The Obamas’ Search For a Spiritual Home


I remember watching George Bush walk out of St. John’s Church on January 20, 2001 on the slightly rainy inauguration day that year, and I remember at 16 wondering what it would be like to see a black man as a president having to attend a white church service.  I imagined that he’d be going to some Baptist, or even dare say some Pentecostal church.

Wow, how quickly that time comes.

So, as I made the mistake of downing a McDonalds Iced Coffee shortly after North Carolina got all up in the Michigan State last night, I happened to see this story of the Obama’s Church Search on Anderson 360 on repeat–so at 6 in the morning after not being able to still sleep, I felt compelled to write and subsequently drop this post about it.

Here’s the story as it stands now:

hite House aides are said to be vetting churches in Washington to find a spiritual home for U.S. President Barack Obama and his family. 

The Boston Globe reported Sunday that the president’s staff is working to balance the Obama family’s security needs and personal beliefs. Then there is the competition among local Christian ministers to woo the Obamas into their flock, the newspaper noted.

Joshua DuBois, director of the White House office of faith-based initiatives, is coordinating Obama’s search for a church. He said his office has been inundated with phone calls and invitations from various congregations.

DuBois said one of the challenges is finding a church that can handle the logistics and publicity that come with a presidential visit.

“We want to make sure we’re respectful of that community,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying,

The Globe noted that Obama’s search for a new church comes about 10 months after his break from Trinity United Methodist Church in Chicago.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the church’s leader, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, came under fire for his sometimes incendiary preaching of black liberation theology.

Now it’s already understood that Obama has had an interesting relationship with churches and spirituality.  Of course the sermons from Jeremiah Wright come to the forefront, but this is definitely an interesting turn of events as far as I’m concerned.  For anyone who’s been a long time reader of this blog knows where I stand on the whole Jeremiah Wright issue, but maybe not so much as far as how I truly feel about church.

Most have picked up that I’m quite disillusioned about how church is done nowadays, particularly in the black church setting.  Be that as it may, I’m simply not a fan of safe preaching.  So, for the White House, through 26 year-old Joshua DuBois as head of the faith-based initiative program, to actually commence a vetting process should be mildly insulting to clergy world wide.  In a day and age where people come to church expecting a word from God, it seems that these pastors that are in the running to be Obama’s DC pastor would have to be very careful about what they say lest they upset their most important member.

As my friend has said, “It’s time out for recreational preaching.”  It’s one thing to go to a church where the members are poorer and have less education and run around hollering and screaming and giving some jacked up theology, but it’s another thing preaching at these black middle class churches full of the “have-some-want-some-mores” who are professionals in their fields and are nothing more than, as Vernon Johns said “educated fools.”

It is of no surprise that Obama would of course pick a black church as a “front runner” seeing as how he came out of Trinity, but still, as this article noted and as the CNN piece noted, the Rev. Derrick Harkins, pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in DC probably preaches sermons that are “safe.”

I am reminded of this passage in the book of Acts in the 17th chapter where Paul and Silas are passing through Thessalonica and naturally there are some haters out there who just don’t like what they’re saying.  This group of haters run to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas.  The mob pulls Jason out (right, what kind of mob was this) and ask Jason to turn over Paul and Silas because these men were “turning the world upside down.”

Simply stated, “safe” preaching isn’t going to turn the world upside down.

Jeremiah Wright was right in his assertion that he was a pastor and Obama is a politician:  Even if Obama deep down knows what is socially and spiritually right, he’s a politician and he’s going to pick a politically safe church.

He’s a grown man, he can do what he wants.

What type of church do you think Obama should be a part of?  Will he still have the specter of Wright hovering over him or will this finally put that whole issue to bed?  How do you feel about politics in the pulpit given this post you just read?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

6 thoughts on “The Obamas’ Search For a Spiritual Home

  1. Okay, if they have to go through a vetting process just to find a worshipping congregation then perhaps he doesn’t need to go to a worship service, maybe he should bring the worship service to him. After all the church is not the building, its the people.

    So he should start the first White-House Church! He could put a tent in the rose garden and order a hammond b3, a sound system, and about a hundred folding chairs. Order Aretha Franklin every Sunday in exchange for meal (which I know she will take) to play and sing and find a cross racial praise team to back her up and boi, he ready to go!

    Then all he needs is a “god bless America” preacher, with no hints of prophetic fervor just spiritual encouragement and what do you have….presto–Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church comes to the White House. What could be safer than that?!?!

  2. @Critical Cleric


    I was debating about adding the fact that a 26 year-old was heading up the vetting process, and what does that say about the state of religion in this country? I mean I wonder what kind of judgment does Joshua DuBois have on this particular matter.

  3. I don’t think that we can judge the man’s qualification to vet based on his age. Let’s be honest though…we all vet the churches that we are going to attend (or at least we should). The real question here shouldn’t be about vetting but “safe preaching.” You are right in your assumption on preaching to the “well do’s”. Anyone can tell you that God is going to bless you with a BMW. But is the word of God being followed. Are we becoming better people spiritually, mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically. Jesus wasn’t safe nor should our preachers be….BUT, President Obama is first and foremost a politician. Whatever decision he makes from here until he leaves office please remember that.

  4. @CO

    Meh, I think experience does play a role into it, and at 26, one has had limited experience. Moreover, homeboy was educated at what’s considered conservative schools. Schools that are prolly quite clear that Jeremiah Wright was WRONG, lol.

  5. A church is a building. His religion should be do right; treat others as you want to be treated or have your family treated; be kind always and try not to lie. This way he represents his religion and can save his money from the ‘tithes’…

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