By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 6, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The increasingly notorious lack of church involvement or public religious observance by the United State's First Family has led one Christian organization to question the level of dedication President Obama truly feels to the religious identity that once lent such appeal to his campaign image.
After attending church regularly during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama has not attended church on a regular basis since being elected President and has yet to find a church home. Obama, while vacationing in Hawaii over Christmastime, failed to attend any religious services with his family; neither did he attend during Christmas in 2008 as president-elect.
Yet as a candidate, Obama made his Christian faith and involvement in a local church community a central component of his campaign - an image widely believed to have attracted key votes that would otherwise have opposed his liberal policies. Several Christian pastors, such as Houston megachurch pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, helped bolster the campaign talking point that Obama's social policies hewed closer to Christian doctrine than his critics allowed.
Douglas Kmiec, the Pepperdine University law professor who drew immense criticism from Catholic circles for actively campaigning on Obama's behalf, had argued that his trust in the pro-abortion candidate stemmed from his apparent commitment to Christianity.
"When, in a meeting of faith leaders in Chicago, Obama told me that his community work years before, helping the displaced and the unemployed, left him empty until he knelt before the Cross, I believed him," wrote Kmiec in a January 2009 Commonweal op-ed defending against his critics. "No politics or philosophy or relationship is launched well when faith is missing; and I did not (and do not) doubt the genuineness of Obama’s Christian faith commitment."
Since his election, Christian watchdogs have grown increasingly agitated by the apparent lack of, and even disregard for, Christian sensitivities in the White House. Some examples include:
-Per White House request, Georgetown University in April covered up a white cross and a symbol for the name of Jesus that would have appeared over Obama's head at a speech.
- The President declined publicly to celebrate the National Day of Prayer at the White House - yet hosted a large bash for Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in June, and recognized the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the White House.
- While matter-of-factly noting that George Washington recognized Thanksgiving as celebrating "the many and signal favors of Almighty God," Obama's Thanksgiving proclamation was the first in U.S. history to exhort celebration of the holiday without actually acknowledging the existence of God or Divine Providence.
- For the first time in 43 years, the Obama Administration banned a military flyover at a "God and Country Rally" in Nampa, Idaho.
- On a White House Christmas tree, the President asked that no religious ornaments be displayed - yet, ironically, reportedly allowed an ornament displaying the image of Chinese dictator and mass murderer Mao Tse Tung.
"The issue is not whether a President has to attend church on a regular basis to be an effective President. They do not," commented Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Washington, D.C. based Christian Defense Coalition. "The issue is one of integrity and honesty.
"To portray yourself as person of deep Christian faith and very involved in the life of the local church during the campaign and then abandon that position after you are elected reduces faith to a commodity and religion to a political tool."
Mahoney noted that the White House admits that President Obama and his family have not settled in one church community in Washington, D.C. because they want to avoid becoming a "disruptive factor for the local church."
"This is a completely disingenuous and misleading argument," said Mahoney. "The overwhelming majority of churches in the Washington would love to have the President and his family attend their church and would welcome them with open arms.
"Simply stated; Mr. President if your Christian faith and involvement with a local church means as much to you as you say it does please find a vibrant local community for you and your family to worship Christ."