President Barack Obama, beset by substantial public doubts about his religion and right-wing suspicions that he is Muslim, took a few steps on Sunday to dispel those image problems: He and his family crossed Lafayette Park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, just the third time he has worshipped in public since he became president last year.
The president, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters joined about 40 other worshippers, according to pool reports, and heard a sermon on a passage from the Gospel of Luke that ends, “You cannot serve God and wealth.” They also took Communion as a family.
Afterward, the Obamas strolled back to the White House across Lafayette Square, which was closed to the public.
Since arriving in Washington as president, Obama — who was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago — has largely chosen not to attend public church services because of the possible disruptions his presence, and the increased security, would cause a congregation. Obama has said he relies on his Christian faith to perform his duties as chief executive, and White House officials said the president relies on a close circle of spiritual advisers.
Last month, a poll indicated a majority of the public had doubts about Obama’s religious beliefs, even though his Christian faith was a key part of his pitch as a presidential candidate. Although he said he regularly reads the Bible and prays, the president has maintained he doesn’t want to ostentatiously fake a devotion to organized religion that he’s never had before, and he is more often seen going to the golf course or the gym on Sunday mornings.
Read More: By Ben Smith, Politico