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When Barack Obama took over the office of United States president, he switched up a number of traditions from his predecessors. Or at least he switched up a couple of programs instituted by his predecessor, Former President George W. Bush. The world is constantly watching to see what Obama will say about Islam, Christianity, God, prayer, religious leaders, etc. And we’re watching to see how often he attends a religious service – which service is it? where is it? is it enough? What is our fascination with Obama and religion? First let’s check out a brief timeline of Obama’s intersection with religion-related activities.

November 2008: Obama enrolls his children in a Quaker school in DC.

January 2009: Obama gives his first interview (speaking to Muslims) on Arabic TV.

February 2009: Obama introduces the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

May 2009: Obama chooses not to publically pray at the National Day of Prayer event and instead prays in private.

July 2009: Obama meets with the pope to talk about ways they can cooperate.

Fall 2009: The Bush administration had initiated a faith-based initiative to get involved in religious charities without telling religious charities who they can hire.  Controversy surrounds Obama’s decision to maintain Bush’s faith-based initiative related to charities.

March 2010: Obama is urged to appoint a religious freedom ambassador (a position required by law).

Later that month, Obama tells NBC:

“We’ve decided for now not to join a single church. The reason is because Michelle and I have realized we are very disruptive to services,” Obama replied. “We occasionally go across the street to St. John’s, which is a church that a lot of presidents traditionally have gone to. We love the chapel up in Camp David. It’s probably our favorite place to worship because it’s just family up at Camp David. There’s a wonderful chaplain up there who does just a great job. So usually when we go to Camp David we go to church on Sundays there.”

Controversy surrounds this decision (check out the comments on this Fox Nation page).

April 2010:

At the beginning of the month, Obama spoke to multiple faiths with an interfaith holiday greeting (around Passover and Easter).

People are now counting the number of times Obama has attended church since he took office (the answer is four).

It seems that all of this controversy backed Obama into a corner where he likely felt forced to talk about beliefs he considered private. At a White House Easter breakfast on April 6, Obama told Christian leaders that he has been redeemed by Jesus Christ and is thankful for his sacrifice.

When a judge rules that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, Obama’s administration says it will appeal the ruling.

Does it matter whether he is religious/supports religions?

One’s religious beliefs could certainly have an effect on one’s ability to do his job, one’s decisions within that job, and so forth. And while we can all attempt to separate our beliefs from our life’s work, our worldview colors our actions. At this point, it seems Obama would do well to be open about his faith and religious views, setting an example of honesty and understanding for the country. But would it matter at this point? Have people already decided what religion Obama professes without hearing him out? If he came out and said “I’m Christian” would that satisfy those who are angry? Would it in turn anger members of other religious groups? Where do you weigh in?

Created by Religion Transcends, 2010

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