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October 12, 2009

Have the Obamas found a church?

Obama St. John's church

President Barack Obama and his family attended a worship service Sunday at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, their third visit to the historic congregation across Lafayette Square from the White House.

According to the Associated Press, Obama, first lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia listened to a sermon about how Christianity has consequences.

During the sermon, seminarian Mike Angell told the parishioners that the consequences vary, whether it's making a hard decision at work or deciding to give more time to God. But he added that they don't face these consequences alone. "We are given each other as a source of boldness," he said.

Obama also worshipped at the church on Inauguration Day and Easter. St. John's has been a popular choice among presidents, including George W. Bush, because it is close to the White House and familiar to the Secret Service.

Washington churches have competed for Obama's attention since his election. He quit his last church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, during the presidential campaign last year after the circulation of controversial sermons by its former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Photo by Getty Images

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 8:54 AM | | Comments (33)


Sounds like a wishy washy sermon to me. Our consequences for supporting The Episcopal church and it's pro homosexual views can be quite devastating, especially in light of what the bible has to say about homosexuality. If it makes the president feel less guilty about his "hard" decisions at work, then I guess he may keep attending there.

Yeah, why would anyone want to attend a thoughtful, compassionate, historic church which tries to apply the compassion of Jesus to the complex issues of the day?

Umm.... St. John's is uber-convenient; and with a couple hundred thousands LGBTQ Americans assembling on 15th for the March, the Obamas were kinda boxed in. If they really want to explore inclusive Christian fellowship, they need to venture up to Luther Place or over to First Congregational or Metropolitan Community Church of Washington.

St John's is a logical choice from both a historical and security standpoint. The President would be welcomed anywhere, and might make a different personal choice if it were possible. Fortunately, the Episcopal church is becoming an enlightened, inclusive body of Christ without fear and hate.

Choices have consequences is a great sermon and the fact that we each are to be bold to help others make those choices is also excellent. That is what following Christ is about, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned." Mark 16:15, 16

God warned against debt, most interest, insurance and seeking riches and honors of men. He condemned nations gathering together to strategize, protect and provide for each other. Why? Because He promises if they will live by His wisdom He will provide all they need and be an enemy to their enemies.

A healthy garden paradise lifestyle would end pollution and other world problems we created with the employment lifestyle.

Hopefully, he will seek God's solutions and His counsel for the real peace prize..

Marie Devine
God has solutions to world problems we created by ignoring His wisdom.

The president and his family should go where ever the Holy Spirit leads them. I'm curious about how a sermon should sound...."Sin and be burned!!!". Is that how a sermon should sound? You don't have to support anything you don't want to. That church does wonderful things for communities. But because that particular church welcomes all people they get flack for one issue. Give me a break!

This is a rarefied example of a rather quotidian premise, which is that urban parish churches in particular need to continue to engage, welcome, uplift and challenge their neighbors and not be solely dependent on a commuter congregation. The folks across the street may be looking for a church home just as much or even more than the "type" of parishioner "we used to have" but who has moved away, off to the suburbs. (There's an evangelism opportunity here, too: Urban churches at least have the advantage that their potential parishioners are less likely for their kids to have the distraction of Sunday morning soccer matches, with which suburban churches must contend!)

And Clay? Does EVERY commentary on the Episcopal Church have to be about its "pro homosexual views"? Where was sexuality even mentioned in the article -- or for that matter, the sermon, as far as this article describes it. There's one group in (and, more frequently, without) the Episcopal Church that's obsessed with homosexuality and "the homosexual agenda," and it isn't the national leadership or most of the bishops and clergy or even most of the laity. Or even me, a gay Episcopalian. If comments like yours could contain themselves to the subject being discussed, there might be more room for discussion.

the episcopal church is the ONE where each person is not asked to check her/his brain at the door.

Would the president want to go to a church and hear that the bible says that homosexuality is wrong? The fact is it does say that. What is the chance that the president would ever hear such a thing at this church? A church can accept all of the community, but it should never insinuate that everything that goes on in the community is ok. So if we are given each other as a source of boldness, let me be that for Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama, you dont need to get rid of dont ask, dont tell. Why? Because we should never be proud of our sin. Be bold and do what God wants you to. Thanks. Now do you think it will do any good? Fat chance, even though it is biblical. If Mr Obama wasnt afraid to truly follow God's word, then he could attend a more bible believing and following church. In fact, the main problem with liberals is that they are afraid to truly follow God's word. It isnt what they want to hear. They may have to change their lifestyle, give up alcohol or whatever. And you are darn right there are consequences, the biggest ones coming after we leave earth. Besides, Mr Obama sees himself as mostly Muslim anyway. But he wont take his family to a Muslim service will he? Sounds like someone is trying to straddle both sides of the fence to me, and the non Christian side isnt the way we get to heaven. God says in the bible that He will spit lukewarm people out of his mouth. Now that sounds more like what the president needs to hear.

Clay you sound like someone making a lot of judgments on the President, on liberals in general and on a Church you’ve probably never attended. You do remember what the Bible says about judging others don’t you? In his time on earth Christ was considered a liberal. Clay while I share your view on homosexuality acts and the Bible’s position on the subject this is not a religious state. The constitution guarantees freedom for all Americans not just Christians. You should be happy that the President makes time to actually attends Church. At the end of the day you know nothing about that church that qualifies you to make any comments on how Bible believing or following it is.

If anything sounds lukewarm, it's don't ask, don't tell. You think it's moral for people to lie about who they are? Is that biblical?

There is nothing wrong with not talking about your sin, as long as we make an effort to get rid of it. If we need to talk about it fine. But getting rid of dont ask dont tell and yelling in someone's face about being gay and being proud of it (it happened at the march) and announcing it to everyone is being proud of our sin. That is definitely not biblical. And I know those leaders in the Episcopal church who have proudly announced it have hurt the church, because it isnt biblical. Thanks.

And I should also have said that there is nothing inherently wrong with the Episcopal church, as long as its leaders stand up for what is right and arent afraid in the pulpit to say that they dont agree with women and gays running the church, etc. How do most of the men in this church deal with it? My point was that it seems like many dont want to make waves. I am not saying that everyone in this church is condemned. Here is something I heard in a sermon. "Mr. Obama never held a major office and never ran a large business of any kind, and he seemed to come out of nowhere. Could he be the anti-Christ?" I dont think Mr. Obama is the anti-Christ, although at times he has been anti-Christ (saying we are not a Christian nation, etc). However, if Mr. Obama heard this in a sermon instead of what I think he heard, I think it would make him think a lot more and question himself a lot more. That couldnt hurt anything, even if he didnt agree. What he doesnt need is to hear that we are correct to embrace all of the community to bridge the gaps between people, etc. We are to embrace all of the people in the community but not their behavior. God is the judge of all of us, and we should never be afraid to say what He has decided to have placed in the bible. That certainly doesnt stop with homosexuality. Thanks.

Clay - What exactly does your post have to do with President Barack Obama and his family attending St. John's Episcopal Church? The other concept you either fail to or choose not to grasp is that the Bible and Christian theology does not apply to a secular nation. That means we need to accept that certain things that Christians may consider immoral or sinful if you prefer will be legal. That is the price for guaranteeing our own religious freedom. Nowhere in the Bible are we called to force the teachings of Christ on those who choose to reject them.

Clay, I don't equate getting rid of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy with "yelling in someone's face about being gay". I'm just pointing out that the policy condones, even encourages, dishonesty among our armed forces personnel, which is a trait that is unworthy of those who proudly wear our nation's uniform. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

Everywhere in the new testament we are called to present the teachings of Christ to those who choose to reject them and pray that they accept them, otherwise they go to hell and the new testament is of no effect. Dont ask dont tell doesnt say that you have to deny being homosexual. It says to not talk about it one way or another. If you do decide to talk about it, then ask God to help you to reject this sin.

Clay – You say there is nothing wrong with the Episcopal Church then go on to make a moral judgment on how their leaders should act. Don’t you remember Christ’s words about removing the log from your own eye first? Whoever gave that sermon calling Obama an anti-Christ needs to spend more time studying the Bible and less giving sermons. If that’s going on at your Church I’d strongly suggest you find another. Why wouldn’t hearing yourself being called an anti-Christ not hurt? In fact it’s probably the most hurtful thing that could be said in a sermon. It certainly wouldn’t think more or question anything more.

Don’t ask don’t tell is a military policy and nothing more. It has no religious or Biblical significance. Why would some one who talks about being homosexual need God’s help more than someone who doesn’t talk about it. Somehow you’ve managed to twist the Bible with military policy.

There are things wrong with all churches, and if you decide not to talk about your homosexuality dont forget to ask God to help you also. Thanks.

Clay I agree all Churches have their problems. Why is it you only seem to find them in other Churches and not your own?

Like I said, my church has problems like all churches have. If you want an honest answer to your question, I honestly dont see as much disobedience of God's word in my church as I see in some others, and that is a fact. So when I do see it, and all of what I have criticized is what is officially approved by these churches and their leadership, such as drinking, bingo and lesbian leaders, it irks me enough to say that it is wrong. I hope that answers your question. Thanks.

Clay – I’ve don’t doubt your honesty. I would suggest your ability to see disobedience in your own Church is like a parent sees the wrongs someone else’s kid’s do but not their own. We are all called to look inward at our own faults and less at those of others. That’s the very meaning behind what Christ said in Luke 6:41. By the way I believe you are mistaken on two of your three irks. I suggest you check these links out.

I think you mean well, however, you need to refrain from going off without all the information. It does you or Christians in general any good.

Hi. There are of course people in our church who drink and gamble. My point is that I dont walk into a church function and see a priest with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other spinning a numbers wheel, like my former pastor did in Little Italy. If it isnt officially approved by the Catholic church then there are a lot of disobedient priests. My pastor says that drinking and gambling are wrong. God says that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. I see my pastor's attitude as being less encouraging for church members to drink and gamble. Thanks.

And I should have added that my former pastor saw it. He wasnt the one who did it of course. Thanks.

And you should have added Clay that you are a fool--but, you know what, I won't ask you if you are a fool, and you don't have to tell me if you are one. Just keep it to yourself Clay and pray fervently that one day soon, you will attain salvation from your mode of thinking. Also if homosexuality were a sin Clay, it is not a bigger a sin than all the muck you spout regularly in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Ravensfan's Anon

Hi. If the bible says that homosexuality is wrong, drunkeness is wrong, etc, I am not going to argue with it. In light of what happens after we die, it is foolish to do so.

Clay - There is a difference between drunkenness and drinking wine or beer or any other drink. The Bible does not specifically condemn drinking it condemns the excess (drunkenness). I don’t recall it condemning gambling either although again doing it excess is wrong. But we digress from the point of the blog.

Anonymous – You really are starting to sound as rude and intolerant as Robert. If people discussing their faith or beliefs bothers you why do you come here?

I read all of your posts, and I would just like to humbly comment with my 'opinion.'

I doubt that God utilizes any sort of scale in order to determine the severity of the sin, and decides that one sin is worse than another. Sin is sin, and I doubt that God would be pleased for us to judge one another. Obama knows his own heart, as we do ours, and the only beneficial or constructive thing that we can really do is to simply pray for Obama, and one another. Sometimes, it's beneficial to 'debate' issues, but, it is always better to do so with as little emotion as possible. This will keep us from hurting our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not know for sure those that are called according to His purposes.

My 2-cents, for what its worth.

Ravensfan, Robert is right under your skin--you need to excise him. You belabor the point endlessly with everyone Ravensfan and you make not a dent. Did Matthew Hay Brown perhaps tell you that his blogs are only for those who want to discuss their faith? Unlike you, an intelligent stuffed shirt, he is a man who blogs about those who believe and those who don't--he seems interested in spirituality of all sorts and in lack thereof. Hence I am on these blogs. Let me know when he calls on you to remove the shrill and the abrasive from the pages of these blogs. Until then I'll stay Ravensfan and as I told you before when I get too offensive, I will be censored with or without your approval. You have been trying most politely to impress on Clay that his condemnation of those who don't believe in Jesus or the homosexuals holds no water in the Biblical realm of things. So far, what did you achieve? Diddly squat! I feel no constraint to be overly polite to a man who under the guise of politeness systematically excoriates those, he claims, have not followed the edicts of the Bible. Keep writing Ravensfan. You are mine and Robert's alter ego, our paternal stick, if you will. Ouch! Keep at it, and you will, despite your erudition, become the most boring person on these blogs. Then Robert or I will have to divest you of your paternal stick and bring you back from the abyss of your dark politeness to the exhilarating punches of rude confrontation. Candace, unlike Clay, you sound sincere! Bravo to you.
Yours truly-- the one and only Ravensfan's zero intellect Anon

Anon – If it makes you feel better to think that Robert or you for that matter is somehow under my skin whatever. It’s of no consequence to me. I’m well aware of the point of the blogs. I assumed you got my point, but since it eluded you let me clarify. I had assumed that while you and Robert shared the many of the same views you were above the petty insults and name calling that permeates his posts. I was surprised to see you stooping down to the same level. I was merely curious why someone with such an obvious distain for faith spent so much time attacking those who do. By no means did I mean to imply that should not be allowed here or that my approval is required. The only thing that appears to require approval is respect and that comes from Robert if you accept his dogma as fact as you apparently do. Am I supposed to be disappointed or upset because I haven’t changed Clay’s views on the Bible? Sorry but I don’t worry about things like that I’ll let you be the score keeper if it amuses you. As for what bores you or anyone else I can’t do anything about that nor will I lose any sleep over it either.

and how does anyone know what happens after we die? has anyone personally died and gotten back? and no, the white light in the doorway is not a good enough answer. all is theory and speculation, isn't it? sexuality has noting to do with spirituality/faith. tolerance and kindness, yes.

That isnt true and dont believe it. If God says homosexuality is wrong and destroyed Sodom and Gomorah because of it, dont kid yourself into thinking that sexuality has nothing to do with spirituality. Dont believe the lie that Tom Hanks said when he called his late gay buddies "little angels of light" in "Philadelphia." They are little angels in hell if they didnt come to know Him. Why? Because God's word says so. And they are no different than little straight angels in hell.

Evidently, Clay's god is an all powerful, all knowing, universe spanning entity that has a deep and personal interest in your sex life. Clay, I say this with all the respect you deserve, you are without a doubt, the back end of a donkey heading south.

Robert – Right on cue. Thanks for stopping by to prove my point about you.

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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