(Photo: AP Photo / Alex Brandon)
President Obama wrapped up his holiday vacation in Hawaii Sunday after 11 days of sports, fun, and, not surprisingly, work from the capital.
Noticeably missing from the president’s schedule, however, was a trip to a church – even on Christmas, according to White House sources.
Though Obama spent nearly all of his childhood in Hawaii – away only for about four years, when he lived in Indonesia – he didn’t have a childhood church. His mother wasn't a churchgoer, and his maternal grandparents, who cared for him upon his return to Hawaii in 1971, took him to church infrequently.
Obama’s religious views didn’t really develop until he was an adult in his late twenties, when he was baptized at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Obama was an active member of Trinity for two decades until controversy arose over sermons that his long-time pastor had preached.
Since he withdrew his membership from Trinity in 2008, Obama has been without a worship community, though he “fairly regularly” attends services at the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David, according to press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Weekly Christian worship services at the Evergreen Chapel, a non-membership based nondenominational facility, typically draws some 50 to 70 people – mostly military personnel and staff posted at Camp David and their families.
According to Obama, he and his team last year were “trying to figure out how to move this big apparatus called the presidency without being hugely disruptive to congregations.”
“How do we time that, how do we think about that? That's something we're still sorting out,” he told ABC News' Terry Moran in a July 2009 interview for “Nightline.”
Though no word has yet come out over why Obama didn’t attend a Christmas service during his time in Hawaii, the response would likely be similar to the ones he’s given in past interviews when asked whether or not he has found a home church.
It was also not immediately known where – and if – the Obamas had gone to church on past Christmases, which they’ve celebrated in Hawaii for nearly every year since the First Children were born, according to Time magazine.
The only church Obama is known to have a tie with in Hawaii is the First Unitarian Church, where he occasionally attended Sunday school classes as a child.
Aside from being Unitarian, the church is also controversial for having offered sanctuary to servicemen who refused to go to Vietnam in 1969.
Requests to the White House for comments on the Obamas’ past Christmases were not immediately responded to.