Obamas still don't have regular church to attend

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Contrary to published reports, President Obama and the First Family have not decided to make Evergreen Chapel at Camp David their primary place of worship in the Washington area.

"The President and First Family continue to look for a church home. They have enjoyed worshipping at Camp David and several other congregations over the months, and will choose a church at the time that is best for their family,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki said in a statement.

Time.com had posted a lengthy story saying that, in an unexpected move, President Obama had told aides he had decided to make the non-denominational chapel at Camp David the family’s primary church home. Evergreen Chapel was dedicated during the presidency of George H.W. Bush and serves the military personnel and staff stationed at the highly secure Camp David.

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Little Sunday morning privacy

In addition to services at Camp David, the President and Mrs. Obama have attended a local Baptist church and celebrated Easter at St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House. Word that the Obamas would attend the Baptist church became public, drawing a large crowd and making it difficult for regular church attendees to find seats. And tourists inside the church reportedly snapped pictures of the President while he attended St. John’s.

Presidents at least since McKinley have found it difficult to worship without being stared at or photographed. Since September 11, 2001, heightened security has made church-going even more difficult for the First Family.

The complex two block trip to church

This reporter has not accompanied Mr. Obama to church. But I did attend services with President Bush as part of a White House press pool that accompanied the chief executive when he left the executive mansion and traveled to St John’s Episcopal, just across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Early Sunday morning we got into a 14-vehicle motorcade – complete with duplicate armored SUVs, an ambulance, and a counter-assault SWAT unit dressed in black and armed with high powered rifles -- for the two block ride to church. Parents placed their children in pews near to Mr. Bush to snag a presidential handshake during the “greet your fellow worshiper” portion of the Episcopal service.

For the Obama family, security and privacy are not the only concerns in finding a new church home. The issue is especially sensitive for Mr. Obama since he resigned from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in the wake of intemperate comments made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

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