just hope they are not asked to “remain seated while members and regular attendees stand and sing.”